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The Rare and Mysterious Utonagan Dog

Move over the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute because there is another dog in town that’s taken your throne as the most wolf-like looking dog around.

Meet the Utonagan dog, a new and extremely rare breed that first appeared in the late 1980s after descending from a new line of dogs called the Northern Inuit Dog created by Edwina Harrison.

Edwina’s goal was to create a new dog breed that resembled a wolf but didn’t share its demeanor or even have any wolf in their line.   

 

husky

 

There is a lot of mystery and controversy surrounding this immaculate breed. The great mystery is this breed may no longer be in existence, and the big controversy is the reason why. 

Today we are going to be exploring those things and everything else that we know about the elusive Utonagan dog. 

Breed Characteristics 

Other Names  Wolf Dog, Northern Inuit Dog, Tamaskan dog, & British Timber dog
Breed Mixed or Designer Breed 
Group N/A
Recognized No
Lifespan 10-14 years
Size  Medium to Large
Height  23 to 30 inches at shoulder
Weight  75  to 110 lbs 
Coat Colors  Apricot, Black, Grizzle, & White 
Grooming Needs  High 
Exercise Needs  High  
Training Needs Easy
Suitable For Apartments?  No
Suitable For Families?  Yes
Suitable For Singles?  Maybe

Utonagan Dog

Friendly, gentle, and athletic, the goal of the Utonagan was to create a dog that would resemble the wolf as closely as possible while keeping all their wild personality away.

In those departments, the Utonagan was a howling success. In fact, the Utonagan name means “spirit of the wolf” and is taken from an ancient Chinook Indian tale.  

While having “wolf” in their name, it’s said that a true Utonagan dog does not have any wolf in their DNA. They are all domestic dog. Then there are others that say they should and do have wolf in them. 

Regardless, unlike other designer breeds, the Utonagan is not simply a mix of two dogs but three different breeds. And there is a possibility that there was another dog breed or even a wolf thrown into the mix in the very beginning. 

What Breeds Created The Utonagan?

To get the wolf-like appearance of the Northern Inuit Dog, Edwina bred together Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, German Shepherds and their crosses with three unknown founder dogs imported from the United States. These dogs are thought to have been either husky mixes or possibly even wolves or of wolf descent. 

With the appearance of a wolf but the personality of the domestic dog, the Northern Inuit Dog quickly caught a lot of breeders’ eyes. Some took the breed and started adding new lines into the breed, creating the Utonagan. 

 

malamute

 

If the Utonagan seems like an appealing dog for you, it’s important to learn about the parent breeds before looking for one. This is important for any designer or mixed breed. However, due to the rarity of the Utonagan dog, checking the three dog breeds that created them is even important. 

Why? Because you’re unlikely to ever find a Utonagan dog, and there is a good chance that one of the three dogs below will interest you enough to look for them instead. 

Siberian Husky 

What happens when you take the personality of a housecat and throw it into a dog that enjoys pulling sleds through miles of thick snow?

Well, you get the Siberian Husky, who’s known for their always entertaining personality and stunning appearance. Out of the three breeds that make up the Utonagan dog, the Siberian Husky resembles the wolf the closest, narrowly beating out the Alaskan Malamute, who is a bit bigger and shaggy than your average wolf. 

Siberian Husky 

Siberian Huskies live exceptionally healthy lives and have a lifespan between 12 to 15 years. This is longer than both the German Shepherd and Alaskan Malamute, who both have a life expectancy of 10-14 years.

The Siberian Husky is the smallest of the group as well, perfectly falling in the medium dog group while the other two hover around medium-large. 

Alaskan Malamute

Happy, shaggy, big, and full of life, the Alaskan Malamute is known for their loyal nature and incredible strength. Despite their bigger size, you could say the Alaskan Malamute is all around a milder version of the Siberian Husky.

They are more patient and less stubborn, they shed less despite the longer-harried coat, and they are less cunning and don’t get in trouble nearly as much like the Siberian Husky. 

Alaskan Malamute

They do tend to live shorter lives and experience more health issues. They are considered a large-size dog breed standing between 22 to 26 inches and weighing 75 to 90lbs. This puts them about 20lbs larger than the Siberian Husky on average. However, it’s quite common to see Giant Alaskan Malamutes weighing over a 100lbs, making them significantly bigger than the Siberian Husky, who are rarely bred to be larger than their breed standard.  

For the most part, the Alaskan Malamute and Siberian Husky are much more similar than they are different. 

German Shepherd Dog (GSD)

Standing about an inch taller and five pounds heavier than the Alaskan Malamute, on average, the German Shepherd is the largest of the three breeds that make up the Utonagan dog. Though with all the hair the Malamute has, it can be hard to tell. 

German Shepherd

Incredibly powerful, versatile, and a hard worker, the German Shepherd is one of the most popular dog breeds. Bred to be the everyman’s dog, the German Shepherd is the easiest dog to train out the other Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute. 

While incredibly loving, the German Shepherd is confident and protective of their family, making them exceptional watchdogs who can take a bit of time to warm up to strangers. By contrast, the Malamute and Husky are kinda aloof, rarely bark, and adore strangers even when they’re intruders.  

Behavior 

Despite looking like a spitting image of a wolf, Utonagans are far from it in personality. The Utonagan is a friendly, loving, and high-spirited dog that excels when given demanding physical and mental work. They are intelligent and moderately easy to train. They do best with families and in places where they can often get outside to run around. 

Appearance 

The Utonagan dog is meant to look like a wolf and does fairly resemble one. Like the Husky, Malamute, and GSD, they have large, erect, and sharp ears that sit high on their head.

Their coat is incredibly thick and medium-long. It’s usually white-based and rich with blacks, coppers, reds, and greys. They have sharp black eyes and almost always have a mask that juxtaposes a white muzzle.

Black Utonagan

Even rarer than the white-based coat Utonagan dog is the Black Utonagan dog, whose status is almost mythical. At this point, it’s hard to say if one even exists at this point. We’d love to know!

Utonagan Size and Utonagan Height

The Utonagan is a medium to large dog. They can weigh anywhere between 55 and 110 pounds and stand between 23 and 30 inches tall at the shoulders. If this seems abnormal to you, it is and one of the classic examples of designer breeding, which often takes two dogs of different heights.

Do Utonagan Dogs Shed?

Is Santa’s beard white? Does the Pope wear a hat? The Utonagan is a massive shedder, who sheds regularly all year-around with seasonal “blow out” periods. This breed’s grooming needs are not for the lighthearted because there are times where you’ll be brushing their coat every single day. 

Now, there are reports of Utonagan dogs who have very manageable coats. This is perhaps due to them inheriting the Alaskan Malamute’s shedding traits. Despite them having the longest hair of the bunch, Alaskan Malamutes only shed seasonally. This is unlike the Siberian Husky and German Shepherd, who heavily shed all-year around. 

If you’re planning on getting a Utonagan, Siberian Husky, or GSD, be prepared for daily brushing. It may not happen, but the odds don’t appear to be in your favor. 

Food Habit

Utonagans are fairly big eaters and do best with dog food that’s formulated for large dog breeds. They are very active dogs, so make sure their diet is rich in protein — they need a minimum of 22% protein for growth and a minimum of 18% protein in adulthood.

How Trainable Are Utonagan

The Utonagan is a highly intelligent breed that excels when given mental and physical stimulation. This makes them great candidates for agility training and learning advanced tricks. Training is essential, and while not the most difficult dog to train by far, they may not be suited for those who aren’t familiar with training. 

They have a significant amount of energy and can like to butt heads a bit during training to test your patience. This isn’t like training a Golden Retriever who is eager to please. However, the Utonagan appears to have nothing on the Siberian Husky, who are notoriously hard to train due to their stubbornness and inability to want to stay focused. 

Exercise

Utonagans need an incredible amount of exercise — about 2 hours a day. This doesn’t have to happen all in one go around, but when you do exercise them, make sure it’s physically taxing. They love running, so make sure you can keep up! 

Health 

The healthiness of the Utonagan breed is steeped in controversy, as the breed has been deemed extremely unhealthy by many of the former breeders.

In the mid-2000s, It was discovered that many of the founder dogs struggled with several health issues and that these issues have been passed down. Worse due to close genetic breeding due to a limited stock, many of these health issues increased in occurrence and severity. 

According to Kalamaki Utonaga, “Addison’s disease, epilepsy, Von Willebrand’s disease, renal disease, endocrine problems, heart defects and the many other conditions which have been found to be quite widespread in the breed”. 

Because of these health issues, many of the breeders have decided to discontinue breeding these dogs. There are a few that have continued to breed the Utonagan but have introduced new breed lines into the stock in hopes of preserving the original breed while giving them a healthy life. 

Unfortunately, some have continued to breed the unhealthy line, limiting their genetic diversity even more, causing even more health issues. 

Utonagan Puppies

Getting a puppy is a big decision no matter the breed, but don’t worry, we are here to help with the basics. 

One of the first things you’ll want to do when you’re getting a new puppy is prepping for them. Make sure you have bedding, a crate, food & water bowls, food, and a leash by the end of the first day.

As well, it’s a great idea to already have a veterinarian in mind because you’ll want to schedule your new puppy’s appointment within the first two days of having them. 

When it comes to training your new puppy, potty training and the command sit are the first two things to work on. After that teaching the basics, behavioral commands like no, stay, come, etc. are a great idea. Speaking of behavior, you’ll want to make sure you’re socializing your new puppy around other people, dogs, and small animals like cats.

Where To Get A Utonagan

At the moment, it’s pretty much impossible to get a Utonagan. Due to apparent health issues stemming from the original stock, most breeders have decided to stop breeding this breed. A German Shepherd and Siberian Husky mix will be similar enough to the Utonagan, and will be much easier to find. 

FAQ – Miscellaneous 

In What Country Was The Utonagan Dog Breed Developed?

The Utonagan dog breed was first developed in the United Kingdom.  

What Dog Breed is Most Like a Wolf?

The three original dog breeds used to create the Utonagan were picked for a good reason, and that’s because the Siberian Husky, Alaskan Malamute, and German Shepherd all resemble wolves a good amount.

How Tall Can an Utonagan Jump

The Utonagan can jump between 4 to 6 feet tall. 

How Much Do Utonagan Puppies Cost?

The Utonagan is a rare breed that has only gotten even rarer as it appears these dogs are no longer bred due to health issues. Buying a Utonagan puppy is extremely risky as many of the good breeders have stopped breeding them, leaving many of the bad ones left. Take extreme caution and do a lot of research. 

Dogs Like The Utonagan?

Besides the Siberian Husky, German Shepherd, and Alaskan Malamute, there are a few other dogs that closely resemble the Utonagan, and even better, some are not as rare. 

The Tamaskan, British Inuit, and Timber Dog all share the same lineage of the Utonagan dog. Which started when Edwina Harrison bred three unknown dogs imported from the States with Huskies, Malamutes, GSDs, and crosses to create the original line that spawn off to create the Utonagan dogs.

It’s said that the Northern Inuit Dog was the original dog Harrison created and that she never intended to create a new breed. She just wanted a dog for herself that fit her vision of the perfect dog. One that looked like a Canadian Timber Wolf but had the loving and friendly personality of the domestic dog. 

It is important to note, however, that the Tamaskan, British Inuit, and Timber Dog all have wolf crossed into their genes in some manner separating them from the pure Utonagan. 

Conclusion

A dog breed shrouded in mystery, the Utonagan dog is one incredible breed who we hope doesn’t disappear. While their numbers have considerably dwindled, there are still a few breeders working hard to save the line from both extinction and the numerous health issues that are causing it.

If you’re looking for a dog like the Utonagan, your best bet is looking into one of the original dogs that were used to create them. This includes the Alaskan Malamute, the Siberian Husky, and the German Shepherd, who are all great and fantastic dogs. As well, there is the Shepsky, who is a mix of the Siberian Husky and the GSD. 

 

“If you don’t own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life.” – Roger A. Caras

 

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