This Is What Happens To Wolves When They’re Raised Like Dogs

Though wolves and dogs look a lot alike, the two are separated by about 15,000 years of evolution. It is during this time that the species have veered off into completely different directions. But a connection between the two is still seen.

Gizmodo notes that dogs retain many of their ancestral behaviors. However, less is known about “dog-like” tendencies seen amongst modern wolves until now. A recent study, led by Dorottya Ujfalussy, looked at human-raised wolf pups. It showed that wolves can become attached to their owners.

Research published by the Royal Society Open Science shows that wolf puppies display both signs of attachment and affection towards their owners. The study also shows that wolves who are socialized throughout their lives are pretty comfortable around human strangers.

These behaviors have probably led the dog’s four-legged ancestors to find comfort among humans, which led to cuddling furballs known as dogs.

But this doesn’t mean that people can start domesticating wolves. Far from it. Wolves are still not dogs. Not even close.

This study that was done in Hungary tells us something new about the behavior of wolves, specifically that they can become attached to human caregivers.

Such a finding will help in the consideration of animal welfare and human safety issues in zoos and conservation areas.

By no means does this study tell us that humans should start raising wolf puppies, Ujfalussy tells Gizmodo. He notes that human environments are far removed from a wolf’s natural habitat.

Though there are a lot of things that are different between the two, scientists have noticed some behavioral similarities between dogs and wolves.

This study showed that when greeting each other, wolves lick each other’s faces. This is something really familiar for dog owners.

Gizmodo also notes that wolves have the ability to follow a person’s gaze into space and they can understand gestures like finger pointing. This something that chimps can’t even do.

In the two experiments conducted, wolf puppies were put through greeting tests, being exposed to four types of visitors: immediate caregiver, close acquaintances, strangers and people they’ve met once.

The wolves were pretty friendly to all the different visitors. The 6-month-old puppies approached their human caregivers very intensely. The older puppies were more friendly to the people they knew.

There was no aggression noticed in the puppies, though some would show crouching and tail-tucking behaviors when around strangers. This means that they were scared.

Regardless, these results suggest that human-raised wolves will continue to look for human contact into early adulthood.

Ujfalussy notes that it is important to keep in mind that there are limitations to studying wolves in comparison to dog behavior.

Contrary to popular belief, dogs are not descended from wolves, at least not modern wolves. Both wolves and dogs come from a common ancestor around 15,000 years ago.

Also, the sample size that was used wasn’t the best to secure the findings. A total number of ten wolf puppies were used in this study.

Every dog and every wolf have different personalities, so just because ten wolves show similarities with dogs, there can be other ten wolves that are completely different.

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