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Can We Compare Dogs To Wolves

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Dr. James C. Ha, Ph.D., CAAB is a professor of applied animal behavior at the University of WA and a certified applied animal behavior with over 30 years of experience in animal behavior teaching, research, consulting, and expert witness services.

Can we compare dogs to wolves?

Dogs are closely related to wolves. We can learn a lot about our dogs by looking at wolves and studying wolf behavior. But we can’t over interpret that. We have to be careful because dogs are not the same as wolves. They are different species. The idea is to learn what we can about the similarities in our dogs but not to over-interpret that in action.

Did the domestic dog evolve from wolves?

Most domestic dogs are more closely related to ancient wolves than modern wolves. “It’s these ancient wolf populations, now extinct, probably residing in Europe, that are the direct ancestors of domestic dogs,” says Robert Wayne, a biologist at the University of California, Los Angeles. A recent research done by Robert Wayne showed that the DNA points to the dogs having descended from an unknown wolf-like ancestor. The belief is that dogs and wolves have a common ancestor not that dogs evolved from wolves.

While wolves and dogs share some similarities, they are very different. Their bodies are built different, wolves are much larger and made for hunting, dogs not so much.  Dogs are omnivores and wolves are primary carnivores. Dominance theories that apply to wolves don’t apply to dogs. While we can learn about dogs from studying wolves it is important to keep in mind they are two different species.