Many big dogs bear a striking resemblance to their wild cousins, the wolf. These breeds include Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and German Shepherds.
But wolves are wild animals, while domesticated dogs have been bred for centuries to live with humans. In this article, we’re going to look at the differences between big dogs and wolves.
Besides their majestic appearance, the thing that most people think of when they think about wolves is their piercing howl, which they use to communicate with their pack.
Wolves and humans have a long history of not interacting well and in many parts of the world, natural wolf populations have been hunted nearly to extinction. Currently, the largest wolf populations are found in Canada, Asia, and Alaska.
Wolves are the largest of the wild dog species and males can weigh in at up to 180 pounds.
Wolves are social animals and live in packs of 6 to 12. They will cooperate to take down large prey such as moose, deer, and elk. The entire pack will care for the offspring of the alpha male and female wolves.
One of the biggest success stories for wolves in the lower 48 states of the U.S. is their reintroduction to Yellowstone National Park, which helped to rebalance the ecosystem by bringing back keystone predators.
What is a Big Dog?
A big dog by our definition is a dog that is over 50 pounds. Big dogs can either be large breed dogs or giant breed dogs. The most popular big breed dogs include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds.
Both purebred and mixed breed large dogs have been bred for centuries to be good human companions.
Dogs are fully domesticated animals and rely on their humans for care, food, and shelter. Big breed dogs can vary tremendously in disposition, size, and exercise needs.
Dogs are social animals and need attention from their humans and/or other dogs to be at their best. Without enough attention and exercise, some big breed dogs can get destructive.
Big dogs and wolves both belong to the dog family and can have similar looks. Siberian Huskies (as pictured above) in particular resemble their wild cousins.
Both big dogs and wolves are social animals and like to live in their “packs.” Big breed dogs can have a pack that consists of humans and other dogs, while wolves have packs that consist just of other wolves.
Wolves and big dogs are both carnivores and need to eat a meat-based diet.
Except for a few breeds such as Poodles, big dogs and wolves also both shed. Shedding is usually more prominent during spring and winter when the dogs are getting in their seasonal coats to protect them from the weather.
The biggest difference between big dogs and wolves is that big dogs are domesticated and make wonderful companions for humans while wolves are wild animals.
Wolves have a complicated relationship with humans because they tend to hunt and kill livestock. In the continental United States, wolves have been hunted to the point of being an endangered species in many areas.
Big dogs, on the other hand, are often referred to as man’s best friend and many breeds are bred to help humans with hunting, farming, and herding.
Wolves also howl to communicate. Big dogs will often bark to alert their owners of strangers or threats, but except for a few types of hunting dogs, they rarely howl.
In general, wolves are larger than big dogs. But some of the giant breed dogs like Newfoundlands and Mastiffs can rival or even exceed a wolf in size.
Adult wolves can range from 50 pounds up to 180 pounds. Big dogs usually are around 50 pounds to about 110 pounds. But giant breed dogs can reach up to 200 pounds or more.
Another big difference in size between wolves and big dogs is body type. Wolves have the same body type and are lean and powerful. Big dogs on the other hand are bred for many different purposes. Some of them are short and powerful, while others are tall and lean.
Yes. Wolves will attack big dogs, especially if they are operating cooperatively in a pack. This is rare, but it can happen.
The best way to keep a wolf from attacking a large dog is to make sure that you aren’t leaving potential food sources out for wolves to be attracted to. Always cover your garbage and make sure that no food is left out in the open.
No, wolves are wild animals and are not meant to live in domestic settings. If you have a very large piece of land you might have wild wolves that live on your land, but you should never try to make a wolf a pet.
In many of the lower 48 states in the U.S. wolves are considered either endangered or threatened. They are protected under federal law in many states.
Some people do own wolf-dog hybrids, but these animals can still be very wild and the laws about ownership vary from community to community.
Big dogs make excellent pets if you are willing to put the work, time, and effort into them.
Big dogs can require significant amounts of regular exercise and interaction. They can also cost up to several hundred dollars a month to own. You need to be able to commit to a dog for 10 to 12 years if you are going to get a big dog.
If you are ready to make that commitment then a big dog can make a wonderful companion, protector, and friend that you will enjoy for many years.