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Are Dogs Really 99% Wolf?
We have all heard the saying 'all dogs are 99% wolf' but what exactly does this mean? Are we all sharing are lives and homes with wolves?!
Throughout history, the grey wolf has been referred to as Canis lupus whilst the domestic dog has been referred to as Canis familaris. It is only recently that research has determined that both species should be referred to under one heading; Canis lupus familaris.
It is commonly known & accepted that all domestic dogs, from Chihuahua to Labrador, are the direct results of the domestication of the grey wolf that occurred as long as 17,000 years ago. When we say '99% wolf' we are referring to the genetics of the dog. Although they are not genetically identical, a dog shares 99% of its DNA with a wolf and interbreeding between the two can and does occur.
There are also several clear physical similarities between the two; both are social animals and prefer to live life in a pack, both shows immense loyalty to pack members (be it human or animal) and the domestic dog and wolf each have a gestation period of approximately 63 days. There are also clear parallels through the body language of each animal; both show dominance and submission through the exact same process, both demonstrate fear and whilst not often seen in the domestic dog, both animals have the same hunting instincts.
Of course, there are also differences between the two animals, the most noticeably being that the domestic dog can be house trained whilst the wolf, even in hybrids, will always contain the wild in it and will technically always be a wild animal. Linked into this issue are the studies into the domestication of foxes. Studies in the Soviet Union have proved that through selective breeding over just 50 years, the silver fox has become tamer and more dog-like. One has to ask the question; if these foxes are now domesticated does this mean they are still foxes or something else? The answer is obviously no, they still remain foxes, albeit slightly more friendly. Then why exactly, are dogs referred to as dogs? We have established that the main distinctive between the grey wolf and the domestic dog is the latter's ability to be house trained but why refer to them as something different entirely? Surely, the same rule should stand as with the silver fox. The dog, as we know it, is in fact a grey wolf that can be domesticated.
Studies and opinions on this subject can differ widely; some suggest that the domestic dog is no more related to the wolf than humans are to the chimp, whilst others believe that the grey wolf and domestic dog are permanently linked with the DNA speaking for itself.
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