Truth or not but many scientists believed that around thousands of years ago, dogs evolved from wolves. It is also believed that dogs are the evolutionary cousins of wolves because they share a number of the same physical, biological, and behavioural traits.
But in reality, they both are different species and are very different from each other in terms of behaviour, diet, size, breed, and many others. Initially, dogs were classified as “Canis familiaris” by Linnaeus in 1978. However, years later in 1993, dogs were reclassified as the subspecies of the grey wolf, and therefore renamed as “Canis lupus familiaris” by the Smithsonian Institute and the American Society of Mammologists.
Evidence that supports this theory of evolution is genetic testing. It is revealed that dogs and wolves share the same number of chromosomes (99%); therefore, they can successfully mate and give life to offspring. There are high chances that in the past, the two species may have interbred while some people believe that they share a common ancestor. Several studies also suggest that the domestic dog that is found today is the first animal to be domesticated at the end of the ice age.
Dogs and wolves have many things in common, but both exhibit many significant differences. The main visible difference between them is the physical appearance and body size. The wolves have a larger and broader head in comparison to their body size while the head of dogs is about twenty per cent smaller with smaller skulls and smaller brains.
The difference is not only limited to head there are many other differences that you can read below.
|Number of Teeth||Dogs and wolves may have the same number of teeth, but the size and strength of jaw are different. Dogs have smaller jaw and comparatively weaker molars than wolves||Wolves have much stronger jaws to hold their prey and larger size of teeth to crush the hardest bone of the prey|
|Legs||They have shorter legs||Wolves comparatively have longer legs and larger feet with two extra-large front toes, which are webbed to help with swimming and webbing through the snow|
|Eye Color||They have a beautiful colour of eyes range in colour from blue to brown||Wolves always have eyes that are in shades of yellow and amber but never brown|
|Ears||They have saggy ears||They have pointed ears|
|Tail||They have short tails||They have long sickle type tail|
|Body Size||Dogs come in a variety of sizes. The smallest species known as Chihuahuas may weigh around 4 – 5 pounds while the largest species Danes many weigh around 150 pounds or more.||Wolves, on the other hand, are larger. The smallest grey wolves weigh around 50 – 75 pounds while the largest may exceed 175 pounds in weight|
|Body Coat||The skin of the dog is coated in a variety of colours||Wolf coats are generally brown, black, grey, or white because they depend on camouflage for survival|
|Reproductive Cycle||Dogs are capable of breeding at any time of the year, as they live alongside humans and their puppies will have just as much food in the winters as they will get in the summer||Wolves give birth during a well-defined time of the year typically in spring. This is important because it is tough for them to find enough food in the winter than it is during any season|
|Pet||Dogs are domestic animal and cannot survive without humans. They are a generally social creature who view us as family||Wolves are wild animals that will never look to humans for affection or guidance. They are an independent creature who can find the solution for any problem they face|
|Bark||Dogs often bark as it is an important mode of communication with other dogs and human||Wolves, however, howl rather than barking|
|Diet||Dogs are omnivorous and also love meat, but they have trained to be more open to the variety of foods their owners offer them that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains||Wolves are purely carnivorous and hunt big animals like deer, buffalo, and moose. They also eat smaller birds and mammals, but they prefer bigger and meaty animals|
|Maturity||Domestic dog puppies take years to mature because they depend on humans for their entire lives||Wolves mature very quickly to be able to survive in this world, and their parents will stop caring for them as much|
|Intelligent||Dogs are pet animals, and they depend solely on humans to take them out of their problems. They play primarily for fun||Wolves are highly intelligent creatures that play for learning survival and social skills. They quickly find out the solution to every challenge they face.|
What is Dog?
Scientific Name: Canis familiaris
Common Name: Domestic Dog
Group Name: Pack
Weight: 4 – 150 pounds
Height: 6 – 33 inches (from the shoulder)
Dog (Canis lupus familiaris), is a domestic mammal that belongs to the family Canidae. It is the subspecies of the grey wolf and is considered as an evolutionary cousin of foxes and jackals. Dogs have been domesticated from wolves around thousands of years ago. Some studies suggest that dogs were first domesticated in East Asia, possibly China. After thousands of years, dogs have developed into hundreds of breeds with a great degree of variation from wolves.
Dogs are looked upon differently in different parts of the world. They are like humans, are highly social creatures. They share many emotions of loyalty, friendship, protectiveness, and affection with humans.
Dogs have earned a prominent position in Western society, and in the United States and Europe, the care and feeding of dogs have become a multi-billion-dollar business. Today, in many countries, dogs are used as protectors or carrier of burden or even as a source of food whereas, in the United States and Europe, dogs are protected and admired.
It is roughly estimated that for more than 15,000 years ago, the dog used to live with humans as a hunting companion, protector and best friend. It is one of the most popular pets in the world and has been well-known to as “man’s best friend”.
No matter you are poor or rich, a dog will be faithful and loyal to you and love you to bits.
Dogs are good pets and can easily fit into family life and need caring for as any other pet such as feeding, grooming, bathing, and when ill, will require a visit to the vets. Dogs grow well on affection and will happily wag its tail when showered with love and attention. Dogs follow all the commands given to them and can also sit and sulk if they get told off for doing something wrong.
What is Wolf?
Scientific Name: Canis lupus
Common Name: Gray Wolf
Group Name: Pack
Weight: 40 – 175 pounds
Height: 36 – 63 inches (head to body), 15 – 20 inches (tail)
Wolves are the largest members of the dog family who usually live in family groups called packs that consist of a male parent, a female parent, and some of their pups. Wolves are very intelligent creatures, and their upright ears, sharp teeth, pointed muzzles, inquiring eyes and other facial features instantly convey this quality.
Wolves are considered as keystone species that play a crucial and unique role in the way ecosystem functions. They are scavengers and hunters and will eat anything they catch from large mammals to small rodents. Some of the animal’s wolves hunt and eat include,
- bison and musk-oxen
- As well as small animals such as beaver, hares and other small rodents.
The body of a wolf is built for stamina, possessing features ideal for long-distance travel. Their narrow chests and powerful backs and long legs help in their efficient locomotion. Wolves are capable of covering several miles trotting at about a pace of 10 kilometers per hour and have been well-known to reach speeds approaching 65 kilometers per hour during a chase.
Wolves have large stomachs and can consume 20 – 25 pounds of food at any one feeding time. However, they can survive devoid of food for up to 2 weeks or even longer if the prey is scarce. Their digestion system is very efficient, with all but 5 per cent of massive meat feed able to be digested.
Key Differences between Dog and Wolf
- Even though dogs and wolves are closely related to each other, but they belong to different families of the Kingdom Animalia. Dogs belong to the family Canis familiaris whereas wolves belong to the family Canis lupus.
- Dogs have a smaller head, wider chest and hips, and much shorter legs whereas wolves have a bigger head, narrow hips and chest, and much longer legs with big paws.
- Dogs are domestic, friendly, and less powerful, whereas wolves are wild, cleverer, and very powerful animal.
- To communicate, dogs bark whereas wolves howl rather than bark.
- Dogs are omnivore and can eat a variety of foods including meats, fruits, vegetables, and grains whereas wolves are carnivorous and hunt their prey that includes big mammals such as elk, moose, buffaloes, deer, and small insects and rodents.
- Dogs live close to humans as they are highly dependent on them, whereas wolves are independent and live in packs to hunt.
It is still not evident that dogs are evolved from wolves, or they are only closely related to each other. They may have the same number of chromosomes, but they are entirely different mammals based on their temperament, diet, and physical appearance.