For a long time it has been assumed by humans that our pet dogs were much nicer and more cooperative than their distant cousins, the wolf.
According to the research preformed by Proceedings of the Royal Society B, wolves are more tolerant and kinder than the domesticated dog.
“Wolves cooperate more (than dogs do) in terms of breeding, defending territories and probably hunting. Dogs are scavengers,” lead author Friederike Range told Discovery News. Range is co-director of the Wolf Science Center at the Messerli Research Institute, University of Vienna.
The group hand-raised 9 wolves born in captivity and 8 mixed-breed dogs from Hungary. Raised in separate packs and under identical conditions the team of researchers documented the behaviors displayed by the packs, especially at dinner time. At dinner time the wolf pack acted more democratically in that any wolf in the hierarchy could have a chance at acquire food.
The dogs, on the other hand, showed that the same behavior by dogs on the lower hierarchy rank were not tolerated by the higher ranking pack members.
“This means that in the wolves, the higher-ranking partners were more tolerant of the lower-ranking ones,” Range said. “In the dogs, the lower-ranking ones did not dare to challenge the higher-ranking partners.”
One suggested reason for this difference is that feral dog packs are usually made up of unrelated dogs whereas wolf packs usually have a dominate male and female couple and their offspring.
Although the study shows us the calmer and less aggressive side of wolves, doesn’t mean that they would make better pets.
“We (humans) did select dogs for skills that make living together with them a lot easier!” says Range.