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Article: Wolf vs. Dog - What's the Real Reason They're So Different?

Wolf vs. Dog - What's the Real Reason They're So Different?

Wolf vs. Dog - What's the Real Reason They're So Different?

It's not just their penetrating golden eyes, there are a few interesting reasons why a wolf in the wild is different that you furry best friend.

Determining differences between wolves and dogs can start with what we mean when we refer to the animal as ‘dogs’ because wolves actually are dogs, insomuch as they, along with your domesticated pet, belong to the canid family of fur creatures just like jackals and coyotes. If we're discussing what we all think of as our household trusted buddy, which are also canids, then we can say with confidence case that a dog is a wolf, because it is from wolves over centuries that dogs were domesticated to be what we now know as 'a dog.'

The wolf geniuses at the Yellowstone Wolf Project, biologists and people who know 'all things wolf' thought that dogs were domesticated from the familiar grey wolf that still prowls the wilder regions of Europe, Asia and North America. However recently genetic studies say that they are descended from another wolf lineage that is now extinct. Interestingly too, domesticated dogs and grey wolves are named as if they are different species – Canis familiaris and Canis lupus, respectively. 

The wolf, one of our Northern US most important predators, roamed the landscape and influenced the ecosystem for thousands of years. By the late 1920s, wolves were eradicated from all national parks in an effort by the U.S. government to tame the wilderness. Fast forward to the 1990s, with the loss of the wolf, national parks were missing a keystone species that altered the structure and function of the entire ecosystem. The planet needs wolves! OK, back to the wolf-dog comparisons...

Any biologists or your neighborhood vet can say wolves and domestic dogs are very similar genetically. This is despite the rather large gap between dog breeds in terms of size, their coat and coloring, head and facial features and their individual body proportions. Huskies and German shepherds are definitely wolf-like, but we can't really make the connection when it comes to say, pugs, a terrier or a St. Bernard. Wolves though are distinctly more uniform in their appearance.

According to BBC Wildlife, almost all of the genes responsible for this variation in modern dog breeds were already present in the ancestral wolf population. Domestication probably occurred somewhere between 15,000 and 40,000 years ago. This is a mere blink of an eye in evolutionary terms – not enough time for the line to accumulate many novel genetic mutations of its own. Instead, the differences are due to humans’ efforts to selectively breed for particular tasks, whether it’s herding sheep or looking pretty. And, compared to wolves, domestic dogs are less fearful, anxious or aggressive. This is attributed to early stages of domestication, when only the least jumpy wolves would have dared to approach humans until it became a matter of life or death when food sources because so scarce the wolf had to venture into human territory for survival. Our domestic, well cared for pooches? Experts day because foraging is an instinct for dogs, their brains are actually wired to enjoy it. That's what would keep them motivated to continue searching for food in tough conditions or when food has been hard to find - no real need to be jumpy when your dish is full at least once a day without fail. 

Seems to us that domesticated dogs have a great deal in common with the wolf and when it comes to their diet, feeding them food in the purest, most natural way gives our pets not only the raw nutrition so instinctual to their ancestry, but a little boost in their intuitive, wolf-like ways would be a good thing for their wellbeing all around. 

For more raw nutrition updates be sure to follow Ancestral Raw Nutrition on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube. 

Until next time, remember... let them run wild!

 

 

 

 

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