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'Wolf-hybrid' seen in Duchesne actually pet German shepherd

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Posted at 12:41 PM, Jan 14, 2022

DUCHESNE, Utah — A "wolf-hybrid" allegedly seen in Duchesne last week was actually a pet German shepherd dog, state wildlife officials said.

In a release Friday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said its biologists had received a report on Jan. 5 claiming a possible dead wolf sighting on the side of Highway 40 near a gas station.

After collecting the carcass, it was learned that a Duchesne resident had witnessed his black German shepherd being hit and killed by a vehicle in the same location. Due to the size of the dog, its elderly owner was unable to move it from the roadway, leading to the alleged sighting.

While the dog was roughly 4 feet long, most wolves are typically 5-6 feet long, according to the DWR.

“Wolf sightings are commonly reported, but upon further investigation, most of them have turned out to be coyotes or domestic dogs,” said Kimberly Hersey with the DWR.

Since 2002, there have been only approximately 20 confirmed wolf sightings in Utah. DWR oversees the management of wolves in Utah and encourages people to report sightings.

Wolves are often distinguished from dogs by these characteristics:

  • Adult wolves are larger than nearly all dog breeds. They can weigh from 125 to 145 pounds, and adult males vary from 5 to 6.5 feet from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.

  • Wolves are designed for running and trotting. Their chests are narrow and keel-like, and their forelimbs are pressed into the chest, with elbows turned inward and paws turned slightly outward. 

  • Wolf legs appear to be long, and their feet appear to be big. 

  • The color of wolves can vary and can include white to cream, buff, tawny, reddish, gray or black.The underside of the wolf’s ears, legs and muzzle are often tawny. The tail of the wolf generally hangs and has a precaudal gland (appears as a spot of darker hair on the dorsal side of the tail near its base), whereas the dog’s tail is usually held high, is often curled and does not have a precaudal gland.  

  • The muzzle of most dogs is shorter than that of the wolf, and wolves have a distinct face with wide tufts of hair that project down and outward from below their ears.