What is the difference between a husky and a wolf? Genetically speaking, these two animals have a common ancestor, but do they belong to the same species?
As a matter of fact, there’s a big distinction between the domesticated husky and the wild wolf, and several differences set them apart. Yet, these two animals share some similarities.
In our husky vs. wolf standoff, we will explain everything you need to know about these animals. So, let’s dive in.
Husky vs. Wolf: Are They Related?
The now-domesticated husky and the wolf share the same wolfish appearance. This is probably why some people mistakenly believe that these two animals belong to the same family.
Thousands of years ago, the genes of the now-extinct Taimyr wolf of North Asia found their way to the husky. Then, humans started domesticating these dogs in Northern Siberia, and the people of the Chukchi Tribe used these fantastic dogs to pull sleds and goods.
The wild wolf or gray wolf descends from an ancestor that existed about one million years ago. This ancestor had a more robust skull and stronger teeth, and it later evolved to the common ancestor this animal shares with huskies.
The distinction between the two species occurred about 20,000 years ago, as the gray wolf maintained its wild nature while the husky became a domesticated animal. About 5000 years ago, the Mexican wolf evolved, and later other species like the African wolf and golden jackal appeared as other members of the same family.
At the same time, dogs started evolving separately. This means that wolves are the closest living relatives to dogs, but they’re considered different animals.
Husky vs. Wolf: What Are the Similarities?
Modern huskies and wolves still hold some similarities. These physical and behavioral similarities show that they once shared a common ancestor and are the reason why some people might mistake them for one another.
DNA studies show that modern-day huskies still hold some DNA from their wolf-like ancestors. This ancestor is the reason why these dogs are strong and have a prominent hunting and prey instinct.
Yet, over the years, domestication helped put these traits under control. So, although huskies have a strong prey drive, humans managed to train them to be obedient and controlled. These instincts are stronger in wild wolves, which are natural hunters.
Both animals have finely-boned skulls with a dignified look, and they share a rather long snout. Huskies and wolves have thick furry double coats that enable them to live in cold climates. However, huskies adapted to living in warmer parts of the world, although they prefer to live in cool weather.
Huskies and wolves howl, which is related to a primitive trait both animals inherited from their common ancestor. But huskies aren’t the only dog breeds that howl, and they usually do this to warn other animals of danger or their territory.
In addition to howling, huskies tend to bark excessively, especially when they’re bored. They also make other typical dog sounds like whining and growling.
Wolves usually howl to help locate other members of the pack. They can also do this to warn other wolves of the presence of danger. Wolves use growl and bark howls to communicate, and they also produce different sounds like whimpering and growling.
Husky vs. Wolf: What Are the Differences?
Science shows that apart from the very few similarities huskies and wolves share together; these two animals don’t resemble one another. These differences explain why they have different attitudes and relationships with humans. They can also help you understand more about them.
Habitat and Distribution
Although huskies and wolves originated in similar regions, they currently live in different locations in the world. Huskies originally come from the coldest parts of Northern Siberia, but they have successfully adapted to living in different parts of the world. They live comfortably in cold weather but can also be found in warmer climates.
Wolves originally lived in the coldest parts of North Asia and North America. Some species have evolved to live in warmer climates in North Africa, but these species tend to have shorter and coarse hair compared to the long thick coat seen on high-latitude wolves.
Huskies tend to live longer than wild wolves. A husky can live between 12 and 15 years, especially when taken care of.
In the wild, a wolf can live between 6 and 8 years, but it can live longer. Some wolves can live up to 20 years in captivity, but they’re subject to different survival challenges in the wild.
Size and Body
Generally speaking, wolves tend to be larger and taller than huskies. There are different husky species, and the males are between 20 and 24 inches tall and weigh between 40 and 60 pounds. Female huskies tend to be a little shorter and more lightweight.
Wolves, on the other hand, can be about 33 inches tall. Most wolves weigh between 60 and 90 pounds, and some species can weigh more. For example, North Asian wolves are larger than North American wolves.
Wolves have bigger brains and skulls than huskies, and they usually have black noses. Huskies’ noses can be pink or black.
Although both animals have a muscular look, wolves tend to have wider chests and longer legs. Both animals have erect ears, but wolves’ ears tend to be more triangular.
A husky and a wolf are fast animals, but wolves tend to be faster. A Husky can run as fast as 30 miles per hour. This explains why this animal was initially bred as a sled dog, as it could travel in the snow.
A wolf’s speed can be between 31 and 37 miles per hour. This speed enables the animal to attack others and escape from danger.
Huskies have almond-shaped eyes that can be light brown or blue. Also, heterochromia is common in these dogs, where the animal will have one brown eye and one blue eye.
Wolves’ eyes are more round and are likely to be amber or golden. They also have a wilder look than the domesticated look of the huskies.
Both animals have a double coat, but the husky coat has shorter hair that can be gray, white, black, red, or sable. Some huskies also have an agouti coat which has light and dark patches on the coat.
Although different wolves can come in shades of black, golden, gray, and white, most Northern wolves are gray or black with some white markings.
Wolves have thicker hair on their faces with some hair on their cheeks. They have coarse hair to keep them warm in Arctic regions.
Teeth and Biting Power
Both animals have thick and powerful teeth that are specifically designed to tear their prey. But wolves tend to have thicker and longer teeth. Due to thousands of years of domestication, huskies lost their sharp teeth.
The biting power of both animals is measured in pressure per inch. A husky’s bite measures 320 PSI, which is pretty impressive for dogs. However, wolves have a stronger biting power, which measures 406 PSI.
Huskies are omnivores and usually consume a mixed diet of meat and vegetables. In a household, this dog will thrive when given a high-quality diet made of dry and wet food, which satisfies its dietary needs. It should consume a protein-rich diet with enough carbs to give it energy.
Wolves, on the other hand, are strictly carnivores. They usually feed on large hoofed animals that live in their natural habitat, like deer, elk, and bison. However, they can also feed on smaller animals like hares and beavers.
Both animals have incredible senses compared to humans, but wolves have stronger and more impressive senses. Huskies have an amazing sense of smell and hearing, but their vision isn’t that strong. They also suffer from vision problems as they grow older and can struggle with distinguishing colors.
Wolves are natural hunters, and they have a strong sense of smell that enables them to locate their prey. They also have amazing night vision.
Temperament and Socialization
Huskies and wolves have different personalities, which explains why these two animals shouldn’t be treated equally.
A husky is a bright and sociable animal, and it’s quite intelligent compared to other dog breeds. This intelligence enables this dog to be trained for various tasks, as it was mainly bred to be a working dog.
This dog is considered to be a playful companion, and when it fights, it’s usually harmless fighting that enables it to channel its energy.
A wolf is a wild animal, and it’s very hard or even impossible to train. Wolves will retain their wild and feral nature even when domesticated, so these animals can’t be family companions.
Although the wolf’s brain has a larger capacity, this intelligence is channeled to help this animal survive in challenging conditions. Unlike a husky, which you can train to do different tricks, a wolf will hardly obey orders.
Typically speaking, the husky will always be dependent on its human, more like a human child.
A wolf reaches maturity by the age of 2, and it leaves the pack to form a new pack of its own. It will be able to survive on its own, and human interaction can make it get too aggressive.
Relationship With Humans
For centuries, the husky has lived with its humans and become very fond of them. This is why it’s considered a lovely family dog, and it gets along well with adults and children.
Huskies feel uncomfortable when they don’t live with their humans, and they usually suffer from separation anxiety. This is why these dogs will be good family dogs. They’re not wary of strangers and won’t have the guard dog or watchdog instincts.
A husky enjoys playing and exchanging affection, but a wolf doesn’t experience these feelings.
In rare cases, a wolf can establish a strong connection with its caregiver. But this only happens when the animal has interacted with one human since puppyhood. Yet, even when this happens, this animal won’t be a friendly companion for humans. After years of captivity, wolves can still attack humans.
Can Huskies and Wolves Mate?
Yes, these two animals can successfully mate, but this rarely happens in nature as packs are protective of their females. Yet, mating happens, these animals can have offspring, and their offspring can also mate.
Nevertheless, for some reason, breeders have been fascinated with cross-breeding these two animals together to produce hybrid wolf dogs. This breeding can lead to different results.
Hybrid husky wolves are hard to predict because these two animals have different personalities and mature at different ages. Very experienced breeders and trainers might attempt to train these animals, but they’re quite challenging to train, and their training routine will probably fail or take a very long time.
Despite receiving some of the traits of the husky, this hybrid can be dangerous to humans and might attack them, just like a wolf. This is why this hybrid is never the right animal for a family household and should be kept away from kids. It should also be kept away from other dogs because it will likely attack them.
In many places, you might not be able to get this hybrid animal, and if you do, it will be considered an exotic pet. You need a license to raise and keep a husky wolf hybrid.
The husky and the wolf are two different animals that share one common ancestor. Thousands of years ago, these two species separated and evolved separately into the animals we know today.
Huskies and wolves have the same thick coat, but their personalities and behavioral patterns are entirely different.
Wolves are wild animals that can’t be domesticated, and they’re larger than dogs. Wolves have a stronger prey drive and feed exclusively on other animals, while huskies feed on proteins and carbs.
Huskies are friendly companions of humans, while wolves still retain their wild nature, even after being domesticated. Hybrid husky wolves are tough to train and can be pretty aggressive compared to dogs. They’re also dangerous to keep at home.