Upon seeing it for the first time, many are those who confuse Utonagans with wolves on account of their similar looks. The similarity, however, only extends as far as their physical traits because Utonagans are a lot more sociable and well-behaved than their wild doppelgangers.
Now, the reason why these dogs look so much like wolves is because they were bred for this exact purpose. To achieve such a goal, breeders had to mix Alaskan Malamutes, Siberian Huskies, and German Shepherds.
These are strong, muscular dogs, covered by a beautiful and dense coat. Even though they look at a bit wild, they are usually very gentle and loving dogs that make very good family dogs if they’re socialized properly.
As a matter of fact, they are known to be very mellow around children and old people, which makes them more or less perfect as pets. At the same time, however, they are very dependable guard dogs that possess a lot of physical strength.
Table of Contents
- What is a Utonagan? (Overview)
- Utonagan Appearance
- Utonagan Personality and Temperament
- Caring for a Utonagan
- Buying a Utonagan
- Quick Breed Summary Table
What is a Utonagan? (Overview)
Originally created in the 1980s to resemble a wolf while retaining a dog’s best qualities, these dogs have enjoyed a slow but steady growth in popularity over the years.
It should be said that these are not aggressive dogs but that they require a firm hand and someone to guide them through their development both in regard to behavior and training.
When properly trained and socialized, these dogs make very good companions for families comprising children and/or old people.
It is also advised that people who get these types of dogs invest in the infrastructure required to contain them as they are known to jump fences and dig their way out of yards.
These dogs are medium to large dogs, slender in nature yet remarkably strong by most standards.
Bred to resemble wolves, these dogs have erect ears, full tails, and thick double coats that vary in appearance based on the season.
It has to be said that the outer coat is straight and slightly coarse to the touch and that it resembles that of a Husky in that regard.
Interestingly enough, the coat can be cream, silver-grey, or brown with a black overlay depending on genetics. In this respect, they closely resemble Northern Inuit dogs to some extent, which is understandable considering that both breeds have similar origins.
Height & Weight
In regards to physical standards, the male Utonagan can grow up to be 26 inches or more in height while the female will grow to 25 inches at most with both the male and the female weighing between 55 and 90 lbs on average.
It needs to be said that with Utonagans, the overall build of the dog in regards to appearance and proportion is more important than its actual weight. We say this because proportion dictates how healthy the dog will be and whether not it will develop any medical risks later in life.
Color & Coat
These interesting dogs can resemble huskies or wolves in regards to coat color, which means that they can showcase a mixture of gray, black, and white fur.
It is also possible for these dogs to have a predominantly black or gray coat with white being the least common.
At the same time, some pups can possess a gray coat earlier in life that eventually brightens up over time to the point where it becomes almost white when they reach full maturity.
Utonagan dogs possess a very thick medium-long double coat that requires surprisingly little grooming. This coat is straight for the most part, with smooth hair in the outer coat and a soft yet dense undercoat.
I should point out that these types of dogs usually showcase a clearly defined mask that’s both distinctive and pretty to look at.
Interestingly enough, the thick double coat doesn’t require too much grooming, not like Huskies by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, owners of Utonagans are advised to brush the dogs twice a week, a little more often than that during the spring or late summer when the dogs blow their coat.
Utonagan Personality and Temperament
As far as intelligence goes, Utonagans are quite intelligent and quick to pick up on subtle cues. Not only that but these dogs are also very friendly and affectionate, not only with the owners but with anyone who they perceive as friends.
They also get along quite well with other dogs and have a very strong pack mentality that makes them highly sociable around people and dogs alike. That said, bear in mind that you will need to exercise good leadership if you are to convince a Utonagan to respect your decisions in the long run.
One needs to understand that these are highly energetic dogs before getting one, so unless you are prepared to match their energy levels, then you should probably avoid getting one for the doggy’s sake. I say this because these dogs require regular exercise and lots of it.
As such, they are not suited for apartment life, nor for living in any constrained spaces where they rarely get the chance to explore. Then again, their energy levels make them perfect for families with children who play around a lot.
These dogs are rather gentle for the most part, well-balanced, and quite mellow in regard to how they interact with people and other dogs. It is for these reasons that they make such good family dogs, and also why they are so popular among experienced dog owners who have owned dogs in the past.
Their gentle nature makes them the ideal pet for children and teenagers alike, a temperament that also helps them thrive within a well-rounded family structure where each member of the family plays a specific role in the household.
Given their Husky & German Shepherd ancestry, these dogs can be trained to perform very complex tasks and get creative while doing them. Given how intelligent and people-oriented these dogs are, they are guaranteed to pick up on the owner’s body language instinctively, thus making the whole training process so much easier.
That said, keep in mind that this breed requires clear boundaries and quite a firm hand during not just the training efforts but life in general.
It is very important to understand that physical punishment does nothing but antagonize these dogs and that they respond very well to positive reinforcement and affectionate care.
Caring for a Utonagan
Due to their genetics, these dogs require a significant amount of daily exercise if they are to live a healthy life. Although not a hyperactive breed by any means, they do possess a lot more energy than other dogs their size, energy that needs to be spent on a regular basis lest they start acting up and breaking things around the house.
Not just that but behavioral problems usually follow suit, problems that may end up causing the dog to be depressive and apathetic.
As I said, these dogs like to roam a lot, so make sure that they have plenty of room to do it whenever you’re not around.
When you do take them out to exercise, try to go that extra mile to accommodate their energetic nature, either by taking a longer route when jogging or by stimulating their playtime with physically-intensive exercises.
Either way, any energy that’s left unspent may end up manifesting as bad behavior and/or health issues for the dog farther down the line.
The coat of a Utonagan doesn’t really require a lot of grooming, nowhere near as much as Huskies require on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, these dogs have to be groomed just twice a week or even less than that if you don’t have the time for it.
Bear in mind, however, that these dogs blow their coat during the spring or late summer, during which time they will require a lot more grooming than usual. Then again, this is the case with many dogs that blow their coat on a seasonal basis.
While these dogs look a lot like wolves, they have different dietary needs.
For the most part, these dogs require a well-balanced diet that needs to include meat, fats, and fiber.
In this regard, many owners prefer to rely on dry food that they supplement with ingredients to complete the dietary requirements.
If you have the possibility, feed your Utonagan a kibble based on healthy fats and plant fiber, but make sure to always feed the dog the correct portions.
If internet comments and opinions are anything to go by, I can also assume that many people feed their Utonagans a diet that involves raw food. Alternatively, they will also sometimes cook special meals for their dogs, meals that will usually contain all the essential nutrients.
One of the issues with cooked food is that it’s usually less healthy than the dog food most supermarkets sell, especially in regards to fats and meat-based ingredients.
Known Health Problems
Compared to other breeds its size, the Utonagan is quite a healthy dog when taken care of properly. These dogs will not only avoid many of the issues that plague other similarly sized dogs but will also display a much higher willingness to engage in physical activities that will end up strengthening their bodies and immune system.
That said, some of these dogs have been known to succumb to hip dysplasia, epilepsy, Addison’s disease, von Willebrand’s disease, obesity, and a variety o eye problems. I should point out that many of these problems will manifest later in the dog’s life and that there isn’t much an owner can do to avoid them.
At this point, I should also talk about how these dogs can be plagued by obesity if their exercising needs aren’t met. Given their energetic nature, these dogs must absolutely be allowed to burn out any extra calories either by playing or exercising.
Failure to do so will result in obesity and/or digestive problems that may end up causing a lot of pain for your furry friend long-term. It is advised that you talk to a vet before switching a Utonagan’s diet to make sure that it meets the dog’s lifestyle.
Buying a Utonagan
Even though these dogs aren’t difficult to acquire, they are a lot rarer than you would expect.
This is because most of the people who want a dog this size end up getting a Husky or a German Shepherd, and in some cases, even a northern Inuit dog.
How Much Does a Utonagan Cost?
The average cost for a Utonagan pup is between $600 and $800 depending on where you get it from.
Speaking of pups, the puppies grow up rather fast and can reach a weight of between 55 and 110 lbs in just a couple of months.
Quick Breed Summary Table
|Lifespan||12 to 15 years|
|Color||Grey, white, black, or a combination of the three|
|Coat||Thick overcoat with a soft undercoat|
|Shedding & Grooming||Moderate shedder that sheds twice a year|
|Temperament||Very energetic yet quite obedient|
|With Other Pets||Mellow and sociable if trained properly|
|People Skills||They are very sociable and demanding of attention|
|With Children||Great with children on account of how much they like to play|
|Exercise Needs||Constant exercising required that needs to involve a lot of running|
|Food||Diet must consist of protein, fat, probiotics, plant fiber, and fish oil|
|Known Health Problems||Obesity, hip dysplasia, and various eye problems|
All Things Considered
The Utonagan takes its name from the Chinook Indian language and can be freely translated to ‘spirit of the wolf‘.
Due to the fact that it was originally bred to resemble the looks of a wolf with little consideration for other traits, you can expect these dogs to showcase many of the characteristics that best describe Siberian Huskies, Alaskan Malamutes, and German Shepherds.
Overall, these dogs are quite strong and muscular, yet very gentle when they’re around vulnerable people or dogs.