Furry friends: Sled dog barking mad for doppelganger doll

© imgur.com
Trigger Warning: If you're the type that cried when Old Yeller got shot, these photos might melt your heart.

Deep inside every dog is a grey wolf, but centuries of mutation and breeding has softened them up, according to a new study.

Case in point: An Alaskan Malamute named Luca.

She may look like a wolf, but the North Carolina sled dog likes nothing more than hanging out with her stuffed toy doppelganger.

They've been besties ever since Luca was a young pup and still love to spoon during nap time.

Luca tore through loads of toys in her lifetime, but her furry friend is still in mint condition.

© imgur.com

“I passed the stuffed animal down to her and she has kept it by her side at all times ever since,” wrote owner Karissa Lerch online. “It’s her baby. She carries it around everywhere and always has it with her when she goes to bed. I got it from Toys R Us many years ago before I could manage a real dog. Definitely not dog durable but she is super gentle with it.”

Luca's grey wolf ancestors aren't known for being quite so gentle. 

In a new study into the origins of domesticated dogs, scientists believe they can trace the pets back 33,000 years ago to south-east Asia. 

According to the research, the idea of the trained dog began to travel outside of Asia "about 15,000 years ago to the Middle East, Africa as well as Europe. One of these out of Asia lineages then migrated back to northern China and made a series of admixtures with endemic East Asian lineages, before traveling to the Americas."