Face masking, Coloration, and general appearance

Three different wolves

WOLVES: Wolves come in a range of colors, and depending on the color, may or may not display a facial mask. Animals that are white or black may have little to no masking compared to grizzled and gray animals. On those wolves who have them (see above—center and left photo), masks will consist of several different banded colors and be well blended instead of being defined and sharply contrasting like the black and white masks found on some dogs. Wolves will have full masks and will not have facial markings such as open face masks, blazes or splashes. Wolves also have distinct cheek ruffs, tufts of longer hair coming off the sides of their face. The hair should not be wavy or curly, but thick and flowing out from the face. This is partly due to the large shape and overall structure of the head.

Coats of a variety of dogs

DOGS: Dogs come in a wide variety of coat colors and patterns, ranging in color from solid black to red brindle, blue ticking or a splash coat (asymmetrical markings). The markings and coat patterns on dogs are often very contrasting and crisp, especially on their face.

Alaskan MalamuteWhite blaze running up the forehead on an Alaskan malamute mix

Facial markings seen on many northern breed dogs and German shepherds are fairly contrasting and sharp with little to no blending. Most dogs also lack significant cheek ruffs.