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Utonagan: Complete Guide, Info, Pictures, Care & More!

Utonagan playing with a ball

Height: 23 – 30 inches
Weight: 55 – 110 pounds
Lifespan: 12 – 15 years
Colors: Apricot, black, buff, grey, grizzle, tan, white
Suitable for: Active families, dog sports, therapy and service dog work, homes with fenced yards, cold climates
Temperament: Gentle, alert, intelligent, friendly, energetic

Many people love the idea of wolfdogs but aren’t capable of handling the stubborn hybrids, not to mention they are illegal to own in many areas. The Utonagan is a lovely wolfdog alternative, though. This dog breed was originally bred to take on the appearance of a wolf or wolf hybrid, but without any wolf DNA. These wolf-like dogs are far easier to handle than a wolfdog and tend to be more trainable and personable. The Utonagan is still a developing breed, but they are prized for their gentle nature, wild appearance, and intelligence. There really aren’t many things not to love about the beautiful Utonagan.

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Utonagan Puppies–Before You Get One


3 Little-Known Facts About Utonagan

1. The Utonagan’s ancestors are somewhat unknown.

The first Utonagans begun being bred in the 1980s, and there are three known dog breeds in the Utonagan bloodline: the German Shepherd, Alaskan Malamute, and Siberian Husky. However, these dogs were added into the bloodline after the breed was already being established. The original five dogs to be bred into the Utonagan line were mixed breed dogs of completely unknown breed origins. The only thing known about these dogs is that is that they were all wolf-like in appearance to some degree. The three known breeds were then bred into the lines started by the five original dogs to further create the type appearance of the Utonagan.

2. The Utonagan has a closely related cousin breed.

When the Utonagan was first developed, it was being marketed as a wolfdog. However, this marketing proved to be unsuccessful, likely due to the legal issues surrounding wolfdogs and the behavioral difficulties the hybrids can pose. The developer of the Utonagan, Edwina Harrison, then began marketing them as a new breed known as the Northern Inuit. As the Northern Inuit continued to be bred, some breeders began calling their dogs by the Utonagan name, so it was at this point that the Utonagan and Northern Inuit breeds diverged and began developing as two individual breeds.

3. The origin country of the first Utonagans may surprise you.

The five original dogs that formed the first Utonagans were American dogs, which makes perfect sense. After all, the Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamute are American breeds that were bred into early Utonagans to enhance their wolf-like appearance. However, the original five dogs were actually shipped over to the UK. That is where the initial breeding program for the Utonagan and Northern Inuit breeds began, even though the dogs themselves were American. It only makes sense that marketing these dogs as wolfdogs wasn’t successful since the UK has required special licenses to own wolfdogs that are less than three generations away from their parent wolf since 1976.


Temperament & Intelligence of the Utonagan

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

The Utonagan is considered to be a great family dog that is known for its love of children. Wolf-like appearance aside, the Utonagan is a domestic dog, through and through. They form close bonds with their family, including children, and are known to be quite warm toward people in general. This means that they can be a good pet in a home where guests are frequent, or people are regularly coming and going. That isn’t to say they aren’t without their issues, though, and the Utonagan can become quite a dominant dog if not properly trained and taught boundaries.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

With proper socialization and introductions, the Utonagan is likely to get along with other pets. Their gentle but playful nature can make them a great companion to other dogs. Care should be taken when allowing your Utonagan around small animals, though. They are descended from breeds with high energy levels and high prey drives, which may lead to them injuring small animals, like cats, rodents, and reptiles.


Things to Know When Owning a Utonagan:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

This breed is prone to obesity and overeating, especially when they are not being kept active and entertained. A high-quality diet with proper meal portioning is necessary to maintaining a healthy weight for your Utonagan. A diet rich in omega fatty acids can help support coat and skin health, which is important for a double-coated breed like the Utonagan. Omega fatty acids can be supplemented into the diet multiple ways since these fatty acids can be sourced from plant sources, like hemp and flax, and animal sources, like salmon, tuna, herring, and oysters.

Exercise 🐕

The Utonagan is a high energy dog that will let you know if it’s not being exercised enough. Daily exercise is basically a requirement for the Utonagan, although brain games, puzzles, and indoor play can replace exercise in a pinch. Set aside at least an hour every day to exercise your Utonagan. A walk once or twice daily is a good idea, but it’s not all the exercise needs these dogs have. Getting your Utonagan involved in a dog sport can really help to burn excess energy, keep your dog healthy, and give your dog something to look forward to. Bikejoring, skijoring, cani-cross, and agility are all great sports that won’t just burn your dog’s energy, but also build a trusting relationship between the two of you.

Training 🎾

This is a breed that is highly intelligent but prone to dominance, so balanced training techniques tend to be best for them. It’s important to set boundaries and start training when your Utonagan is still very young, as well as ensuring the entire household is committed to sticking to the rules and training. This breed is intelligent enough to work around boundaries if someone in the household isn’t keeping with the training program. Plenty of exercise will help you have the most success with training your Utonagan. A bored Utonagan with lots of pent-up energy will be more difficult to keep focused for training.

Grooming ✂️

Keeping up with the grooming needs of this double-coated breed isn’t for the faint of heart. Considering their lineage of double-coated dogs that are known for heavy shedding, the Utonagan is not any different. Daily brushing is important, regardless of what type of climate you live in or what time of year it is. These dogs can develop mats, tangles, and skin infections if their coat care is not kept up. No matter how much brushing you do, you should expect to still need to sweep and vacuum on a nearly daily basis to keep dog hair tumbleweeds from taking over your home.

A visit to a groomer on a regular basis will keep your dog’s coat healthier than many people can accomplish on their own at home. Keep in mind, though, that shaving a Utonagan should be a last resort. For double-coated dogs, their coat keeps them insulated. This means that, although their coat may look hot when it’s warm outside, it is keeping them cooler than they might be without it. That isn’t to say that these dogs are hardy to extreme heat, though.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Minor Conditions
  • Cataracts
  • Cryptorchid Testicles
  • Skin Infections
Serious Conditions
  • Bloat
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Obesity
  • Addison’s Disease
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Perianal Fistula
  • Kidney Disease
  • Congenital Heart Defects


Male vs Female

Your male Utonagan is more likely to be more loving, friendly, and outgoing than a female is likely to be. Males tend to be known as Velcro dogs moreso than females are. Females may be more likely to be aloof and independent, but they will still be loyal companions. Females are more likely than males to be protective of the home and family, although this breed is overall not considered a protection breed or guard dog.

Related Read: Tamaskan Dog

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Final Thoughts

The Utonagan is a beautiful dog that has lots of fantastic qualities, but they do have their downsides, too. Some people report that they find Utonagans to be more prone to poor health than many other breeds. This has a lot to do with the earliest Utonagans and their parents having health issues that became permanently bred into the breed. That is compounded by the small breeding pool for the Utonagan, which doesn’t have a large amount of genetic diversity. Responsible breeders are working to enhance the genetic diversity in the Utonagan by reintroducing German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, and Siberian Huskies into the breed.

This is a great family dog that is often considered to be a suitable candidate for work as a therapy dog in hospitals and nursing homes, as well as service dog work. A family that is steadfast in a training regimen and boundaries within the home will have the most success in training an obedient and happy Utonagan.

You might also be interested in: Chinook

Featured Image Credit: Binson Calfort, Shutterstock

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