A wolf isn’t a dog

21 Feb

So, i figured that after making a post about how dogs and wolves are very similar, i should also make a post about how they are not the same, just to clarify that whilst dogs make great pets, wolves most certainly do not. 


Whilst wolves and dogs are the same species, and their physical appearance is very similar, it is their instincts and therefore their disposition that are very different. 


Physical differences:

When compared to their wolfy relative, dogs have smaller skulls, smaller brains and smaller teeth. The paw of a wolf is approximately double the size of the dog. The legs of a wolf are larger. Wolves have a pre-caudal gland at the base of their tail which is used to mark another wolf as a pack member through the release of a pheromone. This is something that is no longer functioning in dogs.  

Dogs and wolves have different types of movement with the dog having more variety to its gait depending on what it is doing. A wolf’s movement is more of a pace. 

Diet: Wolves need a higher calorie intake, partly due to having a larger brain. Wolves primarily feed on meat and fish whilst dogs are really more of an omnivore as they will eat pretty much anything. That being said, the main portion of their diet should consist of meat. 

Sound: It is thought that a dog’s bark was developed largely as a way of communicating with humans. They have a number of different types of barks used to convey different feelings or emotions, but they can also howl. A wolf however cannot only howl. 

Reproduction: Domestic dogs tend to become sexually mature at a much younger age to wolves. Wolves reach sexual maturity at around two or three years and then leave their pack in search of a mate. Female wolves only come into season once in a year, whilst domestic dogs usually come into heat twice a year. 

Behavioral traits: Whilst both dogs and wolves are social animals and have pack mentality  the wolves are much more social and dependent upon the functioning of their pack. Dogs are more capable of living on their own or with humans as replacement pack members. Generally wolves are much more intelligent that dogs (as mentioned before, they have larger brains). Studies have shown that wolves are more aware of their environment and better at problem solving that dogs. Dogs are much more suited to living with humans, and can be found all over the world where people live. They are much easier to train and seem to want to please humans. Wolves natural instincts are much stronger and so they are not suited to living with humans. 

Training: The domestic dog has been around humans for over 10,000 years. We have developed over 400 different breeds all with varying traits and characteristics. It is this that makes them suitable for different tasks and make them highly trainable (some breeds more than others). Wolves however, have maintained their very primitive instincts. 

Hunting ability: Whilst some breeds of domestic dog were created for hunting purposes, domestic dogs have generally lost their hunting ability. Many domestic dogs will get on perfectly well with children, cats and other small animals. Wolves however are much stronger with perfectly adapted teeth for hunting. Their instincts to hunt are strong and it is this that makes them largely un-trainable.

Wolf-dog hybrids:

More correctly known as a wolf-dog cross breed, this is when you get an animal that is half domestic dog and half wolf. The temperament of these animals can be quite unpredictable and they are often found to be quite skittish. After all they only have half of the domestic dogs easy going, people loving temperament. Training these animals require very firm, consistent training and lots of exercise and roaming space. I think if you were to do your research on these animals, the majority of sources would not recommend them as pets. You might think that you want a pet that looks like a wolf so why not get the closest thing, a cross breed, but the unpredictable nature and the difficult training would probably make them unsuitable. There are breeds out there such as the Siberian husky or Alaskan Malumute that often look very wolf like, the difference being that they are domestic dogs and have lived with humans for a long, long time. 

There are times however when these types of animals do become an appropriate part of human life. They often become movie stars or models. These crossbreeds are often trained and used by experts in the movie business where a wolf is needed, but is not suitable. 


If you would like to know more, there is plenty of information out there and often documentaries and tv programs. If you have any questions that you would like me to answer, give me a shout and i will do my best to answer them. 





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