Wolves are more tolerant and kinder than dogs, according to a new study, which is at odds with the generally accepted view that domestication made dogs more social.
“Wolves cooperate more (than dogs do) in terms of breeding, defending territories and probably hunting,” lead author Friederike Range told Discovery News. “Dogs are scavengers.”
The research, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, looked at how the animals interacted with their pack mates.
The wolf pack turned out to be more of a democracy, where anyone had a chance at monopolizing the food. High-ranking wolves, as well as low-ranking ones and those in between, could growl and do stare-downs to get their fair share of the meat.
In contrast, only the higher-ranking dogs in the dog pack showed such behavior since it wasn’t tolerated among the lower-ranking dogs.
Wolves were seldom aggressive with their pack mates, according to the study and even – sometimes – showed restraint in encounters with wolves outside the pack, occasionally sparing an animal that rolled over in a submissive position.
The researchers will now look at why dogs make better companions than wolves if it is not greater tolerance and socialisation. They suspect that factors such as losing fear of humans and readily accepting us as social partners, are the skills that set dogs apart as better pets.
Bill Condie is a science journalist based in Adelaide, Australia.
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