Huskies have a glowing reputation of being physically similar to wolves. But although Huskies are often mistaken for wolves, they’re not more related to these wild dogs than any different dog breed. If that’s the case, you’re probably asking right now, “so why do Huskies look like wolves?”
Don’t worry! In this article, we’re going to discuss in detail why Huskies look like wolves.
Why Do Huskies Look Like Wolves
If both animals are so different, then why do they look so similar? Some people practically can’t tell the two apart.
There are three main answers: ancestry, environment, and breeding.
Like all domesticated dogs, Huskies are direct descendants of wolves from tens of thousands of years ago.
Scientists have been able to track a distinct ancestry from a wolf species called the Siberian wolf, a close cousin of the famed gray wolf.
Generally, all dogs have wolf traits in their DNA. But through the years, consistent breeding with other domesticated dogs has produced more and more domesticated characteristics and features.
Also, since modern dogs are typically bred to be human companions and have no more need to find prey in the wild, the instincts, ferocity, and other natural traits in wild wolves have close to disappeared.
However, Husky breeds—particularly Siberian Huskies—still have many of these wolf traits in their DNA, mainly because they’re needed in the arctic regions where sled dogs originally reside. This resulted in a strikingly similar appearance, although they are still very genetically distinct.
In relation to ancestry, wolves and Huskies also originate and exist in a remarkably similar environment: the Siberian Arctic. Thus, they share many characteristics that helped both breeds survive in the harsh cold.
For example, both wolves and Huskies need a double coat of fur: a smooth topcoat for protection and a soft undercoat to keep them warm despite the extreme temperatures.
The modern Husky descended from an ancient sled dog breed found in the Chukotka Peninsula in Siberia.
At the time, Chukotka people bred sled dogs to help them survive in their harsh environment. Also known as Chukotka sled dogs, these Husky ancestors were trained to have higher endurance, a friendlier disposition, and a smaller size so that they would consume less food.
The Chukchi and Eskimo people regularly worked with Chukotka sled dogs to do their trading. Much like modern Huskies, their boundless energy and strength were especially helpful in the trade.
There are speculations, however, that these ancient people occasionally cross-bred wolves and Huskies to maintain a fresh genetic pool and to improve their dog’s strength and endurance. This could further explain the similarity between these two different species.
Interestingly, some people today still cross-breed Huskies and wolves. The hybrid offsprings are called wolf-dogs and they look like a rougher, bigger Husky.
Wolves vs. Husky: How to Tell Them Apart
There are three critical differences between wild wolves and the furbaby Husky in your living room.
Wolves and Huskies share the same basic shape and fur covering because they share ancestry and come from the same cold region of the globe. However, the differences typically end there.
For one, wolves are much bigger than Huskies. Wolves measure at 26-32 inches from shoulder to paw, while Huskies only measure around 22 inches. In terms of weight, wolves can go as heavy as 200 lbs, while Huskies generally top at 65 lbs.
Wolves also have a bigger head size, and on the whole, have much longer canines and paws—suitable for hunting on different kinds of terrain.
Even their eye colors are different. Wolves have gorgeous eyes, but they’re limited to gold, brown, and yellow hues. Huskies, on the other hand, have a much wider range. Their eyes can be blue, black, brown, and even heterochromatic.
Lastly, while Wolves typically only sport shades of gray and white fur, Huskies can have black, brown, and white colors.
Posture and movement
Wolves, being predators, are very reserved when it comes to body language. They are slower, less direct, and more cautious. They never wag their tails or lift them and mainly jog or trot efficiently. Naturally, they also tend to be wary around humans.
On the other hand, Huskies are very playful and open. Their tails express a wide variety of emotions, and they usually wag them and hold them high. If you show them delicious treats like fish or sweetcorn, they’ll have no problems approaching you and even feeding on your hand.
Perhaps where the two animals differ the most, though, is in their behavior.
Huskies were bred to be human companions. While they are rather boisterous, more independent, and have a pack mentality, they still get along with humans quite well. They can sometimes be aggressive towards smaller dogs, but well-trained Huskies are typically friendly with any breed. Their intelligence also allows them to be easily trained to do tricks.
On the other hand, wolves are very independent and predatory. When wolf pups reach a certain age, they often shake off training and become independent, making them difficult to train for human companionship. This is the same problem that plagues wolf-dogs, who, as mentioned above, are the hybrid offsprings of wolves and dogs.
Final thoughts on why Huskies look like wolves
Although they look pretty similar, huskies are actually very different from wolves. In this article, we discussed why they look the same and how to tell the two animals apart.
Here’s a summary of what we learned:
- Huskies share a genetic ancestry with wolves
- They also share the same environment of origin: the frigid Arctic lands
- Husky ancestors may have been cross-bred with wolves to enhance physical characteristics
- Huskies are much smaller and have different colors from wolves
- Wolves have the typical predator behavior, while Huskies are playful and open
- Huskies are very friendly to humans and can be easily trained, while wolves are independent and hostile
Interested in learning more about different Husky breeds? Don’t forget to check out our blog here at Husky Habits!