It seems like all of the resources I can easily find online for identifying wolves vs dogs are either massive and difficult to understand without prior knowledge of the subject, or extremely bare-bones and miss a lot of key information. I tried to hit a comfortable middle-ground. (sorry if it’s a little wordy) This tutorial is made as a reference for drawing, so everything but purely visual differences between dogs and wolves have been left out.
I’ve been wanting to make this for a while now, so I’m glad I finally sat down and did it!
**EDIT** When it comes to the section on wolfdogs, please take it with a grain of salt. With something as complicated as genetics, they are of course, not going to be as simple as I make it seem. What features different levels of content can display, and even which percentages designate which levels of content are often hotly debated within the wolfdog community. At this point I’ve elected not to change the image set itself because: a. it’s a huge pain in the ass b. this is a tutorial for beginning artists. It’s meant to be a hugely simplified version of the topic, and I’ve stated clearly that it is NOT to be used in real-world identification.
**EDIT 2** A couple people have noted that the puppies section is a little misleading. Wolf puppies will always be born a solid brown, but that brown can range from a very dark brown (appearing as black) to a llight, gray-ish brown. The important point is that wolf pups will always be a solid colorwith even less distinguishable markings than even adult wolves. (also this guide does not include color possibilities related to birth defects or other genetic anomalies such as albinism)
((Huge thanks to yourdogisnotawolf. who’s blog inspired me to make this and for digging up that amazing picture of the wolf/lab mix))
The gorgeous animal pictured above was killed on July 15th at a shelter in California. He was labeled as a “wolfdog” but was, in reality, a northern-breed domestic dog.
Why did this happen?
Simple: Shelters in the USA cannot legally adopt-out wolfdogs to the general public. If wolfdog-specific rescues don’t step in, these dogs are put to sleep. The problem is that wolfdog rescue is, in itself, very strenuous work. Many such rescues are forced to focus their efforts solely on animals that bear legitimate wolf content as a result.
Wolfy-looking dogs, like the one above, have no place to go then, and are put to sleep instead.
The solution to this problem is pretty simple: People need to stop labeling their domestic dogs as “wolfdogs”. It gives others the wrong impression about how real wolfdogs look and act, resulting in widespread confusion about the breed. Many people assume that huskies, malamutes, German shepherds, and their mixes are wolfdogs, or even mistake them for actual wolves, simply because they don’t look like a purebred this-or-that.
Please feel free to read more about the dangers of wolfdogs misrepresentation HERE.