Husky vs Wolf: Why Do Huskies Look Like Gray Wolves?

Last Updated on March 18, 2023

Huskies and Wolves share a similar body and face shape and similar coloring. Many people will say that the Husky has a wolf-like appearance.

A Siberian Husky and a Gray Wolf
The Siberian Husky and the (Gray) Wolf

Despite being quite similar in looks, the Husky and the Wolf are very different.

One is a domesticated animal used for human companionship and work, while the other is a wild canine.

But is the domesticated husky related to the wild wolf? Or how exactly did the Husky we know and love come to be?

Keep reading to discover more about Huskies and their ancestry, how they differ from wolves, unpack some frequently asked questions concerning huskies and wolves, and look at how best to care for the beautiful Husky dog breed.

Breed Comparison: A Quick Overview

While the Wolf and the Husky may share ancestors, they are different species.

For this article, we will be comparing the Siberian Husky, the only official type of Husky, with the Gray Wolf, the most common of the Wolf species.

Here’s a quick comparison of these two animals:

  Husky Wolf
Height 20 to 23.5 inches
(50.8 to 59.6 cm)
26 to 33 inches
(66 to 83.8 cm)
Weight 35 to 60 lbs
(15.8 to 27.2 kg)
85 to 190 lbs
(38.5 to 86.1 kg)
Average Lifespan 12 to 15 years 6 to 8 years in the wild
20 years in captivity
Habitat and Distribution Worldwide
Originally from Siberia
North America, North Africa, Eurasia
Coat Type Double coat
Short hair
Course double coat
Long hair
Color Red, black, gray, sable, white, agouti Gray
Eyes Almond-shaped brown, blue, or black eyes Round yellow, brown, or amber eyes
Teeth Short Long
Temperament Domesticated,
easily trainable,
dependent on the master,
loves to play
Wild, independent,
strong hunting skills

History of the Husky and Wolf

A Siberian Husky and a wolf standing outdoors
The closely related Siberian Husky and (Timber) Wolf

Dogs were first domesticated by humans some 20,000 to 40,000 years ago.

There are examples of humans being buried with their canine companions as far back as 15,000 years ago. 

Huskies are members of the Spitz family of dogs and hail from the Arctic tundra in Northeast Asia, where the Chukchi people of Siberia used these dogs.

They were initially developed to help pull sleds and serve as companions around 4,000 years ago. Today, this domestic breed of dog is found around the world.

As far as wolves are concerned, there are three types of wolves, namely the Red Wolf, Gray Wolf, and Timber Wolf.

The Gray Wolf is the most common and is found across Europe, Asia, North America, and parts of North Africa. 

Are Huskies more Wolf?

It is believed that all dogs, regardless of their shape or size, have the Gray Wolf as an ancestor.

Research does suggest that Huskies are more closely related to Wolves than most other breeds of domestic dogs. 

Domesticated dogs share 99 percent of their genes, with the 1 percent difference giving rise to the vast differences in all the different dog breeds we see today.

When comparing these genes, it is evident that certain domesticated breeds, such as the Siberian Husky and the Chinese Shar-Pei, and African Basenji, started evolving from wolves much earlier than other breeds.

The genetics of these dogs thus changed less than some of their other canine cousins, making them more similar to the Wolf.

Which Husky is the most closely related to the Wolf?

The only officially recognized form of Husky is the Siberian Husky.

There are some unofficial Husky breeds, such as the Alaskan Husky, which was developed to pull sleds in Alaska and is a cross between English Pointers, German Shepherds, and Salukis.

This dog doesn’t have the same wolf-like appearance as the Siberian Husky.

There is also the Labrador Husky, which has been bred by the Inuit people of Canada and is related to the Canadian Eskimo Dog.

The Mackenzie River Husky is also from Canada and is a mix between Saint Bernards and Newfoundlands.

Finally, you will find the Sakhalin Husky, an extinct breed of Husky native to Japan.

Read more: 12 Different Types of Huskies

How Can You Tell the Difference Between a Wolf and a Husky?

A Siberian Husky and a Wolf in the snow
The similarly-looking Siberian Husky and (Timber) Wolf

One of the telltale differences between a Wolf and a Husky is size.

All Wolf subspecies are significantly bigger than the Husky, with European Wolves typically weighing more than those found in North America. 

Wolves typically stand between 26 to 33 inches (66 to 83.8 cm) tall, while Huskies are between 20 to 23.5 inches (50.8 to 59.6 cm).

Females are one to two centimeters shorter than their male counterparts and weigh around 10 pounds lighter. 

Color is another way to tell these two creatures apart.

Huskies come in a range of colors, including white, gray, black, red, agouti, and sable, whereas Gray Wolves are, as their name suggests, gray, although they can have white or black markings.

Wolves also typically have thicker tufts of hair on their chests and neck.

Another difference is in the eyes. Wolves are known for their characteristic yellow or amber eyes, whereas the eyes of the Husky usually are brown, blue, or black.

It also is not uncommon for Huskies to have heterochromia in which the two eyes are not the same color.

Other minor differences include the fact that the Husky’s nose can be black or pink while the Wolf’s is black, the head of the Wolf is larger than the Husky with a narrower muzzle, and Husky’s have a forehead stripe which you won’t find on Wolves. 

Wolves also have longer, wider bodies with long legs and offset, smaller, triangular ears when compared with the Husky’s long, upright ears.

Are Wolves Friendly with Humans and Other Pets?

A smiling Siberian Husky and a Wolf
The domesticated Siberian Husky and the wild (Gray) Wolf

The Wolf and the Husky have profoundly different personalities.

Huskies have been domesticated to cohabitate peacefully with humans and other animals, whereas this has not happened for the wild Wolf.

Wolves will shy away from human encroachment and may lash out at people and other animals if they perceive them as a threat or easy prey.

Which breed is the perfect family dog?

Huskies are domesticated canines bred for companionship and obviously will make a better family pet than the Wolf.

These dogs thrive on human company and will suffer separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.

On the other hand, Wolves need freedom and independence and would not take kindly to being kept as a pet.

Are wolves more dangerous than Huskies?

Wolves are wild animals and should be treated as such.

Previous attempts to domesticate wolves have ended in disaster, with one Gysinge wolf in captivity escaping and injuring 31 people, 12 of whom succumbed to their injuries. 

While some Wolf puppies have been successfully raised in captivity, when these animals reach sexual maturity around the age of two, they will start exhibiting independence and may turn on their caregivers.

On the other hand, Huskies become attached to their caregivers for their entire lifetime and do not exhibit the same dangerous tendencies as the Wild Wolf.

Is the Husky stronger than the Wolf?

If a Husky got into a fight with a Wolf, he would likely come off second best.

While Huskies may play fight, this is just a form of fun and letting out excess energy rather than unleashing any aggression.

When wolves play, it is to learn the skills they need to hunt and kill, which can make them incredibly dangerous.

To see the true strength of the Wolf, watch this pack of Wolves taking on a Polar Bear in the Canadian Arctic: 

How strong is Wolf’s bite force?

The wild Wolf has a bite force of 406 pounds per square inch (PSI) which is significantly more than domesticated dogs and other canines.

The Siberian Husky has a bite force of 320 PSI to give you a comparison.

Wolves need this strong bite force to catch and hold down their prey in the wild.

Which Breed is Easier to Train?

A Husky and a Wolf standing outdoors
The trainable Siberian Husky and the independent (European Gray) Wolf

Huskies have been bred as working dogs and depend on a master. These dogs are open to training and are intelligent.

Although also intelligent animals, Wolves are wild and thus resist any form of training.

Wild Wolves should never be treated the same as you would a domesticated animal and trying to train one of these animals could have devastating consequences.

Which Dog Breed Has Higher Maintenance?

A Siberian Husky with a woman and a Wolf
The Siberian Husky, who needs care, and the low-maintenance, wild Wolf

The Husky and the Wolf are entirely different when it comes to maintenance.

Wolves do not rely on humans to survive and stay clear of humans if possible.

These animals hunt and kill their prey and need to be in a protected natural environment where they can do so peacefully. 

On the other hand, Huskies need a loving home that will cater to their exercise, nutritional, and emotional needs.

Which dog is more energetic?

As a wild animal, the Wolf will only expend energy when he needs to, saving his resources for survival.

On the other hand, Siberian Huskies are a high-energy breed of dog that loves to play and thrives when given a job to do. 

These dogs were designed to pull heavy loads at high speed over the ice without tiring, and as a result, they love to run, enjoy sledding, and excel at dog sports and agility challenges.

They also have an incredibly silly side and enjoy getting up to antics with their humans and other canine companions.

Which dog sheds more?

Both the Siberian Husky and the Wolf have a double coat, but they are quite different in texture. The Wolf’s coat is fluffier and coarser than the Husky’s.

Although Siberian Huskies have a shorter coat than the Wolf and can be found worldwide, they are adapted to living in colder climates and thus don’t do well in overly warm temperatures. 

While wolves are often found in cold climates, certain species have adapted to hotter climates.

In these parts, these wolves have shorter, coarser coats when compared to their longer-haired cousins found in icy locations.

Nutritional needs

Huskies and Wolves both have sharp canine teeth for ripping meat.

However, the teeth of a wild Wolf will grow considerably longer and sharper than those of a domesticated Siberian Husky.

The teeth of the wolf will also be wider as they need strong teeth to catch and rip apart their prey and break bones. 

Unfortunately, as humans encroach on the territory of wild Wolves, these animals are beginning to see humans as food sources which can lead to dangerous behavior.

Also read: Best Dog Food for Siberian Husky

Average Lifespan

Head shots of the Siberian Husky and the Wolf
The Siberian Husky and the Wolf differ in longevity

Huskies tend to outlive Wolves, primarily because they have been domesticated and don’t need to fend for themselves in the wild.

The average lifespan of a domesticated Husky is 10 to 12 years compared to the 6 to 8 years of a wild Wolf. 

However, wolves in captivity who aren’t faced with the threats of climate, finding food, disease, and fighting with other predators and other wolves, can live up to 20 years.

Puppy Cost and Price

A Siberian Husky puppy and a Wolf cub walking outdoors
The equally adorable Siberian Husky pup and Wolf cub

Stay far away from anybody advertising Wolf puppies for sale. These animals are wild and are prohibited from private possession.

On the other hand, Husky puppies typically fetch between $700 and $1250, with the average price being $1080.

Gray and white and black Huskies are the most popular varieties.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A Siberian Husky and a Wolf lying down outdoors
The popular Siberian Husky and the Wolf

Which is more popular?

Since the American Kennel Club first recognized the Husky breed in 1930, their popularity has only increased.

Today, Siberian Huskies are ranked as the 14th most popular breed of dog in the United States by the American Kennel Club. 

Do these two breeds get along?

No, while Huskies are bred to work in a pack and thus typically get along with other dogs if trained and socialized correctly, wild Wolves should not be introduced to domesticated dogs.

Huskies have a strong prey drive and likely won’t back down from a fight with a Wolf, which will lead to a Wolf seeing them as a threat and attacking.

Which is Better, the Husky or the Wolf?

As you can see, there are some significant differences between the Husky and the Wolf.

While these two animals might have a similar coat color and texture and share some of their looks, they both don’t make good pets.

The Wolf is a wild animal that should not be domesticated, whereas the Husky is a beautiful breed that loves to play, work, and does well as a family companion.

If you are looking for a pet for your home, the Siberian Husky is the way to go, as owning a Wolf is illegal and highly unethical.

Do you have a Husky at home? We would love to hear all about your family member and the traits you love best about him in the comments below.

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