August 14, 2020
Wait, is my dog a wolf?
The short answer is: No, your dog is not a wolf. Article done! Just kidding-although your dog is not a wolf, they do share 99% of the same genes. Rover-Time hopes that learning about the differences and similarities between dogs and wolves can help you understand your furry friend better.
How do I know my dog isn’t a wolf?
If dogs and wolves share so much DNA, what is the difference between my dog and a wolf?
- To state the obvious: Wolves are wild and dogs are domesticated
- BARK! Dogs bark and barking is a learned trait. Although wolves have a variety of noises they make, barking isn’t one of them.
- YUM! Dogs eat in front of humans. That is a level of trust that a wolf doesn’t have.
- Looks! Modern dogs have smaller brains and heads than wolves because dogs don’t need to think or plan as much for their needs to be met. Dogs even evolved more expressive faces to communicate with their humans.
- Dogs can be tamed and trained. We wouldn’t recommend trying to train a wolf in the wild.
- Bonding. Dogs are able to bond with humans, other dogs, and even other kinds of animals. Is anything cuter than watching a dog and cat cuddle?
- Wolves pair bond and form packs. People often describe dogs as pack animals, but the reality is that they don’t form packs or have monogamous relationships the way that their wolf cousins do.
- Playtime! Dogs, unlike wolves, like to play. Dogs don’t have to spend the majority of their time worrying about resources so they keep their playfulness throughout their whole life, making them awesome companions for us.
How did wolves turn into dogs?
When you look at a little Pomeranian, it seems impossible that their closest ancestors are grey wolves. How did the wild wolf get domesticated and turn into our best friends and snuggle buddies? One theory is that humans captured wolf cubs to raise them as their own. Although the idea of owning a wolf cub is adorable, it doesn’t seem that plausible since wolf cubs would need to be handled by humans by the time they were 14 days old in order to be domesticated. A more likely explanation is that as humans built-up villages, they created garbage that would attract wolves. The wolves that were less scared of humans would tend to get the best garbage, and wolves adapted to become more and more dependent on, and less scared of, humans. Thereby slowly, over thousands of years, evolving into the dog companions we know and love.
Ok, my dog isn’t a wolf
But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t traits that remain in dogs from their wolf ancestors. All dogs follow natural canine predatory behavior patterns. This means that dogs follow a pattern of behavior that is genetically determined. Watch any group of dogs interact with each other and you will see them following this predetermined pattern.
Your dog might not be a fierce wolf, but it’s good to know about where some of their inherited behaviors come from. And you can always use this information to spend some time howling at the moon with your furry friend!
Zoe Sjogerman is the North-East manager for Rover-Time and has been part of the RT team for four years. When she isn’t walking dogs she is the executive director of Avalanche Theatre and an avid book reader. She lives in the north-side of Chicago with her fiance. Although she doesn’t have a pet of her own, she loves getting to walk pups all over the Chicagoland area.