Dogs Versus Wolves
Same species, but there are important differences!
While dogs and wolves belong to the same species, there are some important changes when it comes to dogs versus wolves.
Test your knowledge below!
Dog vs Wolves: The Canis Lupus
The Classifications of the Modern Dog
Both dogs and wolves belong to the scientific classification known as “Canis Lupus” and share 98.8% of the same DNA.
This Latin term breaks down into the:
· Genus (or biological classification marked by common characteristics) of “Canis” (Latin for “dog”); and
· Species of “Lupus” (Latin for “wolf”) which includes dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals.
While both share the same wild ancestry, evidence shows the domestic dog descended from the gray wolf approximately 130,000 years ago. (In 1997,
DNA analysis contradicted the belief that dogs were wild until just 12,000 years.) They eventually became known as today’s domesticated dog or Canis familiaris, a subspecies of Canis Lupus during their evolution and domestication.
According to PetMD.com, “the Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Huskey and others …. are more closely related to the wolf.”
So then, are dogs and wolves more different or more alike?
Canis vs Lupus: The Similarities
Descending from a common ancestor has given both dogs and wolves many of the same physical characteristics. These similarities include:
· A similar life expectancy (when similar in size in captivity).
· Similar body language.
· An acute sense of smell.
· Thriving within a pack structure.
· Exhibiting a similar prey drive.
K9 vs Wolf: The Differences
Despite their shared physical characteristics, there are some very real differences between our domesticated dogs and wild wolves. From the wild, gray wolf to our modern, domesticated dog, differences developed out of their association and adaptation to humans and society.
Not only did their behavior evolve to fit our needs and lifestyles, but today’s modern dog also differs from their wild ancestors
· A shorter muzzle.
· Smaller teeth, skull and jaw.
· Smaller paws.
· Wider chest and stockier body.
· Brown or blue eyes (versus yellow eyes in wolves).
· Barking or yipping instead of howling.
· Many puppy-like traits including floppy ears and happy dispositions!
The dominant catalyst between dogs and wolves involved their domestication to become completely dependent upon their humans for their needs and survival.
This has led the modern dog to:
· Observe and respond to our facial expressions, cues, and body language.
· Form stronger relationships with their humans.
· Be less fearful – and more playful – than their wild ancestors.
· Be weaker problem solvers (probably due to their easy life with us!).
· Be less mature than a wolf of the same age.
· Be able to digest a wider variety of foods since they are reliant on humans to provide their meals.
Please Leave the Wolf in the Wild
Oftentimes, uninformed people want to adopt a wolf. Please do not.
While our domesticated dogs complement our life, this only happened after
thousands of years of adaptation and evolution to be the incredible companions they are today!
Wolves are still wild creatures and do not have the natural capacity to conform to our life and society or even form deep attachments to humans. While a wolf puppy may make a good companion for about six months, once they reach sexual maturity, they become difficult to handle with potentially dangerous results. Resist any temptation to adopt a wolf or wolf-dog. Leave them in the wild where nature intended them to thrive.
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