Big-hearted construction workers in Estonia rushed to rescue what they thought was a dog trapped in ice – only to discover it was a wild wolf.

The men were working on a dam on the Parnu River when they spotted the animal in the icy water.

According to local reports, the workers cleared a path through the ice for the canine, which was still able to swim.

The freezing animal was wrapped in a blanket and put in one of the men’s cars to be taken to a vet, who told them they had been carrying a wolf.

Speaking to the Estonian newspaper Postimees, one of the men, Rando Kartsepp, said: "We had to carry him over the slope. He weighed a fair bit."

"He was calm, slept on my legs. When I wanted to stretch them, he raised his head for a moment."

The wolf had been suffering from severe hypothermia but recovered well.

Vets kept the wolf in a cage in case he became less docile.

Identified as a juvenile male around a year old, the young wolf was released back into the wild with a GPS collar fitted by researchers from the national environmental agency.