Dog Breeds Most Closely Related to Wolves

By Susan Paretts

All 400 or so modern domestic dog breeds (Canis familiaris) share a common ancestor with wild wolves, with only about a 0.2 percent difference between their DNA and that of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). However, of these breeds, scientific research has discovered that some are more closely related to wolves than others. Some of them may surprise you!

Close Relations

According to a DNA study of 85 domestic dog breeds performed by members of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, published by National Geographic, the Shiba Inu and chow chow are the two breeds most closely related to wolves. Other breeds more closely related to the wolf include the Akita, Alaskan malamute, basenji, and Chinese shar-pei While these breeds tend to share more of their DNA with the gray wolf, keep in mind that our canine companions separated from their distant wolf relatives around 15,000 years ago or more, when they first became domesticated by humans.

Dogs and Wolves

The breeds most closely related to wolves were originally developed in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Arctic, according to NBCNEWS.com. Surprisingly, not all of these breeds resemble wolves. Others, like the German shepherd, appear more wolflike but share much less DNA with their ancestors than breeds like the shih tzu. While some domestic breeds might be more closely related to wolves, that doesn't mean that they'll act like them. All young domestic dogs bond much more quickly with humans than wolves do, according to evolutionary biologist Dr. Kathryn Lord, reports the Daily Mail Online.

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References
National Geographic: Family Ties
National Geographic: Dog DNA Study Yields Clues to Origins of Breeds
NBCNews.com: Dog Genes Tell Surprising Tales
Public Broadcasting Service Online: Dogs That Changed the World
The Atlantic Online: Prehistoric Dog
BBC News: Exploring the Wolves in Dogs' Clothing

About the Author
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, crafts, television, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared in "The Southern California Anthology" and on Epinions. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.