All 400 or so modern domestic dog breeds (Canis familiaris) are actually closely related to their wild wolf ancestors, with only about a 0.2 percent difference between their DNA and that of the gray wolf (Canis lupus). Of these breeds, scientific research has discovered that some are more closely related to wolves than others.
According to a DNA study of 85 domestic dog breeds performed by members of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, published by National Geographic, the Shiba Inu and chow chow are the two breeds most closely related to wolves. Other breeds more closely related to the wolf include the Akita, Alaskan malamute, basenji, Chinese shar-pei and Siberian husky. While these breeds tend to share more of their DNA with the gray wolf, keep in mind that our canine companions separated from their distant wolf relatives around 15,000 years ago or more, when they first became domesticated by humans.
Dogs and Wolves
The breeds most closely related to wolves were originally developed in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and the Arctic, according to NBCNEWS.com. Surprisingly, not all of these breeds resemble wolves. Others, like the German shepherd, appear more wolflike but share much less DNA with their ancestors than breeds like the shih tzu. While some domestic breeds might be more closely related to wolves, that doesn't mean that they'll act like them. All young domestic dogs bond much more quickly with humans than wolves do, according to evolutionary biologist Dr. Kathryn Lord, reports the Daily Mail Online.
- National Geographic: Family Ties
- National Geographic: Dog DNA Study Yields Clues to Origins of Breeds
- NBCNews.com: Dog Genes Tell Surprising Tales
- Daily Mail Online: Why a Wolf Will Never be Man’s Best Friend: Scientists Find Out Why Dogs Become Domesticated (and Say the First Month of Their Life is Key)
- Public Broadcasting Service Online: Dogs That Changed the World
- Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images