Expert Q&A

Do Tame Wolves Act Like Dogs?

BY: The Dog Daily Expert

Raymond and Lorna Coppinger delve into your question in detail in their excellent book, Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behavior and Evolution. They ask your question another way: “Do tame wolves act like dogs?” The answer turns out to be rather scary.

That’s because, as the Coppingers write, “a wolf that is unafraid of humans is more dangerous to humans than is a wild wolf. A wild wolf will flee when approached, but a ‘tamed’ one is not afraid to move in and bite.”

I can already think of friends, however, who will debate me on this point. One fellow who enjoyed spending time in nature owned a dog that is considered to be a “wolf dog,” that is, a canine hybrid resulting from the mating of a wolf and a dog. But even in that case, his pet was more dog than wolf, and he spent countless hours attempting to train it. There is the added problem that, the more wolves and dogs breed, the less distinct the already threatened wolf species becomes. If you want to help wolves, my advice is to support conservation groups that work to provide suitable habitats for them in the wild.

Also keep in mind that domestication of dogs has occurred over thousands of years. Genes tied to tameness, cooperativeness with humans, and other desirable pet qualities are likely hardwired into domesticated dogs. Taming a single wolf over its lifetime therefore holds little hope of producing a dog that is as friendly and obedient as today’s domesticated canines.

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Tags: dog behavior , dog training

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