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The Wolf in Your Dog


Since this core is as evident in a wolf as it is in a Toy Poodle, it is clear that neither domestication nor wildness has altered their true natures. In the heart of every dog is the spirit of the wolf that embodies the finer qualities of human nature that we call love and devotion.




This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 47: Mar/Apr 2008

Michael W. Fox, PhD, BVet Med, is the author of Not Fit for a Dog and Dog Body, Dog Mind, among numerous other books.


Photograph by Nathan Hobbs

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Submitted by D | August 14 2011 |

"fright, flight and fight reactions" are just that: reactions. But, when an animal has experience of a thing, the reactions are altered or rather dampened. The animal doesn’t live moment by moment in fright or flight, but becomes aware of the shift in the environment by the valuation or measure that the animal has made over time since birth.
The construct of needing to exist determines the value of experiences in the animal’s mind. If food keeps coming to the animal from the human the human becomes valuable. But, the quality and quantity of the value is made solely by the animal. The human’s value to the animal can shift as needed and as altered by environment.
Does an animal think they are captivated? When do they? Are they not measuring the alteration of their perspective and acting accordingly? When differences are presented, are the differences inspected, measured and given value? Does the measured value help in the animal propel itself through the environment?

Submitted by Anonymous | May 5 2013 |

Michael W. Fox, DVM, PhD states in his article, “The genetic, neurochemical, physical, sensory and cognitive differences between dogs and wolves are considerable, and are a consequence of the domestication process, during which docile, easy to handle/eager to please and compliant wolf-dogs were preferentially bred to better serve various human uses. Similarly, the differences between dog breeds (as a consequence of selective breeding) are no less considerable. Within their own species, dogs differ far more from each other than do wolves amongst themselves. These evident differences in canine temperament I see as indicating that dogs initially domesticated themselves.”

The peer-reviewed journal Nature has an article “Origins of domestic dog in Southern East Asia is supported by analysis of Y-chromosome DNA”
By Z-Ding et al from Heredity (2012) that states:
Global mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data indicates that the dog originates from domestication of wolf in Asia South of Yangtze River (ASY), with minor genetic contributions from dog–wolf hybridisation elsewhere. Archaeological data and autosomal single nucleotide polymorphism data have instead suggested that dogs originate from Europe and/or South West Asia but, because these datasets lack data from ASY, evidence pointing to ASY may have been overlooked. Analyses of additional markers for global datasets, including ASY, are therefore necessary to test if mtDNA phylogeography reflects the actual dog history and not merely stochastic events or selection. Here, we analyse 14 437 bp of Y-chromosome DNA sequence in 151 dogs sampled worldwide. We found 28 haplotypes distributed in five haplogroups. Two haplogroups were universally shared and included three haplotypes carried by 46% of all dogs, but two other haplogroups were primarily restricted to East Asia. Highest genetic diversity and virtually complete phylogenetic coverage was found within ASY. The 151 dogs were estimated to originate from 13–24 wolf founders, but there was no indication of post-domestication dog–wolf hybridisations. Thus, Y-chromosome and mtDNA data give strikingly similar pictures of dog phylogeography, most importantly that roughly 50% of the gene pools are shared universally but only ASY has nearly the full range of genetic diversity, such that the gene pools in all other regions may derive from ASY. This corroborates that ASY was the principal, and possibly sole region of wolf domestication, that a large number of wolves were domesticated, and that subsequent dog–wolf hybridisation contributed modestly to the dog gene pool.

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