The Husky and The Wolf: A Side-By-Side Comparison

Last Updated on May 4, 2022 by Griselda M.

Other than the Alaskan Malamute, there is arguably no other dog that closely resembles the wolf as much as the Husky.

In this article, we will be exploring the Husky and the wolf and doing a ‘side-by-side’ comparison of the two. We will look at the differences between Huskies and wolves, and compare them in size.

The Wolf and Domestic Dogs of Today

Domestic dogs today still possess wolf DNA because they have all descended from wolves.

Once upon a time, all the way back in the Stone Ages, wolves would hang around human camps and scavenge leftover meat. Our ancestors did not ‘shoo’ these wolves away because they offered protection at night-time by howling if there was a disturbance.

Fast forward to today, and the domestic dog is man and woman’s best friend.

Selective Breeding: How The Wolf  (Sort Of) ‘became’ The Husky

Thousands of years ago, humans realized that they could use selective breeding techniques to create dogs that had the physical features they needed for a particular purpose. For example, a hunting dog would need to be fearless and fast. So the fastest and bravest dogs were used as breeding stock.

Similarly, the Chukchi people of Siberia used selective breeding techniques to develop the Husky, a dog breed that had a thick, warm coat which could handle freezing cold weather conditions, and one that had a strong survival instinct, which was essential to life in Siberia.

The Difference Between The Husky and The Wolf

The most obvious differences when it comes to the Husky vs wolf is that the wolf is much larger and that the Husky has been selectively bred to trust humans whereas wolves do not.

Having said that, Huskies do still have some very wolf-like character traits!

One such trait is their strong prey drive. If a Husky sees something small and furry dart past, they will chase it, and possibly kill it. Sounds pretty wolf-like, huh?

Like wolves, Huskies love a good howl too, but theirs sounds like more of a yodel.

They will also fight in a pack situation. The Huskies that were used during the British exploration of Antarctica were documented to have fought amongst themselves. Injured dogs were useless to the exploration effort, so were killed and eaten by the explorers and the remaining dogs.

In-fighting is a common behavior in a wolf-pack. This is so that the alpha male and female can be established, which is essential to the survival of the pack in the wild.

Which Wolf Is The Husky Most Like?

Arctic Huskies have been shown to have DNA that is related to an ancient Siberian wolf.  

A study that took place in 2015 discovered that Inuit Huskies can trace their ancestry back to the Taimyr wolves of Siberia, from a staggering 35 thousand years ago. This study showed that today’s Arctic dog breeds, such as the Husky, could have up to 27 percent Taimyr wolf genes.

Huskies today retain the coat colors that we associate with northern wolves – silver, grey, black, and white.

Husky Vs Wolf Size

So now that we know why Huskies look wolf-like, with their pointed snouts, triangular ears, and thick, brush-like tails, let’s compare the two side by side in terms of size.

Huskies are medium-sized dogs. Males weigh anywhere between 45 and 60 pounds and stand between 21 and 23.5 inches at the shoulder. Females are smaller, weighing in at 35 to 50 pounds, and are between 20 and 22 inches tall.

For the sake of comparison, let’s look at one wolf species that still exists today, the Gray Wolf.

According to the National Wildlife Federation, the Gray Wolf is “somewhat like a large German Shepherd”. Also known as Timber Wolves, this wolf species has a long, thick tail with a black tip. Its coat is a combination of white, black, and brown.

Interestingly, the further north this wolf species is found, the larger it will be. Gray wolves are the largest canids on earth, and measure 26 to 32 inches at the shoulder. On average, their body will measure somewhere between 3 and 5 feet in length, with a tail length of 1 to 2 feet! In terms of weight, these big creatures will weigh 60 to 100 pounds for females, and 70 to 145 for males.

 husky vs wolf size

Learn more about: What Is A Siberian Husky Timber Wolf Mix?

Therefore, the smallest female Gray wolf will weigh the same as the largest male Husky. Wolves weigh almost twice as much as a Husky. And there are obvious size differences between Huskies and Wolves with regards to height and length.

Other Husky Vs Wolf Info

  • Wolves can travel at a pace of 5 miles per hour, and reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour. 
  • Huskies have a top speed of 30 miles per hour, but can run a total distance of 150 miles in a day! 
  • Wolves will travel up to 30 miles a day in search of food, with a hunting territory of 50 square miles when conditions are good and 100 miles square when conditions are scarce.
  • Huskies will travel as far as their food dish in search of provisions 🙂
  • Wolves are carnivores, meaning that they eat meat, with a preference for large hoofed mammals such as deer, elk, moose, and bison. They will eat other foods if meat is scarce.
  • Huskies are omnivores, meaning that they have evolved to require other things in their diet, like grains and vegetables, which aids digestion. Whilst Huskies can eat raw meat, some have sensitive stomachs and cannot eat fatty meat. This is of course unless they were the Huskies that led the British Antarctic Expedition, which lived on seal and whale meat and blubber!
  • Wolves are skittish; Huskies can be too in the sense that they are highly distractible.
  • Both wolves and Huskies used as sled dogs rely on each other for survival.
  • Huskies, whilst a being bit of a handful, can make delightful household pets. Wolf cubs are playful and friendly up until the age of 18 months, then their hormones kick in and they become instinctively wary of humans. 
  • Both have stunning good looks!

Read more about: What Type Of Huskies Are There?

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