Siberian huskies look so much like wolves that it can be hard to tell them apart, but unlike their wild brethren, huskies are completely domesticated dogs who are loyal to their human pet parents. Sometimes, though, if a husky escapes, she might mate with a wolf and produce hybrid offspring, or an "exotic" breeder may purposefully mate a husky with a wolf to produce a "wolf dog."
No matter what the circumstances, if you suspect that your Siberian husky is part wolf, there are certain physical characteristics and personality traits for which you can look. This is important because owning a wolf-dog hybrid is illegal in many states, and your dog can wind up being potentially dangerous as an adult.
Husky-wolf hybrid DNA test
The easiest way to determine if your Siberian husky is part wolf is to perform a canine DNA test on him. These tests are readily available online and through your veterinarian. DNA tests are painless to your dog and involve swabbing the pup's cheeks and gums with a small, bristled brush for a few minutes and submitting the sample to a lab for testing.
Although not foolproof, these tests can usually determine if your pup has any wolf DNA for up to three generations. The lab tests both males and females for X-chromosome markers specific for wolf DNA and tests male dogs for Y-chromosome markers. Results are compared against existing dog and wolf haplotypes on file in a database.
Husky-wolf mix physical traits
Although huskies and wolves look alike, there are some subtle differences. Wolves don't have curled tails or a white mask-like fur pattern on their face. They also tend to have smaller and rounder ears, wider heads, smaller chests and longer legs.
On average, wolves are significantly larger than huskies. The average male husky is between 45 and 60 pounds, while the average male wolf is between 75 to 120 pounds. Female huskies range in weight from 35 and 50 pounds, while their wolf counterparts weigh between 60 and 95 pounds.
If you notice that your dog seems significantly larger than the average husky or has physical traits similar to those of a wolf, your dog may be a hybrid. A veterinarian or breed expert can help you determine if this is the case by examining your dog.
Wolf-dog hybrid personality
The main difference between wolves and dogs is their personality. After all, dogs have been bred for thousands of years to become the domesticated companions we know today, including huskies. Wolves, on the other hand, are wild animals and behave as such.
In general, wolf-dog hybrids are more aggressive and more prone to hunt and kill other small pets in the home than a normal husky. They are territorially aggressive and food aggressive too. Plus, they are much more likely to urinate and defecate within the home whenever they please.
Legality of wolf-dog breeds
Due to their much more aggressive and unpredictable personalities, many states across the country have outlawed owning wolves or wolf-dog hybrid animals altogether. Some municipalities that allow them categorize them as "dangerous dogs," while others categorize them as wild or exotic animals. Locations where they are categorized as wild animals will require that owners comply with the regulations for owning them, complete with the necessary permits, habitat, and safety measures required for these animals.
Although some think that wolf-dog hybrids are cute dog breeds due to their wolflike characteristics, these dogs have wild characteristics that don't make them good pets. They can be very dangerous, especially when they reach sexual maturity around 1 to 4 years of age. So, it's best to stick with owning a dog who looks like a wolf, such as a husky, and allowing any wolves or wolf hybrids to live in the wild or in wolf sanctuaries.
- Wolf Park: How are Wolves Different From Dogs?
- International Wolf Center: Wolf-Dog Hybrids
- Animal Law Source: Wolf Hybrids
- Municipal Research and Services Center of Washington: Dangerous Dogs, Wolves, Coyotes, and Dog-Hybrids
- UC Davis Veterinary Medicine: Wolf-Dog Hybrid Test
- American Kennel Club: Siberian Husky
- Patricia McConnell: The Tragedy of Wolfdogs
- Animal Planet: Breed Selector
- The Wolfdog Project: Wolf or Dog? It's a Gray Area