The wolf has 15 clear and distinct ways of communication.
All dogs have it within them, to display these behavioural traits, to a greater or lesser extent.
Some dogs, through sheer breeding and dramatic change in appearance, (like bulldogs) can only visibly manage a couple of the same behavioural traits, because their physiognomy and entire shape is so altered, that communication by tail-wagging, stance, crouching or ear positioning is made almost impossible.
So it’s important to remember: the more a dog looks like a wolf, the more obviously similar to the wolf’s, the behaviour will be. That’s not to say other dogs don’t manifest these characteristics. It’s just difficult to see them.
But make no mistake – everything a dog does, is a form of communication.
This is an important factor in determining and modifying behaviour.
“Dogs” and humans began their long and chequered relationship around the end of the Ice-Age. Basically, Man took advantage of the dog’s ability to hunt and protect, and dogs saw the benefit of remaining near humans for shelter, warmth and food.
Over the millennia, we have bred and inter-bred dogs, to drastically change their appearance, size, temperament and behaviour, in order to create breeds specifically designed to perform particular tasks.
Dogs are extraordinary animals. Their adaptability and willingness to please, is nothing short of amazing.
There are now very few breeds that visually, anybody would associate with behaving, or even looking like a wolf.
Many breeds now have long floppy ears (this can cut down on their hearing).Other breeds have been bred to grow heavy coats, which may be useful in their original work, but which in turn, have slowed down speed; long hair over the eyes has impaired vision, (and this has proven to be a risky factor), muzzles have became shorter and wider (which has reduced their ability to smell) and teeth and mouths have become smaller.
We have bred, inter-bred and cross-bred dogs for centuries (and are still doing so, today) in order to ‘artificially manufacture’ breeds capable of certain specific tasks, covered in general, by five categories:
Fighting, hunting, protection, herding and companionship.
Unfortunately, generally speaking in the majority of cases, these specific breeds are no longer required to perform their original intended functions. By and large, the majority of domestically-owned dogs, no longer have a “job”.
But the temperamental element of breeding is still there.
So dogs that have been bred for hunting still need a job to do.
Dogs that have been bred for guarding or protecting, still generally have an air of arrogance and ‘bolshiness’ about them.
Of course, not every dog has the typical elemental behavioural traits of it breed.
There are more differences in dogs WITHIN a breed, than there are differences BETWEEN breeds.
But fundamentally, the genetic behavioural traits of their ancestor is still in there, whether we recognise it or not.
From Afghans to Zwergteckels, the dog we see and know today is in all appearances, a far cry from the wolf. But genetically, there’s still a lot of wolf in there…. over 96% in fact…
And you can’t hide genes….