Differences Between Wolves and Dogs

Many people ask us the question: what is the difference between a wolf and a dog? Since all dogs are descended from wolves the two species share some similar characteristics, such as their sense of smell and even behavioral things like putting their ears back to show submission.  That being said, their similarities are few. Dogs have spent hundreds of years living amongst humans and thus have evolved to be very different from their wild ancestors. 

Dogs are domesticated and in many cases this means the retention of juvenile traits.  Examples of this are the fact that the majority of dog breeds have floppy ears and short snouts; these are characteristics that are only found in wolf puppies.  Exceptions to this rule are dog breeds such as Huskies and Shepherd type dogs. These breeds are the closest you can get to owning a wolf while still having a dog. We encourage anyone wanting to own a wolf or wolf hybrid to instead get one of these breeds. If you were to look at a wolf the first thing you are sure to notice is its piercing yellow eyes. All wolves have varying shades of yellow eyes.  This is an eye color that is occasionally found in dogs, though most have brown or sometimes blue eyes. 
     
The next thing you are sure to notice about a wolf is how big its head is.  Wolves’ heads are much larger in comparison to their body size than dogs. This is because wolves have larger brains and thus are more intelligent.  Wolves also have chests and hips which are so narrow that you can easily hold their front legs together and have them stand comfortably. This coupled with the fact that wolves have very long legs and large paws, allows them to run great distances at very high speeds.  If you were to watch a wolf run you would notice that its back remains perfectly flat. In contrast, dogs have very wide hips and chests and rather short legs in comparison to their body size.  This is the reason that dogs’ backs tend to bob up and down when they run.  
  
                                                                                               
Perhaps the biggest difference between a wolf and a dog, and also the thing that causes the most problems when owning a wolf is their mental state.  Dogs only develop to the mental stage of a 10 to 30 day old wolf puppy.   This means that mentally dogs never become adults, which allows humans to be able to tell a dog what to do because dogs want to please us. This lack of mental maturity also makes dogs more aggressive than wolves, since aggressiveness is many baby animals’ natural defense.

Wolves reach maturity at 2 to 3 years of age. Up until this point their minds are very much like that of a dog.  When wolves do finally reach maturity, they become very independent, and possessive of anything that happens to find its way into their mouth.  It is usually at this point that people who own a wolf or a hybrid find that they have an animal they can no longer control.
 M:W Resident Wolf Arrow Parker, a Border Collie mix