Facts about the animal kingdom

Differences Between Wolves and Dogs

Josie F. Turner
By Josie F. Turner, Journalist specialized in Animal Welfare. July 31, 2017
Differences Between Wolves and Dogs

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A dog is considered a human's best friend, a big contrast to the perception we have of the wolf. Although they have an ancestor in common, there are some noticeable and important differences. Obviously, there are fewer differences if we compare Nordic dogs or hybrid breeds. However, the line between wolf and dog is quite well defined.

Would you like to know more about the differences between wolves and dogs? Then this AnimalWised article will be very useful for you - keep reading!

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  1. The same species, with obvious differences
  2. Anatomical differences between dogs and wolves
  3. Differences in diet
  4. Differences in behavior
  5. Let's look at the differences...

The same species, with obvious differences

Did you know that both wolves and dogs belong to the same zoological species? This is the species Canis lupus, to which belong all wolves and the domestic dog belong. Their subspecies is Canis Lupus familiaris.

The Canis lupus species is formed by many different types of wolves, such as:

  • Eurasian Wolf ( Canis lupus lupus )
  • Iberian wolf ( Canis lupus signatus )
  • Russian wolf ( Canis lupus comunnis )

Although the species is the same, this more detailed classification into subspecies makes it very clear that there is a wide gap between the domestic dog and all wolves currently in existence. This is mainly due to the process of domestication that gave rise to dogs. This not only becomes evident in the behavior of both animals but has marked important physiological and anatomical differences.

Anatomical differences between dogs and wolves

The long time that separates dogs and wolves has made the majority of canine breeds present a different appearance than the wolf:

  • Larger diversity of sizes: the size of a wolf may vary very little from one individual to another, but one canine breed with respect to another can make a big difference in this respect.
  • Muzzle: many canine breeds have a short snout, although the bite may be more powerful in these cases, these dogs have been mostly selected for aesthetic reasons. Wolves always have an elongated snout.
  • Ears: Some canine breeds may have drooping or hanging ears; however, all wolves have ears erect when they are adults, since wolf cubs are not yet erect.
  • Fur: The wolf has a coat that is shorter than that of the dog and has a very limited color variety.
Differences Between Wolves and Dogs - Anatomical differences between dogs and wolves

Differences in diet

Both the wolf and the dog are clearly carnivorous, however, due to domestication and the varied diet of many dogs, there have been small changes in the physiology or functioning of the digestive system.

Due to the inclusion of carbohydrates in the dog's diet, they can digest the starch. Whereas wolves could not adequately absorb the nutrients that provide numerous dog-friendly foods.

Differences in behavior

The behavior of the wolf and the dog also has important differences between which we can emphasize the following ones:

  • Socialization: dogs have a sociable nature and enjoy contact with other pets and a good human family. Wolves are more territorial and are wary of situations they do not know or may consider dangerous, such as the presence of humans.
  • Barking: wolves do not bark but growl or howl at the moon.
  • Family bonds: although both animals move in a herd, the wolves maintain a very complex social structure. In addition, a herd will establish a reproductive pair of wolves, which will not split until a member of the pair dies or disappears.
  • Behavior in the wild: Wolves are self-sufficient in nature and must further develop their predatory instinct. Also, they do not reproduce in times of food shortages. The dog, on the other hand, has become accustomed to a domestic environment.
Differences Between Wolves and Dogs - Differences in behavior

Let's look at the differences...

The population of wolves is becoming smaller and this is directly related to the presence of humans. Although in some areas they are classed as a protected species, in others they are hunted and used for crossing with dogs.

It is important to be aware of this in order to avoid the wolf being considered an endangered animal. Thus, we can enjoy the differences between dogs and wolves, seeing the latter run free and live in their natural habitat.

Differences Between Wolves and Dogs - Let's look at the differences...

If you want to read similar articles to Differences Between Wolves and Dogs, we recommend you visit our Facts about the animal kingdom category.

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Differences Between Wolves and Dogs