The Difference between a Wolf and a Dog - The Hybrid Wolf - Are dogs and Wolfs the Same
Is The Hybrid Wolf the Same as a Dog
I wish to begin this article by explaining this is a long article. I put a lot of time and research into this article so I surely hope you enjoy.
The Difference between a Wolf and a Dog - The Hybrid Wolf - Are dogs and Wolfs the Same
Before you begin reading the introduction to the article below, I want to state this is a very long article. A very interesting article and lot of research performed to complete this article. Take the time to read the full article as I think you will learn some interesting facts comparing the dog, the wolf, and the hybrid. This is article is several pages long. At the end of each page you will see the link for the next page.
Would you raise a lion and call it your kitty then expect it to grow and be the same pet as your house cat? I think most of my readers will answer a complete no to this question. It strikes me kind of funny how many people think they can take a wolf or hybrid and raise it as a normal dog.
I write this article after doing a lot of research about the dog versus the wolf and the hybrid. I personally had an experience back in Kansas with a hybrid that was turned loose in the small town my family and I lived in. It ended up this hybrid was shot in the front yard of our neighbors by the police while my wife and I witnessed it first hand. This animal was purposely turned loose in the country setting because the owner could not handle him. The hybrid worked his way into town only to be killed.
It was a sad and tragic ending to this innocent hybrids life. All because someone thought they could raise this hybrid as a dog.
This article will show you there is a huge difference between the dog, the wolf and the hybrid. If anyone reads this article and still thinks a wolf or hybrid can be raised as a dog, you would only be fooling yourself. Let's now get started with this article and I hope you enjoy it. I would greatly appreciate some comments on this article to determine how others feel about the wolf versus the dog theory.
The wolf is the ancestor of all breeds of domesticated dogs. Dogs may look like wolves and are very similar genetically but the two differ vastly. The genetic structures of these two animals create hormonal changes that create completely different behaviors.
Scientists believe between 20,000 and 100,000 years ago wolves started to slowly come around human encampments. Since that time, humans began the process of selection for canines that were less aggressive, less skittish, less territorial, and lack the predatory nature of the wolf. Research has proven that canines (dogs) have the hormonal systems that present with the traits man was looking for. The hormonal traits of the dog versus the wild canids (wolves) are very different. The hormonal differences cause a profound difference in behavior between the two animals. See pictures of the hybrid and the pure wolf I have included at the end of this article!
When you compare the dog to the wolf, the dog is much like the adolescent wolf their entire life. Let me explain! During their adolescent period, the wolf is playful; they can adapt and are able for form bonds with other species. The adolescent wolf will even readily take direction. They are also far less territorial and less predatory in nature during adolescence. You are now thinking wow, sounds like a dog right? Not so! As the adolescent wolf reaches maturity at anywhere from 18-months to 3-years of age, a transition occurs. The wolf will begin to show the behavior of an adult wolf and be next to impossible to handle in captivity or at the least extremely difficult.
Taxonomists recognize the dog as a subspecies of the wolf; this is not a disputed fact. The genetic make up of the two animals are very similar, it is an extreme misconception that the similar genetics make up proves the wolf and the dog are the same animals. They are not the same animal, they are very different.
Hybrid breeders and hybrid enthusiasts argue that wolves and dogs are essentially the same animal. They feel this way because the two animals share common genetic material. Given this argument by the hybrid breeders, let's take a look at a completely different subject for just a moment. 98.4 % of the genetic materials in human versus chimpanzees are identical. Although given this fact, humans and the chimpanzees bear no similarity. Now would we even consider cross breeding humans with chimpanzees to create a different species? I know this is quite a comparison but completely true. This is the same concept when breeding the dog with a wolf. We cannot have the best of both worlds like this.
The Hybrid Wolf
A hybrid is the offspring of a cross between a wolf and a dog, a wolf and a hybrid, a dog and a hybrid, or two hybrids. Hybrids are even called wolf dogs by many. Genetics are the only way to determine how much wolf and dog is in a hybrid. I refer to the term "hybrid" as a genetically high- percentage wolf hybrid that displays primary wolf appearance and behaviors.
Hybrid Wolf Genetic Percentages
A breeder may tell you the hybrid is 63 % wolf and the rest dog. This however is not true. Breeders will say this knowing full well this has to be done by genetic testing. The mixture percentage cannot be determined by ancestry like a hybrid breeder will tell you. Ancestry and genetics is not the same thing. You can easily determine the ancestry of the animal if the parent's ancestry is known but it's impossible to determine the genetic makeup of offspring that result from breeding the hybrids. The offspring receive half of their genes from each parent. If a wolf breeds with a dog, the puppies will be genetically 50% wolf and 50% dog. If one of those pups grows up and mates with another hybrid, by ancestry, the results would be 50% wolf and 50% dog. The genetics however of those second-generation hybrids would be difficult to determine. Each parent passes on thousands of genes. The puppies genetic makeup is unlikely to be one extreme or the other, the pup may fall anywhere between 100% dog and 100% wolf. Any time one breeds a hybrid to a canine, it could result in a genetic disaster. No accurate testing exists that can reveal the genetic makeup of a hybrid puppy. It's genetics and not the ancestry that determines the adult personality and behavior of a hybrid.
The Physical Differences Between Wolves, Hybrids and Dogs
The wolf presents with a narrower chest, much larger teeth and feet. The wolf also has longer legs than the dog. Wolves eyes are more almond shaped than dogs. The ears are also different than the dog, the wolf has a lot more hair inside the ears and the ears of the wolf never flop over. The dog's tail will curl when it's held up or down. The wolf's tail can be held up or down but never curls like the dog. Dogs normally breed two-times per year but the wolf only breeds once per year. Dogs can give birth to pups at anytime but the wolf only gives birth in the later part of spring or early summer.
The hybrid bears no conclusive physical features that separate it from the wolf. Hybrids with high wolf genetics may be impossible to physically or behaviorally distinguish from the wolf. The lower percentage hybrids will appear and act more like a dog.
Wolves have natural born behaviors that are nothing like the dog. This enables the wolf to survive as a wild animal. If you feel a well behaved wolf is like a well behaved dog you are only fooling yourself. Wolves have a natural drive that makes it extremely if not impossible to deal with living in captivity. Training does not eliminate the natural behavior of the wolf.
The dog may at times show some similar behavior to wolves. These behaviors have been markedly altered through selective breeding. With wolves and hybrids, these behaviors are strongly expressed. Not only is it unrealistic but it is inhumane for humans to expect these animals to suppress their natural instinct.
Puppies, hybrids and wolves will accept the human as the dominant one. This as mentioned over and over is due to genetics. As a puppy the wolf learns to survive by it's willingness to submit to the dominant pack members.
Wolves sexually mature by the end of their second year of life. This is about the time the wolf will start to challenge the elder wolves for the dominant role of the pack. The wolf has a very strong ambition to become dominant. This is because only the strongest female and male members of the pack get to breed.
If a dominant wolf shows any signs of weakness, it may be attacked by a subordinate younger wolf. Here's where it gets interesting. A wolf or a hybrid in captivity looks at the human as the "alpha." The captive wolf or the hybrid looks for clues of weakness, it's their nature (genetics again). Something as simple on the human's part such as fatigue, frustration or even a mild injury could set off a dominance battle. This could even end up being fatal for the human.
The same dominance battles will also occur between wolves, hybrids and the canine. If in the wild, the subordinate wolf could just leave the battle but in the confines of an enclosure, leaving the battle is not an option for the wolf or hybrid. It is not unusual for the captive wolf or hybrid to seriously injure or kill those in the enclosure with them.
Normal social manners for wolves and hybrids are to lick each other faces, bite each others muzzles or even straddle each other as a show of dominance. These animals weigh in at about 100-pounds when grown. Given the way they greet, if this were to be a small child, this could be potentially very dangerous for the child.
Predatory Behavior of Wolves versus Children
When you read about wolves versus other wild animals like the mountain lion for instance, there has never been a verified case of a wolf killing a human. What we must consider is wolves in the wild versus wolves in captivity are two different things.
Some different kind of activity can set off the predatory response in the wolf or the hybrid in captivity.
- A screaming child
- A running child
- A child stumbling or crying child
- An injury that shows signs of weakness
- Extreme fatigue and clumsiness
This type of predatory response can occur even if the wolf or the hybrid has been good with the children up to this point. They are however wild animals held in captivity. This could result in serious injuries or even death to a child.
Once this type of predatory response has been triggered, the animal will always see the child as prey. This is genetics folks!
In addition to small children, other animals can also stimulate the wolf or hybrids predatory instincts.
- Smaller dogs
- Many other domesticated animals
The domesticated animals like I mention here should not be considered safe around the wolf or hybrid. Although some dogs may show some behaviors such as this, it is at much lesser extent and by far more controllable.
The wolf pack will drive off or kill wolves that trespass into their territory. This behavior assures the wolf pack those other packs do not trespass and compete for prey. Once again, this is genetics, it's their nature. This does not change in captivity. This is why the wolf or hybrid becomes extremely aggressive with any strange dogs. Should a dog come upon the wolf or hybrid in captivity, death is probably imminent for the dog.
Many other things the wolf or hybrid will do is totally unacceptable to humans. They do this to establish their territorial boundaries. This may even happen inside the home if you allow the animal in your home. To mark their territory, you may experience:
- Scent Marking - Scent marking that can occur anywhere even inside the home.
- Excessive Shyness
Although the above mentioned are not dangerous behaviors, the behaviors are not acceptable by humans.
Just to cover a bit more on chewing, you should be aware the wolf and hybrid jaws are powerful enough to crush the femur bone of extremely large animals like the buffalo. If they decide something of yours belongs to them for chewing, discipline will not help you get the item back. Any attempt to take the item could result a serious bite. You know the old saying possession is 9/10 of the law? This is how the wolf or hybrid will think only they consider this 100 %. You should not even attempt to recover an item they have claimed as their own or a definite fight will ensue.
The wolf and hybrid need a lot of daily exercise. A minimal 3 to 4 hours each day. Preferably at dawn and dusk since this is their most active times. Without this daily stimulation you can assure their will be non-stop pacing, digging and continual howling.
Environmental conditioning can improve an animal's innate behavior. Even a wild animal like the wolf properly socialized while being raised will be easier to handle than an animal raised living on a chain. Ask yourself a question. Can you expect to raise a tiger an expect it to be like a house cat when grown? With any common sense anyone can say no to this question. There is no difference when we speak of the wolf. It's extremely selfish and unfair to think compassion, love and nurturing can overcome the wolf's natural behavior and genetics. We must stop to think, the wolf has developed these behaviors and instincts over millions of years. How selfish could one be to even attempt to take this away from the wolf?
Think of the hybrid now, I think I have showed you there is no difference; the hybrid has the natural wolf genetics. A hybrid owner may have success with one hybrid and the next may act identical to a wolf. Genetic folks! It lies in the genetics between the two-animals. This means either primary dog or primary wolf. Hybrids are wolves and not dogs!
Wolf and/or Hybrid Training
The wolf and hybrid are capable of learning commands however don't count on them to obey these commands. If they become bored, frightened or feel like they are in a dangerous situation, you can forget any obedience. As young wolves or hybrids, the animal will obey. This is in their genetics because as young wolves in the wild they must obey their elder pack members. As the wolf or hybrid grows however, their independence will overpower their urge to obey commands. This could be a dangerous game for you as the owner by trying to over power a now grown wild animal. Due to the evolutionary perspective it's important for the grown adult wolf or hybrid to assert their own independence.
Wolves and Hybrids as Pets
There have been many stories circulate over the years of the wolf or hybrid that was a wonderful pet. Let me assure you, if in fact this were true there is a good reason for this. Any wolf or hybrid that has been a good pet, like dog if you will is due to genetics. This would mean the hybrid took more of the dog genetics than the wolf, more than likely, very little wolf genetics were inherited.
Let's look a bit deeper at some of the stories we hear of wolves being a good pet. First, everyone's idea of a good pet is different. Secondly, these people never state what happened to this supposedly good pet. Research proves most all hybrids in captivity are gotten rid of as they get older. Did it run off, did it kill the neighbor's dog? Given one good pet hybrid we hear of does not mean they are all good pets. This is called aberrant behavior. This means it's not normal for a wolf or hybrid to make a good pet nor should it be expected from this animal.
Maturity in Hybrids
The average age at which the wolf or hybrid matures is about 18-months to 2-years of age. It is at this age where the predatory behaviors usually begin. The animal starts to show signs of aggressiveness or even extreme shyness. If the hybrids genetics are high on the wolf side you will see a drastic change in behavior at about 2-years of age. A study showed that the average age of privately owned hybrids was much lower than the average age of privately owned dogs. This is because as the hybrid starts to age the changes we have already spoken of begin to take place. As hybrids mature they become more difficult to handle due to their natural predatory nature.
It is a proven fact through studies that hybrids are far more likely to be dangerous to humans than the dog. This study took place over an 8-year span. At the time of this study, it was estimated 300,000 hybrids were in captivity. Out of this 300,000 hybrid population, 10-people were killed by a hybrid. This measures out to about 1.25 people killed per-year out of the 300,000 hybrids in captivity. Many more than this were severely injured by the hybrid.
The same study revealed that there were 50-million dogs owned as pets. Of the 50-million dogs, an average of 20 people per-year was killed. Mathematically this equals out to about 0.11 deaths per-year versus the hybrid of 1.25 deaths. Keep in mind also that the hybrids at the time of this study have very little wolf genetics. If the hybrid had a higher percentage of the wolf genetics, the rate of deaths during the study would have been even higher. In a nutshell, the hybrid is 11-times more likely to attack that the everyday house dog or human.
Hybrids or Wolves as Watch Dogs
Wild wolves that are non-dominant in the pack will hang back during times of strange intrusions or other situations that are not normal to them. The alpha wolves of the pack will decide what needs to be done in this situation. In captivity the human is the alpha of the pack. Since you are the alpha of the pack and the hybrid or the wolf you have is the non-dominant one, this animal will hang back and let you handle the situation. Neither wolves nor hybrids will make a good watch dog. They follow their instincts which are to hang back and let the alpha handle it. The dog will do just the opposite in most situations like this.
Cross Breeding Dogs - Intelligence Levels Between Wolves or Hybrids versus Dogs
Many think the wolf or hybrid is more intelligent and healthier than dogs. Genetically, dogs are extremely diverse. Normally there is not an over whelming amount of health problems due to cross breeding dogs. Most seen health problems from cross breeding dogs:
- Hip Displasia
- More Prone to Eye Infections
I might add this is the result of ignorant breeders or those who want to buy a dog for a certain look rather than caring about the dogs overall health. A simple solution is not to cross breed.
Wolves and hybrids learn better through mimicry whereas the dog learns better through abstract commands. Comparing the intelligence levels is difficult because the intelligence level in one environment may be good but not so good in another environment.
Wolves have evolved to solve problems in the wild while dogs have evolved to solve problems associated with humans. Neither of these two animal species deals very well with problems they encounter outside of the environments they have evolved to deal with. You can see determining the intelligence levels of the wolf or hybrid versus the dog is difficult because we are dealing with to different environments and two different animals.
Neutering the Hybrid or Wolf
Neutering the hybrid or wolf certainly should be done at a young age if possible. Neutering will lower the intensity of their attempts to become dominant. You will notice neutering really only helps during the mating season. Overall, neutering the hybrid or wolf makes no difference in behavior other than breeding season.
A Closing Statement about Hybrids as Pets
Ask any long time breeder of hybrids and they will tell you a hybrid is not for everyone. Those who take on a hybrid as a pet must be prepared to handle the hybrid much differently than a dog. The relationship with a hybrid and the hybrid owner should not be considered a master-pet relationship like it is with a dog. What this means one cannot ignore a hybrid. The hybrid cannot be expected to be obedient. The relationship would be more as friends than the master-pet relationship you would have with a dog. Hybrids do not make good pets for the normal family. They are not and should not be considered a dog; they are in essence a wolf.
In closing, I hope this article has been interesting if not at least informative. There was a lot of research and study put into this article. Many portions of this article were also based on years of professional studies about wolves and hybrids by experts in the field. I would love to see some comments and discussion about this topic. Please post your comments or contact me with any questions or comments about this article.