Deakin Communicating Science 2016

EES 200/101

Wolves and Domestic Dogs

The domestic dogs and wolves share many common ancestors. The oldest known was a small creature called the Miacis. The Miacis is also the ancestor of Raccoons, Weasels, Cats, and Bears. This animal remains have been found in Europe, Asia, and North American, appearing in rocks that date back forty-five million years. The Miacis didn’t have a dog like appearances instead it looked more like a rodent, having a long body with short legs. The Miacis descendent the Tomarctus looked far more dog like. The Tomarctus lived fifteen million years ago and is also the ancestor of Jackals and Foxes.

From Stone Age painting we know that dogs and humans have co-existed for millions of years. As humans migrated around the world the domestic dog followed.  The Dingo, for example, was a domesticated dog brought to Australia centuries ago but has since turned feral. No one knows for sure how dogs become domesticated. Some scientist theorises that wolves ventured into human camps to collect food scraps and from there formed a mutual bond.

The Spitz are the oldest known domestic dogs. These days Spitz are a subgroup of the larger dog species, included in this group is the Siberian Husky, Finnish Spitz, Alaska Malamute, Chow Chow and the Samoyed. These dogs resemble the wolf more than any other breeds, with the Samoyed is the closest to the original domestic dogs than any other dog. Most Spitzs are trained and bred as sled dogs. Their coats are thick to withstand the cold temperatures of the arctic.

While domestic dogs have evolved over the years they still hold many of the characteristics of their ancestor. For example the pack. Wolves are social creatures, the packs they form usually consist of family members. With the alpha male and female being the oldest and most experienced wolves. Most of the others members of the pack would be their offspring. Packs aren’t just useful for hunting, they also offer protection from outside threats. How does the domestic dog fit into this? We are part of our dog’s pack, and if you have trained them correctly you are their alpha. In wolf packs members of the pack present food, they have caught to their alpha so that they can have the first pick. Ever wondered why your dog leaves dead rats by your doorstep?

The behaviour of a domestic dog also mirrors the wolf. The way they howl when lonely or when they’re scared their tail hangs between their legs. Even growling when angry or threatened. The main difference in behaviour being that, wolves don’t back. Domestic dogs bark for many reasons, greeting, and aggression.

Wolves and dogs aren’t that different. Every dog has a bit of wolf in them.


Cesar’s Way. (2015). Why dogs bark. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2016].

Taylor, D. (2003). Dogs. New York: DK Pub., pp.12-15.

Marks, J., Michael, S., Holmes, J., Roberts, E., Boorer, W., Denham, S., Forrest, D. and M.R.C.V.S, S. (1970). The book of the dog. London: Hamlyn, pp.5-12.

Richards, D. and Nockels, D. (1980). Know your dogs. London: Methuen/Walker Books, pp.2-3,26-27. (2016). Wolf Facts – Wolf Pack. [online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2016].


One comment on “Wolves and Domestic Dogs

  1. jenniferjt1105
    May 8, 2016

    I found your post really interesting, the similarities between wolves and dogs that you presented are not things that I have ever thought to consider before. I really liked that started off your post by talking about a couple of the common ancestors shared by dogs and wolves. I had never heard of the Miacis or the Tomarctus before, and I was intrigued to find out that they were not only ancestors of dogs and wolves, but also things like cats, bears and weasels for the Miacis, and jackals and foxes in the case of the Tomarctus. You possibly could have also included information about how dominance in determined in wolf packs, and drawn similarities between that and how we become the alpha of our own “pack” in the training we do with our dogs. Your blog was really informative and I enjoyed reading it. Thank you for writing this.


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This entry was posted on May 6, 2016 by in Uncategorized.

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