What Are The Differences Between Wolves And Dogs?


Our loyal canine friends are closely related to the wolves. This could be hard to believe but as a matter of fact, they do share an extinct wolf as their ancestor. Scientists have agreed upon the fact that wolves and dogs belong to the same species since they can reproduce to create a wolf-dog which is a fertile offspring.

Despite the similarity of origin, there are differences which exist in terms of evolution as well as behavior. If you are curious to know the differences between wolves and dogs, read on and get to learn about these distinguishing factors. 



This is the most significant part to start with. Wolves and dogs are of the same sub-species, canis lupus, but they have varying appearances. For instance, the heads of wolves are bigger than dogs’ heads.

Wolves are well adapted to the rough life of the wilderness since they have huge paws and long legs to enable them to run for long distances at extremely high speeds. Their hips and chests are rather narrow. Wolves have bigger jaws which are adapted to crush bones.

Very different from the wolves, dogs have shorter legs and wider chests and hips. Their running is characterized by too much bobbing, unlike the wolves which are sneaky and smooth runners. Our canine friends have smaller and less strong jaws than those of wolves since they only use them to gnaw their toys and chew kibble.

Focusing on the eyes of both wolves and dogs, you will note a major difference. Wolves’ eyes have various shades of amber or yellow but not brown. Dogs, on the other hand, have eyes which are of different colors. The most common colors are brown and blue.

A dog’s eyes can even have different colors, with one in each. Those two eye colors are lovely, probably one of the many reasons why we can’t help but fall in love with our canine companions. 


The behavior of wolves and dogs as they interact with the environment is quite different. When dealing with human beings, dogs are friendlier to human beings since they consider us as part of their family. This can describe their loyalty to us. They grow to learn and understand the expressions we show from time to time.

When encountered with a puzzle, you can be sure that your dog will look at you in a bid to get assistance. Wolves find means to solve the puzzle all by themselves. Wolves, on the other hand, have never sought affection from human beings. In their early lives, they form family units in the wilderness in which they find solace. They also do not accept strangers into their families.


Wolves are not frequent barkers like dogs. Dogs consider barking a crucial way of communicating among themselves and also with human beings. The quality of barking for dogs is treasured. In the past, they were selectively bred for their barking trait. This is because they played a major role in protecting livestock from predators and potential thieves.

On the other hand, wolves howl more compared to dogs especially for long-distance communication. Another significant behavioral difference between wolves and dogs is their tendency to play. Dogs’ possess an exaggerated playful behavior compared to wolves.
Dogs carry this behavior all the way to adulthood and they are easily stimulated to get into the mood game. Play for adult wolves in rather occasional. 


Wolves and dogs have significant reproductive differences. Female wolves come into heat only once per year. The young ones of wolves are born during spring. A wolf gives birth to very few pups, they range from two to four per litter. This gives the pups enough time to grow sturdier and stronger before the winter season sets in.


On the other hand, all dogs apart from the Basenji breed come into heat several times per year. This could be due to domestication which has provided a favorable environment for dogs to raise their offspring compared to the wolves which raise their young ones in the wild. Dogs are capable of giving life to larger litters which could be twelve puppies per litter.

Dog pups develop slower than wolf pups. This slow pace applies even in the socializing bit since wolves socialize with the packs into which they are born within two weeks. This is unlike dog pups whose socialization could happen after a whole month. 

Probability of Domestication

Now that dogs and wolves belong to the same sub-species, you could be wondering whether you can train one and tame it. The simple response for this one is that you cannot domesticate a wolf. Both of them can be trained but for wolves, it does not go beyond that.

The reason behind this difference is that the aspect of domestication has been brought about by many years of breeding. If you raised a wolf, it can get attached to you but it cannot be compared to how a dog would get attached to you if you are its parent.

Dogs have exceedingly been defined as domestic friends. They are loyal to their parents and offer protection by showing hostility to strangers or people who seem hostile. 

Different Diets


The diets of wolves and dogs are not at par due to the different environments in which they live. Both of them are carnivores and their dental formula and digestive systems are modified to digest meat. Wolves feed on animals such as buffalos, moose, deer and antelopes.

They prefer feeding on meatier and bigger game and their bodies are well adapted for hunting. However, they still feed on smaller animals. Due to domestication, dogs have become more open to a variety of foods which are offered by human beings. 


It is clear that there exist differences between wolves and dogs. They have many things in common including a common ancestor but the differences are outstanding. This is just but the bit that intrigued me to do a research on both wolves and dogs.

I hope the puzzle on the differences between wolves and dogs has now been answered. The bottom line is that you should never try to tame a wolf. Stick to your friendly and loyal canine friend and you will enjoy undivided attention and companionship.

Leave a comment on the article and let us know if there are other outstanding differences that we have left out. Where you have questions, we have answers and are willing to give them to you as soon as we can. 


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