Your Dog is NOT a Wolf

Thanks to Eof Dreams for the Photo

I hate to break it to you, but your dog is not a wolf.  That’s right you read it correctly he is NOT a wolf.

I know this is going to ruffle some feathers and raise some hackles, but it is true.

It seems this whole dog/wolf debacle is drilled into us as children and we just muddle through life believing our pet Maltese is just like a wolf.

I hear it all the time.  He needs an alpha roll, that is what a wolf would do.

Or, wolves thrive on raw diets, my dog is an ancestor of the wolf.

To me this sounds as ridiculous as; well, the chimpanzees at the zoo act or eat this way so I must too because, after all, we are descendants of the great apes right?

If a chimp raises her baby that way, so should I.

Or if a chimp eats that so should I.

What happened to the Millions of Years of Evolution?

I get that the great apes comparison sounds preposterous but isn’t it the same as saying this about wolves and dogs?

Sure, some of us have dogs that look more like wolves (some are mixed with wolf but I won’t get into that here) and some like the Greyhound or Chihuahua look nothing like wolves.

The truth is what we have living in our homes (no matter the breed except wolf hybrids) have been domesticated for tens of thousands of years.

They have also been selectively bred.  We increase and decrease size, and fur, and other attributes.

DNA Proof and Studies

I Love Wolves because of Their Similarities to Dogs, but They Aren't Dogs. Thanks en.wikepedia for the Photo

I Love Wolves because of Their Similarities to Dogs, but They Aren’t Dogs.
Thanks en.wikepedia for the Photo

And, domestication in and of itself changes the outward features of the wild dogs that were kept as helpers and pets.

I say wild dogs because there has been some evidence that some dogs did not in fact evolve from wolves or were not domesticated from wolves.

A study published in PLoS Genetics found that dogs are more closely related to each other than to wolves regardless of their geographic origin.  The genetic overlap between wolves and dogs is likely due to interbreeding after domestication.

The common ancestor, they have found, between dogs and wolves was a large wolf like animal that lived between 9,000 and 34,000 years ago says Robert Wayne who was the co-author of the study.

Now before you go denying this article you should know it is based totally scientifically on DNA evidence.  DNA has proven the domestication and the likelihood that dogs have evolved from what was not a single event but several events (from possibly several dog like or wolf like canines that are now extinct).

I find this fascinating!  And, if you find it fascinating you are look up the scientific paper or find more information at news.discovery.com

Behavior Study

Thanks Good Reads for the Photo

Thanks Good Reads for the Photo

There was also a behavior study done recently showing the differences in 13 hand-reared wolves and 13 pet dogs.

You would think that if one was essentially the other then a hand reared wolf would behave and react like a dog, right?

The study proved that dogs and wolves behave very differently.

Would it surprise you to read that when threatened by a stranger the hand-reared wolves simply turned around and sniffed the ground; yet the dogs barked and growled.

And, even though most the pet dogs guarded a “bait” or food bag given to them and then the tester attempted to take it away, they all gave it up in the end.  But, the wolves (5 of those that participated) 3 gave up the bag 2 did not and one tried to attack.

If you would like more on this study click here

Evolution

So if we believe in evolution (and I know some people don’t) then we believe that 2.3 million years ago the earliest humans evolved and began using tools, 1.8 million years ago Homo Erectus evolved, and between 400,000 and 250,000 years ago Homo Sapien evolved and 50,000 years ago people began some symbolic culture, language and technology.

I am here to tell you, no matter what you believe, that we are significantly different than those early people millions of years ago.

Our brains are bigger and our whole bodies and systems have changed.

Why then do we think dogs have remained the same for tens of thousands of years?

Dogs have evolved and changed with the time as well.

It has been proven that with the emergence of agriculture dogs living near humans adapted to an agricultural diet.   These dogs possess more amylase that help them digest starches.

Cool huh?

Thanks Teacher's Pet for the Photo

Thanks Teacher’s Pet for the Photo

So diets based on “what a wolf would eat” aren’t necessarily the best choice for your pet dog.

I also think that it is outlandish to say things like “wolves benefit from a raw diet or flourish on a raw diet”.

The truth is the wolf doesn’t have a choice.  And, he might not live past 2 or 3 years of life.  There is no wolf nutrition or wolf veterinary care that extends their lives.  Sometimes they lead very hard and very sad lives, starving to death, succumbing to disease and meeting other sad ends.

Chances are they don’t have a “balanced diet” they eat what they can when they can and they probably have brittle coats and all the other things that go with not getting the nutrients they need.

Our dogs live longer because we know about and have studied how nutrition, vitamins and nutrients can benefit them.  We have decades of studies on how nutrition affects our canine companions.

Veterinary medicine also keeps them disease free and this extends their lives.

Proponents of raw diets drawing comparisons with wolves seem silly; my dog would starve to death and die of disease if he was on his own and he certainly wouldn’t have a balanced diet.

It is my job to keep my dog healthy, well vetted and well fed with a balanced diet.

Educate Yourself

Don’t just rely on the old “my dog is a wolf” mentality.

When it comes to behavior it has been disproven.  Even the Alpha Wolf theories were disproven by the man that created them for more on that click here.

When it comes to diet it has also been disproven and your dog needs things that wolves don’t necessarily get in their diet.

You wouldn’t feed your dog bloated rotting meat would you?  Sometimes they must eat rotting carcasses in the wild to survive!

Thanks Dog Breed Info for the Photo

Thanks Dog Breed Info for the Photo

Do your research.

Teach your dog, don’t use excuses and don’t use force (alpha rolls and dominance theories) because they are based on some kind of wolf behavior.

Feed your dog foods that will help him nutritionally and those that are made specifically for him!

Knowledge is power, and information is growing and changing all the time with our ability to map DNA and study things we have never before had the ability to study!

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Comments

  1. Amy Gruber says:

    I’m interested in reading more about the alpha wolf theories and how they were disproven but the link in this article is not working. Could you send me that link?

    Thank you
    Amy

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/alpha-pack-theories-disproven/

    I believe there are links in there and you can also do a google search of Alpha Theories Disproven and it will bring up even more information since this article is a few years old.

    [Reply]

    Dr Shelly Reply:

    Dna, has shown, the Dog is directly accented of the wolf, husky, German shepard, collie,exc. Yes reasonably so there are differences, as in evolution, changes over a period of time, wolfs are not as sociable, and dogs are more domesticated, as environment plays a roll. Genetics, and DNA have clearly Identified that the same DNA that is found in a wolf is found in every Canine.What he is referencing to is simple environmental, and psychological behavior, as a dog is socially raised ,to be protective over its owner, and family. Wolfs are raised in packs with there pack. So they will protect there own,(Pack) from danger, and of course(Food). However I have full blood wolfs that live with me, and yes there are differences, such as being protective over there food. However I had a full blood Shepard at one time, that you could not get near him or his dish when he was eating. As I see it ,there are differences in dogs and wolfs, but there are also main aspects such as play, wolfs can be just as playful ,as your domestic dog, I play tug a war with my wolf he usually wins! but My dogs are just as playful, however ,my wolfs will not go fetch a ball, but if you throw them a a raw hide bone, they will go fetch, and bury just the same as a dog will. You show me your DNA!

    [Reply]

    Matt Reply:

    So basically the original article is incorrect? OK, I’ll delete it from my history and memory. My German shepherd howls, “Ow ow Aaawhoooooo!”

    [Reply]

    Sue Walker Reply:

    Thank you for this information.
    My dog, Bandit, was fed a raw food diet for a short time when he was a puppy. He didn’t really like the raw food but I wanted to give him the best diet possible, so I tried it and finally switched to a healthy dry food. Since there has been so much advertisement favoring raw food, I was thinking about it once again. Thank you for making sense and educating me on the truth. Bandit and I are thrilled to know we are doing the right thing.

    [Reply]

  2. Christine Pielenz says:

    Thank you for this. I couldn’t agree more. “Thanks” to Cesar Millan and others that think like him the understanding of how dogs operate has been set back centuries. It’s driving me nuts. This nonsense just won’t go away. Hopefully your article will contribute to offset some of that damage.

    [Reply]

    Don Reply:

    Fact is, none of the “science” behind these articles can be used to prove or disprove the dog/wolf relationship because the studies have so many different variables that affect the outcome (health of animals, captivity, prior interaction with humans etc). Animals are as individual as humans, and as we all know, what works for one human does not necessarily work for another. People like think they know it all when writing these articles, I’m not saying they do or don’t, I’m merely pointing out there are always going to be factors that invalidate these theories.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Just sharing the newest information. I think DNA is interesting because it is not something we were able to map decades ago.

    Yes, things change and sometimes as a result so does our training or feeding

    [Reply]

  3. Val Bonney says:

    I believe you have to be careful with what is written. I don’t believe in Alpha rolls etc. and total dominance over family pets, however if the dog within the family structure is allowed to do whatsoever it chooses then chaos will reign, and people will have huge problems. People need to be able to give boundaries, and have then adherred too. The dog has to learn to live with the family, and not visa versa.

    Too many are now going with no correction, just give some time out. I don’t believe in punishing a dog, but he does need a swift correction for some things it may be doing. Just a quick Ah Ah in a firm voice can be enough. Sometimes it may take a little more, but any correction given has to be immediately followed by a command that the dog knows and can do, and swift PRAISE for doing the action required.

    When balance is not provided them harmony does not exist. Don’t knock all the old ways, please balance them out and remember the biggest problem the dog has is usually its owner.
    After 40 years of training, and hundreds of dogs each week, I have learnt that respect for both dog and human is the only way to fly.

    [Reply]

  4. Julie says:

    Ahhh! So good to hear someone challenging long held theories that just don’t seem relevant anymore. I recently got involved with a hands off dog trainer and training my dogs is a breeze compared to a previous trainer who felt compelled to physically ‘bully’ my dogs in order to ‘break’ them! I have 2 Golden Retrievers & there is no way that their behaviours resemble wolf behaviour!!! Perhaps a certain, well known dog trainer that has had big media success, is successful in dealing with vicious or dangerous dogs but his methods (& those of the previous trainer that I used) aren’t acceptable to me, nor are they useful in dealing with my gentle & intelligent dogs. I would suggest that the most successful thing that the media dog trainer has done, is make dog owners more aware of how much dog owners need to be trained & to be consistent in their expectations of their dogs.

    [Reply]

  5. Vincent Salonia says:

    What is the best dog.

    [Reply]

  6. sylvia says:

    I recently sought knowledge about raw food. what I found was not encouraging. one sight said you can give your dog raw chicken bones because they don’t splinter,if not cooked. call the vet mine said raw chicken cause pancreatitis. Please be careful with your loving pets

    [Reply]

  7. Aurora C. says:

    If one accepts that line of thought then a grain based diet fit for a bovine or porcine is not an appropriate diet for a dog either.

    I suggest reading Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts About Pet Food by Ann N. Martin then you won’t be in panic mode when the next pet food recall is announced as they are daily.
    Another good source is truthaboutpetfood.com/
    Minette you are a wonderful trainer – stick to what you know!

    [Reply]

    kellygirl Reply:

    Aurora
    You are correct in your approach to canine feeding.
    All this junk about “grain free” is just lies. Tapioca starch, peas, potatoes, millet, any of is a complex carbohydrate. ALL will turn into sugar. Whether it be rice or any of the above, the end result is the same, SUGAR. The pet food industry have fooled all of you into thinking that these ingredients are good for your pet. On occasion, no big deal, daily…VERY WRONG.
    Raw is great! You must supplement the food. There are many companies that prepare it for you. Its frozen. Halshan, Small Batch and others. NO GRAINS/STARCH, No ground up bones (because you don’t know how old they are). None of the above ingredients. If you feed that way now, you will pay later with health problems,guaranteed. No raw food company has ever been recalled!
    Feeding raw can not be willy nilly, it must be a program that you do every day. Not just open a pack of raw meat and feed it to your pet. An excellent way to educate your self is to read free ebook on Patmckay.com. That is the correct way to do raw. No Im not affiliated with her in any way, I just know what is the right way to feed raw.
    I don’t use her supplements anymore, although they are wonderful, I use Nzymes. Cant say enough good things about them. I highly suggest to use them to supplement your food.
    If you feel convince to use dry, use Wysong Epigen 90. No starch at all.
    The most important thing to remember…you want to mimic the wild, yes mimic the wild. Try not to be too rigid. I feed carrots to my dogs, won’t find them in the wild, but they love em’. One more thing, you will need to choose which way to feed. Either raw OR dry. Mixing them will cause distress on GI track.
    Just know that as a pet owner, if you choose raw you will feed less and the poops will be less and won’t stink and that you will be doing the very best for your pet!

    [Reply]

  8. Todd says:

    While today’s dog may not be a wolf, they most certainly are descendents of the wolf. And as such, their digestive system is no different from many thousands of years ago. A “raw diet” is by far the best and proper way to feed today’s dog (and cat for that matter) who’s whole system thrives from the living enzymes and other such nutrients received from this type feeding. The data and testimonies from raw feeding are endless. My own history with my furry family members also supports the raw diet.

    The commercial dog food (heat processed food diet) has proven countless times over to be detrimental to dogs along with over medication.

    [Reply]

  9. Glee Thacker says:

    No dogs are not wolves. The oldest historical reference to differentiate the two is the Bible. Although not specifically addressing wolf verses dog it makes a distinction between wild and domesticated species and assures us each will reproduce according to its own kind.
    Although they share similalrities they are distinctly different as surely as humans and primates are.

    However, everything on this planet eats its food raw except humans and the pets they feed. Now logically there is benefit in fresh, raw, wholesome nutrition. My pets thrive on a diverse diet largely consisting of raw ingredients.

    [Reply]

  10. Andrew says:

    My dog may not be a wolf, but he certainly hasn’t adapted to eating a full gluten based, carbohydrate laden diet like those that bagged kibble from Walmart provides. There’s no way you can tell me that that is healthier than a diet from whole foods with cooked or raw protein. (Chinese poison ingredients ignored for the moment)

    If tens of thousands of years is enough for dogs to adapt to a bovine diet, why haven’t humans adapted already? (answer: they haven’t, in evolutionary terms that time period is a blink of an eye)… and no, there probably haven’t been studies done that say gluten and grains are GOOD for your dog.. None that weren’t paid for by dog food companies anyway (and look up who owns most major dog food companies today).

    Look at today’s illnesses based almost entirely from poor diet. Do some research on inflammation, what causes it, how it works the same way in dogs as humans, and then you can understand why dogs now get cancer, diabetes, arthritis and other diseases just like humans who eat boxed “kibble” straight from walmart.

    Thanks, but I’ll go on being “outlandish” thinking that feeding my dogs a balanced diet in whole foods and cooked/raw lean meats is good for them.

    [Reply]

  11. CDP922 says:

    I have two dogs and a wolf and have thought this, I can give so many samples but I’ll give this one. My dogs are always sniffing each other from the behind as well as other dogs and even tho it drives my dogs crazy the wolf is always putting her nose in the other dogs mouths and never goes be hide the dogs and sniff as dogs do. HOWEVER I have always wondered why wolfs do this behavior ANY INSIGHT of why this is?

    [Reply]

  12. Dani says:

    I know a lot of people who feed their dogs a raw or (more commonly)partial raw diet, and NONE of them do it because they think their dogs are wolves. Adding wholesome raw food to your diet is just good nutrition…just like humans know that whole raw veggies are a better choice for them than pre-packaged processed foods are. I did not miss the point of the article, and there was a lot of good info, but if someone is interested in adding raw food to their dogs diet they should do their own research. High quality, balanced nutrition is important, and pre-packaged processed foods will never be able to compete with what nature can do on her own…and that is true for any animal’s diet…human, dog, or otherwise. But please do your homework, dogs have dietary needs specific to them and balance is key.

    [Reply]

  13. Yvan says:

    I agree that dogs are not wolves. But the kibble nutrition is proven not to be the best for our dogs. Numerous publications and articles by “educated” people, including Vets and Phd in animal nutritions (Read “Natural Nutrition for Dogs and Cats” by K R Schultze for example) give clear explanations as to why that is. There is not doubt that there are very large compagnies who make $$$millions selling their dry dog foods and spend a fortune trying to tell you that it is the best for our pets…

    You can easily get a balanced raw diet nutrition certified by AAFCO

    See: http://alimentscruegrenier.com/

    and be able to observe the beneficial effects of such a diet on your pet

    Yvan

    [Reply]

  14. Noel Victor Comley says:

    noel@comley.ws

    Perhaps dogs did not descend from wolves but from some other wild dog but I agree that they are not wolves now.

    But humans did not descend from great apes but from an ‘ape like creature’ that was always potentially man. We may have looked like apes but were always a distinct species. No matter how long we follow the great apes of today none of them will eventually evolve into humans.

    No I don’t believe that we suddenly appeared as humans; the process was slow and evolutionary and we may have looked ape-like but the ‘spark’ of humankind was within that ape-like person.

    [Reply]

  15. Stacey says:

    Your right dogs are not wolves nor are they children. But if you can not see any similarites in behavior….you are turning a blind eye. Dogs do need an Alpha, they do need to know what is right and wrong in our world. And they do need fresh food, proteins, vegetables, some fruit and healthy fats to thrive, how can you even think raw food is not healthier? The nutrition in canned or dried pet food is over processed, filled with cheap grain and lacks the real nutrients only fresh can provide. The big pet food companies are in it for profit…who doesn’t know that. So just like every other living creature on earth keep it simple and natural. That’s what it really means to be caveman like or wolf like.

    [Reply]

    carol Reply:

    I changed all my dogs to Raw a year ago and it’s amazing how much better they do. Their coats shine, their teeth are always CLEAN, they LOVE it and they poop less and they don;t ever get that “wet dog” smell anymore either. I’m sorry, but I’ve researched this and raw is as much better for dogs as raw has been proven for humans! It’s the enzymes, the “live” part of the food that is killed in cooking. Doesn’t take rocket scientist to figure it out if you take a little time to research. My dogs respond much better if they know I’m the boss. It may sound stupid to some, but I do use some of Ceasar’s methods and they WORK everytime where I was struggling before. So though I have not done as much research on those particular methods I have used them and found great success.

    [Reply]

  16. John Heron says:

    Ok…
    I accept that my Airedale Terrier, Australian Champion Tjuringa Navajo Warrior aka “Codey” may not be descended from a wolf…
    but I can assure you that I AM.
    Interesting article (some links are missing – can you fix them?)
    I hope you will do a follow up soon!
    John Heron
    Sydney Australia

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I will look into those.. sorry 🙂

    I’m a little wolf too 😉

    [Reply]

  17. Dani Bo says:

    I know a lot of people who feed their dogs a raw or (more commonly)partial raw diet, and NONE of them do it because they think their dogs are wolves. Adding wholesome raw food to your diet is just good nutrition…just like humans know that whole raw veggies are a better choice for them than pre-packaged processed foods are. I did not miss the point of the article, and there was a lot of good info, but if someone is interested in adding raw food to their dogs diet they should do their own research. High quality, balanced nutrition is important, and pre-packaged processed foods will never be able to compete with what nature can do on her own…and that is true for any animal’s diet…human, dog, or otherwise. But please do your homework, dogs have dietary needs specific to them and balance is key.

    [Reply]

  18. Lucy Ashes says:

    It’s true that humans and their pets are the only creatures on earth that eat cooked food. So why wouldn’t a raw diet be good for our dogs? Also, left to her own devices, my dog will eat almost anything, even things that are definitely bad for her, even toxic.

    [Reply]

  19. Ron Buchanan says:

    WOW! It seems that there sure are a lot of ‘authorities’ out there that “know” what is right and wrong. And many of them write books. And lots of people in order to support one theory, feel the need to damn someone else’s. The very bottom line for most people is to always do what you think is ‘right’. But also always keep an open mind and review other peoples beliefs and views, do your research as best you can and modify your own belief system because nearly everyone’s, except the inflexible, change from time to time when new information becomes available. No one person knows it all or does it all correctly. Feed them totally raw. Feed them mixed raw and processed. Go only with processed. Within each there are a myriad of differences. The ‘experts’ tell us one day eggs are bad for us. Next week they are good. Same for salt. Same for chocolate and thousands more edible items. All things, except love, in moderation. Know WHY you believe what you do. Fact or emotion. All dog trainers are partially right and sometimes wrong. Every dog is different, like people, and requires adjustment in their food, training, exercise plan and every other phase of their life. So do you. Dogs and wolfs are likely distant relatives as are man and apes. Some VERY distant and some, not so much. Every dog and human has an inherited general life span that can be shortened or lengthened by experience on earth. Do the best you can and if you are happy it is most likely so will be your dog.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Very well put! I agree! 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. Susanne says:

    I think exploration of the dog/wolf link is about finding ways to take better care of our canine companions. It is also romantic, as in, if my canine companion has a little wild in him, then I, too, am a little less domestic and mundane. The fact is that Buddy does not suffer the separation anxiety domesticated wolves seem to. He is happy to see me leave for work so he can get his eight hours sleep!
    Thank you for the good information and to everyone else for the interesting comments!

    [Reply]

  21. Luann Johnson says:

    To Minette,

    I enjoy all of your articles. I even signed up for the Dog Aggression Training program because you were involved. I also been using Chet’s Hands Off Program for years (with all my 3 dogs) and got amazing results.

    I really like this article because I have a Siberian Husky and a Alaskan Malamute. They do have wolf like appearances and everyday I get people asking if they are wolves or part wolves. I even had a man at the pet store yell Wolf when we walked in and this startled everyone. I always explain that they are pure breed DOGS and have NO wolf in them. Then at times I tell them about the breed that they are sled dogs. I need a pamphlet to give out. I don’t mind if people say that they look like wolves but I do mind when they tell me that they are vicious animals. Makita has her CGC and is my service dog. Balto is in training for his CGC and is a therapy dog and possible future service dog if he passes his test.

    Thank you again for all of your excellent articles.

    [Reply]

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