Difference between a Wolf and a Dog

June 27, 2016 by Editorial Team

There are so many dog breeds out there that is seems difficult to believe that at one point, they all came from one common ancestor. What is more, some breeders are trying to mix healthy wolf genes with dog genes, in order to get a sort of super pet. This only goes to show how far from their ancestral DNA dogs have come and even how badly some breeders have perverted the species in view of creating a specific vision of a canine. So what is the difference between man’s best friend and his wild cousin now?


A wolf in the wild

A wolf is a member of the canid family that lives in the wild areas of Eurasia and North America. With males growing to a maximum of 95 – 99 lb and females of 79 – 85 lb, this is the largest member of the family. Their features are pointy and rather long, compared to other canides, and their fur is long and bushy, especially in winter, and it only sheds once a year, in late spring or early summer. They can be red, pure white, gray and black and their eyes are black, brown or pale green, although their coats can change color as they age. There is some discussion about whether or not wolves can have the blue eyes gene. A compromise solution meant accepting that they can have deep blue eyes at birth, but that the color fades with age as well. Also, their canine teeth are very strong and curvy, as they are constantly being used to crush the bones of their prey.

Canis lupus is a carnivore what hunts in packs and mates for life. Just like shedding they have a fixed mating and birthing season, and the wolf pups are only born in late spring. Gestation periods are of 65-68 days. Their relationship with humans has always been a tumultuous one as they are known to attack settlements and domestic animals. These are wild animals, therefore not recommended as pets. Life expectancy is 7 – 15 years. A wolf’s distinctive sound is the howl.


The dog or Canis Lupus Familiaris is a domesticated member of the canid family and it can be selectively bred to meet various and very specific requirements. They have come to perform roles such as hunting, herding, and providing police, therapy and handicapped people assistance, as well as being pets. With their excessive breeding and with the development of so many different breeds, it is difficult to say what the general characteristics of the species are. Even so, we can mention that they shed twice a year, their babies are born all year round and the gestation period is of 58-65 days. Depending on the breed, dogs’ life expectancy is 10-20 years.


Although it has long been considered that dogs are the domesticated version of the same species, in reality, dogs are the domesticated version of a species of canide which has already become extinct. On this note, we can only say that wolves are the distant and wild cousins of dogs. There are a lot of differences between the two, even though their genes resemble each other in many respects.

As far as appearance goes, wolves have sharper canine teeth which are better for breaking bones and their muzzles are tight and long, adapted to eating carcasses. Their legs are longer and their paws are wider. Wolves are mainly carnivores and they can go for days without feeding. Dogs, on the other hand, have adapted to the omnivorous diet due to their association with humans. They are also much more sociable and their lives are best with a family to look after them. Compared to dogs, wolves have a shorter period of socialization and even so, they remain shy and wary of the human presence.

Comparison Chart

Member of the Canide familyMember of the Canide family
Pointy features, constitution generally adapted to hunting and living in the wildNumerous breeds make for a very wide variety of features and habits
Canis LupusCanis Lupus Familiaris
Their coats and eyes may change color as the animal agesThey always have the same coat and eye color
They shed only once a yearThey shed twice a year
Gestation period of 65-68 daysGestation period of 58 -65 days
Have only one mating and birthing periodHave pups all year round
Life expectancy is of 7 – 15 yearsLife expectancy is of 15 – 20 years
Do not warm up to humansTheir life revolves around humans