German Shepherds and wolves belong to the same genus, Canis. This means they are related genetically. German Shepherds are often said to most resemble the wolf with their long noses, big ears, and a lean build. Whilst on the surface, they can look similar these two breeds have lots of differences which we will discover today. Some breeders have tried to cross the two breeds to create a wolfdog, however, these have been banned in lots of states, so always do your research before buying one of these puppies.
Wolves have never been domesticated, and live in packs in the wild, hunting prey that is often significantly larger than they are, which is why a team effort is needed to bring down their kill. A wolf will not want to interact with humans and should not be approached if encountered out on a walk. There are two types of wolves in the wild, the red and grey wolf, and both can survive completely independently of humans. This means they are not reliant, nor do they look to us to provide for their basic needs, whereas a domesticated dog will do these things.
The German Shepherd originated from Germany and was originally bred as a herding dog. German Shepherds are highly intelligent and loyal and have been used in police and military roles with great success. These dogs are completely domesticated and bond highly to one owner or handler in particular. They make excellent guard and defense dogs whilst being very loving and affectionate towards any children in the home they have grown up with. German Shepherds can be a little wary of strangers or new animals in the home, so you may need to go slowly with introductions. Read more about owning a German Shepherd here.
The wolf is considerably bigger than a German Shepherd, and it’s not something that is commonly realized. A wolf is roughly double in size compared to the average size German Shepherd.
A wolf stands around 26-32 inches tall and weighs in at around 80-180lbs depending on if they are female or male (females weigh less than males).
A German Shepherd female stands around 22-24 inches tall, and a male around 24-26 inches tall. A female will weigh approximately 50-70lbs whereas a male will weigh around 60-85lbs. As you can see this is much smaller than a wolf!
Interestingly, despite their differences in size and height, both the Wolf and German Shepherd have the same number of adult teeth.
Wolves eat almost a purely carnivorous diet, although will scavenge when meat options are scarce. They are excellent hunters and will eat any sort of meat available to them. A wolf can survive on a very small amount of food if needed around 2 ½ pounds per day, but can eat a total of up to 22 pounds of meat at any one sitting! A German Shepherd is usually fed a balanced, biscuit or wet food diet specifically formulated for their nutritional requirements. This diet often contains vegetables or grains to balance their nutritional needs alongside protein. A raw or meat diet has not been shown to be significantly better for a German Shepherds health.
A German Shepherd dog can be bred one to two times a year, and has on average 8 puppies per litter. German Shepherds can reach sexual maturity from as young as 6 months old. In comparison, a wolf will only breed once a year, and their litter size is smaller, 4-6 on average, and do not reach sexual maturity until around 2 years old.
The gestational length for German Shepherds and Wolves is the same, around 60-65 days, which is relatively short for an animal! Both of these breeds will nurse their young in a nest or den and feed exclusively on milk until they are old enough to start the weaning process, usually around 6-8 weeks old.
The Wolf has the stronger bite power with a psi of up to 1200 and lots of experience from hunting prey throughout its life in the wild. However, they are shy in nature and will naturally avoid humans and dogs if they feel threatened or are presented with a fight. They will fight to defend their pack or cubs. A German Shepherd has a much lower psi (around 300), a measurement of bite strength that puts it at a disadvantage in a fight from the start. They are also not generally trained to fight and could risk serious injuries if they fight a wolf in the wild.
Both dogs are speedy, clocking up speeds of between 60-70km/hr, but the wolf is faster than the German Shepherd so would outrun a German Shepherd if it needed to.
Both these breeds are powerful, athletic, and loyal to their pack. Whilst their DNA, and some physical characteristics may be very similar, as breeds of dogs they are miles apart in personality, stature, and function. A German Shepherd can make a loving family pet whereas a wolf is a wild animal, best left to enjoy its remote and untamed lives in the wild, and appreciated from afar for its natural beauty.
The wolf is bigger in height, and weight and has a stronger bite. A wolf would beat a German Shepherd in a fight.
German Shepherds share 99.9% of their DNA with wolves and are said to be descendants of the grey wolves.
Whilst some breeds such as the Kangal or Tibetan Mastiff hypothetically have the size and height to take on a wolf, we still think the wolf would win in a fight if it came down to it. Do not let your dog fight a wolf.
A wolf is stronger than a dog by far, particularly in its biting power. This is because the prey that they hunt is much larger, requiring stronger biting forces.