All dogs have descended from wolves or other wild canids and many still maintain their primitive looks and temperaments today.

 Although it’s been centuries since dogs became domesticated, recent DNA studies have brought to light which of the recognized breeds are the most closely related to wolves and their ancestors.

The study included 414 dogs from 85 different breeds and the results might surprise you! You can find more about the study at National Geographic.

The results revealed that an unexpected and geographically diverse cluster of breeds—including the Siberian husky, the Afghan hound, Africa's basenji, China's chow chow, Japan's akita, and Egypt's saluki—are most closely related to dog's ancient wolflike ancestors.

"Dogs from these breeds may be the best living representatives of the ancestral dog gene pool," the researchers wrote.

1- Samoyed: A northern spitz-type from Russia, the Samoyed looks more believable when it comes to wild ancestors. This breed is social but primitive, still used for sledding and reindeer herding in its native land.

2 – Shih Tzu: Although this breed looks nothing similar to wolves and other wild canids, the Shih Tzu is genetically one of the domestic breeds most closely related to wolves. It is thought that this companion breed originated in China around 800 BC.

3- Pekingese: Like the Shih Tzu, this lapdog hails from China and despite its appearance and temperament, is one of the least diverged from its ancestors. This breed has been owned and adored by members of the Chinese Imperial Palace for centuries.

 4 – Lhasa Apso: The Lhasa Apso is known for being a watchdog among Buddhist monasteries in its native Tibet. Researchers believe this breed originated roughly 4,000 years ago and its genetic makeup proves this to be true. Regardless of their appearance, the breed is one of the most closely related to wolves.

 5 – Tibetan Terrier As its name suggests, this breed originates from Tibet, but it is not a true terrier. Tibetan Terriers have been kept as purebred dogs in their native home for over 2,000 years.

6 – Saluki The Saluki is a sighthound native to the Middle East and known for traveling the Silk Road with caravans and nomadic tribes. Salukis are thought to be one of the oldest dog breeds in existence, with ancient rock art showing Saluki-like dogs as far back as 10,000 BC. Genetically, the breed is still very closely related to its wild ancestors.

7 – Afghan Hound Like the Saluki, the Afghan Hound is a sighthound that is also considered to be one of the oldest domestic dog breeds in existence. Genetic testing from this study proved they have little divergence from wolves.

 8 – Siberian Husky This northern breed hails from Siberia where it has been and is still used for sledding. Not only does the breed resemble its wild ancestors, it has changed relatively little genetically over time. Siberian Huskies allowed nomadic tribes to survive in the cold, harsh environment of the Russian north.

 9 – Shar-Pei Like most other Chinese breeds, the Shar-Pei is genetically very ancient. Despite its appearance, its genes are very similar to those of wolves. Although the exact history of the breed is uncertain, there are pottery images depicting Shar-Pei-like dogs as far back as 206 BC.

 10 – Basenji The Basenji is a small- to medium-sized hunting dog from Africa. Like other wild dogs and wolves, the Basenji is known for its yodeling rather than barking. Genetically, the breed is considered ancient and is closely related to its wild ancestors.

 11 – Shiba Inu The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the Japanese breeds and is also a very ancient dog. It was originally used to hunt rabbits and birds, but is most commonly seen as a family companion today. Its DNA makeup suggests it is one of the oldest living breeds.

12 – Akita Often considered a larger version of the Shiba Inu, the Akita is a guardian dog from Japan. Like the Shiba, it is genetically very ancient and similar to its wild ancestors. Although the Japanese and American Akitas have become two very different types, and are ever considered separate breeds in some countries, they are still relatively similar.

13 – Alaskan Malamute This large northern breed was developed for sledding and cart pulling and it is still used for this function today. With its wolf-like appearance, it doesn’t surprise many to learn that this Alaskan native is very closely related to its wild ancestors.

14 – Chow Chow Of all Chinese breeds, the Chow Chow looks most closely like its wild ancestors. Although still very different, the breed is genetically ancient and considered to be one of the oldest breeds still in existence. They have primitive temperaments and were used as guard dogs as far back as 150 BC.


Responses to "14 Dog Breeds Closely Related To Wolves"

  1. Owned a wolf hybrid and now own a chow....i can say the chow is more loyal and more protective. Love them both, spitz breeds are the best

  2. Owned a wolf hybrid and now own a chow....i can say the chow is more loyal and more protective. Love them both, spitz breeds are the best

  3. Anonymous says:

    Haha those little ones XD
    Nice to know!

  4. Anonymous says:

    German Shepherds are a 100-year old breed and they used wolf-dogs in the breeding process. They (the working line, as in the "true" breed line) also look very much like wolves. Can't see why you'd leave them out!

  5. Anonymous says:

    the malamute has the long rangy body of the wolf and can prowl like one. the Japanese akita can drop its head like the wolf when it is sizing up its prey. just normal traits for these breeds. The german shepherd was used to protect sheep from wolves. this breed doesn't like akitas and will attack them.

  6. I've had many dogs in my lifetime, and my malamute mix and my shepherd/husky mix reminded me very much of some of the various wolf breeds. If the state of Illinois would allow it, I'd have a wolf as a pet in an instant. They are, in my opinion, the most beautiful of God's animals....

  7. Inkvi says:

    german wolf spitz is a direct ancestor of baltic wolf.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Have had two Keeshonds. They, too, have very wolflike traits.

  9. Beo says:

    If you look at the phylogenetic tree, the Kuvasz is closer than any of them.

  10. Great info on our "four legged" friends.

  11. National Geographic stated that the Shiba holds the closest DNA to the wolf. I'm sure that can be verified. I'm only the messenger

  12. National Geographic states that the Shiba Inu has the closest DNA to wolves. I wonder why this list has them as #10?

  13. Anonymous says:

    Nothing about the Tibetan Mastiff, very ancient breed and one of the few to have a single estrus a year

  14. I love wolves. I have two dogs. Dogs are the second cousins of wolves.

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