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Husky vs. Wolf: Are They Related? (Differences & Similarities)

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The main difference between a husky and a wolf is domestication. They have many differences, but also similarities. They share many physical traits, they’re social creatures, and they’re carnivores. 

Dogs are descendants of wolves, which is why many dog breeds look like the wolf. The husky is one of the dog breeds most associated with wolves.

They look very alike, they share much of the same behavior, yet they’re very different animals.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences and similarities between huskies.

TraitWolfHusky
Height31-35” (80-85 cm)19.5-23.4” (60-60 cm)
Weight65-175 lbs (30-80 kg)27-60 lbs (16-27 kg)
Lifespan10-14 years12-15 years
DistributionUnited States, Canada, Eurasia, AfricaWorldwide
DietCarnivoreOmnivore/Carnivore

Wolf & Husky History

Wolves, and huskies are by some people confused for the same animal. However, they are completely different creatures with many differences between them both physically and behaviorally. 

The first thing to look at is their history. 

Robert K. Wayne from the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology believes that wolves came to exist around 2 to 3 million years ago. 

When the man came around they were somewhat trained, as humans appreciated how useful wolves could be as hunters. It was not until later that people began domesticating these animals. 

Huskies on the other hand originated from Siberia where humans bred them specifically for sledding and hunting capabilities.

Sledding with husky dogs

Are Huskies Related to Wolves?

The husky is related to wolves. Wolves and dogs share 99.9% of DNA, as dogs are descendants of wolves.

The husky is a domesticated dog that looks similar to the wolf. The husky and the wolf are related, but certain key characteristics distinguish them from each other. 

Wolves tend to be bigger than huskies, they’re also wild animals that tend to stay away from humans, whereas huskies live amongst humans. They’ve been domesticated, meaning they’re used to living with humans.

Some experts believe dogs and wolves to be two separate species, while others believe them to be the same species, as dogs are technically just a subspecies of wolves.

Related: What dog is closest to a wolf?

siberian husky

Wolf vs. Husky Appearance

Wolves are generally bigger than huskies, both regarding height and weight. Wolves typically have yellow eyes, whereas huskies have either deep blue or brown eyes. The coat of huskies can be a multitude of colors, whereas the grey wolf is typically only shades of gray and white.

Wolf vs. Husky Size Comparison

Huskies and wolves are both larger animals. They can grow to be quite tall, but huskies tend to be shorter than the average wolf (in most cases). 

Male huskies are typically around 21-23 inches at their shoulders, while female huskies are about 19.5 inches to 21.5 inches. Wovles measure in at 31-35 inches. 

Wolves also tend to be heavier than huskies, weighing between 65-176 lbs, whereas huskies only weigh about 27-60 lbs.

Wolves have longer legs and bigger paws which allows them to move faster than huskies do.

wolf-on-hill-near-stones-and-snow

Facial Features

The husky’s face is smaller and narrower than the wolf’s. They have a more narrow head and thinner fur around their muzzle, eyes, and ears. Both wolves and huskies have stiff ears, whereas huskies are a bit more pointy.

They have similar eyes, though huskies have straight eyes, and wolves have slanted eyes.

husky-dog-outdoor

Colors

One of the key differences between huskies and wolves is their colors. Huskies can come in a variety of colors, including black and white, gray, white, red, sable (a dark brown), and a combination of them all. 

Wolves, on the other hand, typically have a mix of three colors: gray, black, and white. The red wolf does have somewhat red fur, but these are quite rare.

Related: What colors can wolves be?

Husky dog portrait

Eyes

One of the most noticeable differences between huskies and wolves is their eyes. Huskies typically have blue or brown eyes, while most wolves have yellow eyes. 

Wolves also tend to have more slanted eyes than huskies.

Related: Wolf eye colors

husky eyes

Temperament

While the two animals share many things, temperament is not one of them. Huskies are domesticated, meaning they are used to living with humans. Wolves are more aggressive and defensive toward humans and tend to stay away.

Huskies are very friendly animals that enjoy being around humans. They love playing games like fetch or frisbee, so if you’re looking for a dog to play with your kids then the husky is perfect. [1]

Wolves on the other hand aren’t quite as social towards humans because of their instincts to stay away from people. They’re more aggressive than huskies as well.

Both animals have high stamina and can hence run for long periods of time. Both can cover great distances within a single day.

husky playing with a man

Habitats & Locations

Wolves are located in the United States, Euroasia, Africa, and Canada. Huskies, being domestic dogs, can be found anywhere in the world, but thrive in colder climates.

Wolves live primarily in forests, especially taiga, tundra, and grasslands, but they can adapt easily to living anywhere from deserts to mountainous terrain – as long as there’s sufficient food available for them throughout their range. [2]

Huskies on the other hand typically reside in cold climates near waterways or open countries such as plains, marshes, or forest regions that tend toward colder temperatures than those found closer inland. 

They’re originally from Siberia, which may explain why they thrive in cold climates.

husky in the snow

Social Behavior

One major similarity between huskies and wolves is their social behavior. They both live in packs. Wolves do so for protection, hunting, and general survival, while huskies thrive more in a pack, often used for sledding.

Wolves are pack animals, meaning they live in large groups or packs of family members. They work together to kill prey, look after the young ones, find shelter, protect themselves from other predators like humans.

Huskies also live in packs. Their pack mentality translates well into how they’re used as sled dogs. The strongest huskies work as pack leaders, running in the front of the sled.

This means that husky owners often report having more than one husky at home. They prefer company over being alone for long periods of time. 

However, if you would want to own just one husky it’s definitely possible. Wolves, on the other hand, cannot survive without a pack. They typically won’t survive on their own in the wild.

pack of wolves in the winter season

Diet

Both Huskies and wolves are primarily carnivores, meaning that they eat mostly meat. However, both animals can also eat plants and vegetables, making them somewhat omnivores.

Wolves are opportunistic hunters, which means that they will eat whatever is available to them. This includes small animals such as rodents, deer, elk, moose, bison, and even fish. 

If no animals are available, they’ll eat fruit or berries to avoid starvation.

Huskies, on the other hand, are more selective in what they eat. They’re typically fed a high-protein diet of 80% dry kibble and 20% wet food.

Both Huskies and wolves require a lot of protein in their diet in order to stay healthy. However, the type of protein that they consume can differ. Wolves are known to eat a lot of organ meat [3], which is high in protein. 

Huskies, on the other hand, typically consume more muscle meat. This is because it is easier for them to digest.

While huskies and wolves share many similarities in their diets, there are some key differences as well. Ultimately, it all comes down to what is available in their respective habitats. Since huskies are domestic dogs, they’re also fed dog food, which is not available to wolves.

Related: What do wolves eat?

grey wolf eating

Lifespan

The lifespan of huskies is slightly longer than that of wolves. Huskies can live for up to 15 years, while wolves in the wild typically don’t live past the age of 14.

Wolves have a naturally shorter lifespan than huskies, due to the fact that they live in the wild. They aren’t taken care of by humans and have to survive on their own.

The lifespan of wolves may be cut short due to illness or being killed by other predators. While they may live to be 14, the average wild wolf often doesn’t make it past 10.

If they were kept well-fed and safe from danger within human homes, however, they may live for 16 years, or even up to 20.

Huskies live with humans, they’re fed healthy diets, they don’t go starving, and when they’re injured or sick they get treated by trained veterinarians. All of this adds up to a longer lifespan. They typically live for 12-15 years.

Related: How long do wolves live?

dressing wound of a husky

Wolf-Dog Hybrids

Wolf-dog hybrids, also known as wolfdogs are bred for various purposes, including companionship. 

Wolves and dogs have the same number of chromosomes and are capable of crossbreeding. Wolves can mate with many dogs, but they typically won’t do so in nature. Wolves tend to keep to themselves.

Wolfdogs bred from wolves and huskies do exist, but they’re very rare. They come with quite a few challenges and are not as easily trained and domestic dogs.

A crossbreed between a wolf and a dog will inherit traits from both. They will look like a mix of the two dogs that have been bred and will inherit behavioral traits from both as well.

This makes wolfdogs less human-friendly, and they need a lot of training before they’re fully controllable. Wolfdogs are generally not recommended as pets.

Can Wolves Be Domesticated?

Wolves can not be domesticated. Huskies are already domesticated. They’re used to living with humans and have this domestic trait encoded in their genes. Wolves don’t

While wolves can be tamed, it’s important to distinguish between tame and domestic wolves. Where domestic dogs are genetically friendly too and used to, humans, wolves are wild animals. Even if they’re tamed, they’re still considered wild animals.

Related: Can you tame a wolf?

man-stroking-wolf

Huskies are a breed of dog that has been selectively bred for hundreds of years to assist humans – originally with pulling sleds and other heavy objects over long distances in harsh conditions. 

Through breeding, huskies have evolved specific characteristics which make them more suitable as pets. Wolves don’t make good pets simply because it’s unnatural for wild animals to live among us. 

Wolves aren’t suited for domestication due to a number of reasons:

  1. They need a lot of space to roam and hunt.
  2. They’re dangerous wild animals.
  3. Most veterinarians won’t treat wolves.
  4. They need a specific diet.
  5. They haven’t been bred for domestication as dogs have.

FAQs

Is a Husky a Wolf or a Dog?

A husky is a type of dog. Some experts believe dogs and wolves to be the same species, which would technically make a husky both a wolf and a dog. This breed was originally used for sledding in Siberia and kept in extremely cold climates. They are related to wolves and share 99.9% of their DNA with them but have lived alongside humans since they were domesticated thousands of years ago.

Do Huskies and Wolves Get Along?

Generally, no, wolves and huskies don’t get along. Wolves don’t get along with any other animals but their own pack, where many dogs love interacting with other species of dogs.

Wolves are known to kill hunting dogs when they come across them, as they see them as competition and enemies.

Do Huskies Have Wolf DNA?

The answer to this question is both yes and no. While huskies and wolves share 99.9% of their DNA, dogs were domesticated so long ago, that their gene pool is now their own, and can’t be considered wolf DNA anymore.

However, due to huskies being descendants of wolves, they still share many similarities. The pack mentality seen in wolves has been passed down to huskies. Both animals are carnivores, and they share many physical attributes.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.

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