Dogs and Wolves: More Different Than They are Alike?
It is arguably one of modern pet marketing’s most reliable angle: put a picture of a wolf on about anything designed for the canine species and it is a hit. But how much does your Pomeranian really have in common with Canis lupus? Join Schertz Animal Hospital as we explore the differences and similarities between dogs and wolves.
Similarities Between Dogs and Wolves
Dogs and wolves have many outward similarities. After all, the two species descend from a common ancestor. In fact the two species share 98.8% of the same DNA. They can even interbreed (although their offspring are typically not fertile).
Dogs of similar size to a wolf share a similar life expectancy (12-14 years in captivity). They both display similar body language at times and share an impeccable sense of smell. Both species also thrive within a pack environment and exhibit a prey drive.
When you start to really dig, though, there are no bones about it: dogs and wolves may be more different than they are the same.
But There are Some Big Differences
Despite how similar dogs and wolves may appear at first glance, though, there are many major differences between the two species. Even though they share ancestry, dogs have spent hundreds of years evolving with humans, unlike their wolf brethren. Some of the major differences between the two animals include:
- Dogs are domesticated, meaning they live and depend on humans
- Dogs maintain many puppy-like traits throughout life that humans have selected for inadvertently and intentionally such as floppy ears, shorter noses, and goofy dispositions
- Dogs are less fearful and more playful than their wolf cousins
- Wolves have yellow eyes, whereas dogs more commonly have brown or blue eyes
- Wolves are built to run with narrow chests and long legs, whereas the domestic dog tends to be wider and stockier
- Dogs tend to be less mentally mature than a wolf of similar age
- A wolf howls whereas dogs tend to bark or “yip”
- Wolves tend to be shy as opposed to their boisterous counterparts
- Female wolves have one cycle per year whereas intact female dogs have two
- Dogs observe and respond to human facial expressions and body language
- Wolves form stronger family units within their pack, while dogs tend to form a stronger relationship with people
- Dogs reach maturity at 6-8 months of age whereas wolves do not mature until 2-3 years old
- Dogs have a higher ability to digest a wide variety of food, including grains
The more you explore the differences between the two species, the more it becomes apparent that they are really not the same thing at all. We have bred our household dogs to suit our needs and lifestyles, and it is important to remember that they need us as well. Wolves may not “need” dental care, parasite prevention, or vaccines, but your dog is not a wolf. We are happy to help you with your canine companion. We couldn’t imagine life without our furry, albeit domesticated, friends.
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Schertz Animal Hospital
Since 1976, Schertz Animal Hospital has offered the greater San Antonio area outstanding pet care. Our state-of-the-art animal hospital in Schertz, TX compliments our stress-free handling and experienced veterinary staff. Make an appointment online or give us a call at (210) 659-0345 today!