Our dogs are genetically related to wolves. Books and movies have picked up the idea of domestic dogs that successfully joined a pack of wolves to live among them. But Hollywood does not always check out in the real world – many misconceptions revolve around dogs and their relatives. In this article, we will investigate if domestic dogs can live with wolves.
Answered: Can A Dog Join A Wolf Pack?
No, a dog cannot join a wolf pack. There are many for this, the most prominent reasons the genetical difference. Domestic dogs have the genetic condition of being bred differently, degrading traits of surviving in the wild. Wolves are highly territorial animals and would fatally injure your dog if he ever were trying to join them. Although crossbreeds rarely happen, it is most often dangerous for any dog to approach a wolf.
Jack London once wrote a novel in which a domestic dog follows the call of the wild and finds his way back to the roots – a wolf pack. A wolf pack refers to a group of wolf individuals that can grow together and resemble a family. Often, wolves hunt together in a pack. Wolves are highly territorial and would not tolerate anyone they are threatened by who is not part of their pack. Wolves even attack other exemplars of their own species with whom they are not related. This means that your dog would not stand a chance in a possible fight, let alone against an individual wolf.
Wolves Are Not Dogs
Wolves have established their own sophisticated communication styles and rituals. Generally, dogs and wolves communicate through vocalization, body language, and scent. Dog sounds is derived from wolf vocalization. Wolves have a different body language from that of a dog. Even wolf-dog breeds highly differ from their canine ancestors. The reason for this lies in thousands of years in captivity and artificial selection of dogs that are more likeable or more aesthetically pleasing for humans. While both dog and wolf share a similar behavior regarding scent, they have different meanings.
Many forms of dog and wolf communication still seem familiar. Your pup’s body language comes to light when he interacts with other dogs. For example, a submissive dog would lay on the ground and roll over presenting his stomach to the dominant dog in the hierarchy. This behavior is often observed during play. Or, consider a situation in which your dog knows he has done something wrong. He will adopt a crouched posture, signalling lower dominance.
Signals in dog and wolf communication are similar as well. A greeting, a growl, or a submissive gesture is well understood between both canines. While we may see many similarities in dogs and wolves from our perspectives, our furry friends will comprehend them too – with a high chance of misunderstanding.
Dogs and wolves bark – however, wolves tend to stop barking when they reach maturity, indicating that dogs remain immature. It is as if your dog, even when fully grown, would communicate in a rather infantile way compared to a wolf. Wolves are known to be highly sovereign, intelligent, and social. They live in family units and need to communicate a lot for cooperation, coordination, and maintenance of social status in a pack.
Dogs And Wolves Are Familiar, Yet Foreign
Domestic dogs have lost their ability of self-direction. They even have been bred to be dependent on us and to be aesthetically likeable. Depending on the breed, dogs do not often think for themselves and, in a way, remain infantile throughout their lives. This is definitely desirable for a domesticated animal. We can teach dogs not to destroy the furniture, and they will obey.
Wolves show more signs of intensity and self-autonomy, in which they would care for their own good and that of their pack. Although our dogs love us because we give them the security they need, they also see us as a means to an end. Dogs have learnt through conditioning and repetition that by exerting a certain behavior, they are able to elicit a certain response that gives them what they need. In comparison, a self-determined and independent wolf would not show this behavior. He would rather take matters into his own paws.
If you recall the fact that both dogs and wolves are territorial, you may notice that both use their glands to leave scent markers. For dogs, those markers are recognized by other dogs as a notice that they have been inside a specific territory. For wolves, this behavior is similar, yet more intense. A wolf would only leave his scent marker to send a warning to possible territorial intruders, and attack if the intruder trespasses.
It is often said that dogs form pacts, too. If your pooch has a chance to socialize with other dogs, you might have noticed how your dog behaves in such a situation and might arrive at the conclusion that dogs interact just like a wolf pack. However, there are differences. Wolves can severely injure each other in fights around hierarchy questions.
Since domestic dogs are bred to be likeable by humans, they show less intense behavior in fights and will act more lenient in an argument with other dogs, also because humans would highly discourage that behavior and are able to control dog behavior using leashes on their harnesses and collars to some extent. Hence, the way domestic dogs interact with one another is fundamentally different from social rules in a wolf pack.
Are Wolves Friendly With Dogs?
Wolf packs have a complex societal structure, and wolf individuals do have different characters. While it cannot be ruled out that a wolf would not harm a dog, you need to consider that wolves are wild animals after all that know how to survive out there. They are predators and need to eat as well at the end of the day. Accordingly, a domestic dog may just be an addition to the menu.
Generally, wolves try to avoid dogs as much as dogs try to avoid wolves. For a wolf, discovering a dog in the wild means that danger is imminent, since dogs are often in immediate proximity to humans. Wolves have learnt that encountering humans often creates dangerous situations, since hunters may trespass wolf territory but have the technological advantage in defending themselves.
On the contrary, there are reports that lone wolves have been trusting, befriending dogs and humans, which shows a strategy of adaptation and survival. A lone wolf would possibly interact with your dog and not injure it at first sight.
If You Raise A Wolf From Birth Will It Attack You?
It is possible to raise wolf pups in society and make them learn a sociable contacts with humans and other dogs provided steady access to resources a wolf needs. A new study has shown that wolf pups raised by humans get used to their masters in a way reminiscent of dogs. However they still have innate behavior which will make them very different from dogs. While dogs have been bred for thousands of years to be around humans, wolves have not. Hence, wolves would always choose to be around wolves since they do not have a history of being captivated and tamed.
Interestingly though, domestic dogs would likely accept a wolf pup way more than the other way around. A wolf being raised in captivity and being released into the wild may find a pack. However, due to his deteriorated skills that he never learnt, he may only have a low status in the pack (the omega wolf).
Some breeds will look very different when compared to the visuals of a wolf. The first impression of a dog’s body proportions can be a determining factor in assessing the threat level of a dog from wolf’s perspective. While a Chihuahua should never come close to a wolf, there might be higher chances of introducing a Malamute or a Husky to a wolf. But even if your dog is a guard dog, it remains dangerous to get in contact with wolves. Yet, it is important to consider that wolves are often taller, stronger, and more aggressive than domestic dogs. Hence, a dog would likely exhibit a low status, or that of prey, and should never be introduced voluntarily to a wolf.
Can A Wolf And A Dog Breed Together?
Yes, a wolf and a dog can breed together since they are both canines and genetically related. While this virtually never happens, there have been reports that lone female wolves bred with dogs since they could not find a male wolf to pass on their genes. Offspring of dogs and wolves is called wolf hybrids.
For sure it may sound exciting to actually have a part of a wolf in your dog, but upcoming challenges will be high. Wolves have no experience of living with dogs and are not adapted to our environment. Since they are also very territorial, they will consider their environment as area that needs to be marked and protected. Hence, a wolf hybrid would likely destroy furniture, and may behave unpredictably.
Can A Dog Be Part Wolf?
While they are dog-wolf hybrids, you will likely not find many in private ownership. Although some breeds resemble wolves a lot, they are not part wolf. Huskies are not wolf hybrids. Wolf hybrids are known to be a challenge to handle as they grow up, since their behavior differs from domestic dogs.
They higher the wolf proportion in a hybrid, the more difficult it gets of keeping them as a house pet. Oftentimes, people do not understand the needs a hybrid may have. Since wolves are known to be shy, and dogs are more animated and tend to get irritated and aggressive faster, hybrid behavior can be hard to predict, imposing further challenges on their owner.
Dogs are very likely not able to join a wolf pack since wolves are predators that form social bonds and would dogs as natural enemies. While domestic dogs have been designed over millennia to become our partners, wolves do not share this habituation. While both dog and wolf would understand each other, wolves would still see your pup as meal. There are hybrids in which dogs are part wolf, but your domestic dog is not a close descendant of a wolf, and will not be able to join a wolf pack.
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