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January 19, 2012 at 1:37 PMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Wild Canines: The Origins of Modern Dogs

By Victoria Swanson More Blogs by This Author

Although the origins of domesticated dogs are still under debate, it is agreed that they each descended from at least one or more of the wild dogs listed below. They ALL share a 63 day gestation period, have 42 teeth and, in fact, have almost identical DNA!

So what exactly are the differences between canines? Let's meet them below:.

The Wolf

If most people were to take a guess at the origins of their pet dog, they would say "The wolf!", but that may not in fact, be so. Actually, the wolf is only responsible for a portion of the breeds in existence today, though they do play a big part in their modern gene pool. Of those that ARE descended from wolves, there are two different types they be thought to be derived from : the Gray and Red Wolf.

The Gray Wolf is the largest, sometimes averaging about 175 pounds and living mainly in North America.The Red Wolf is smaller, weighing up to 80 pounds and is found in only two states: Tennessee and North Carolina. Some believe the Red Wolf is a hybrid itself - a mix of coyote and wolf - but this has not been proven.

The Dingo

Living in Australia, the Dingo has been around for thousands of years. Dingos are a wild dog though they are sometimes kept as pets by the natives. Thee main differences between Dingos and their domesticated partners are that they have longer muzzles, larger molars and longer canine teeth. They also have a very deep chested body, perfect for long-distance running.

The Coyote

Sharing some of the same genus as the Gray Wolf and domesticated dog, the coyote is one of the most adaptable wild canines. In fact, found from up in Alaska down to Costa Rica, there are coyotes and living in every US state except Hawaii! Known for their high pitch howl, they have 10 other distinct sounds they communicate with. Small game makes up the majority of a coyote's diet, though they do hunt in packs for larger game such as elk and deer.

The Fox

The Fox is considered one of the most distant relatives of the domesticated dog. With over 21 species of the fox throughout the world, the most common known ones are; Red Fox, Gray Fox, Arctic Fox and the Bat-Eared Fox. Foxes are lone hunters usually preferring small game, but happy to snack on wild fruits, berries and insects too. Despite their solitary dining habits however, fox do live in groups and communicate by yapping, howling, barking and whimpering.

The Jackal

Only four species of the Jackal exist. The Side-Striped Jackal, Black or Silver - Backed Jackal, and Simien Jackal can be found in Africa, while the Golden Jackal lives from the Balkans to Burma. A jackal's vocabulary consists of yips, growls and hisses. In terms of their behavior however, they are very similar to the domesticated dogs! Known best as scavengers, they are happy to clean up after a lion's meal and known to follow prides of lions, however, jackals can be predators as well.

The Wild Dog

Two endangered species holds this term - the African Wild Dog and the Dhole of Asia. Unfortunately, the African Wild Dog is almost extinct, but both species are pack animals, living in groups of 8 - 15 dogs. The African Wild Dog is one of few mammals that care for its old, sick and disabled pack members. They average up to 70 pounds..

Which do think YOUR dog most closely resembles?


Dog Bible, Edited by Kristin Mehus-Roe, 2005

Wikipedia - Dingo

Wikipedia - Jackal

Wikipedia - Fox

Wikipedia - Coyote

Wikipedia - Gray Wolf

Wikipedia - Lyacon Pictus

Photo Credit:

sometimesong, ucumari, kwnm00re, meantux, Brandon Christopher Warren, Yvonne in Willowick Ohio, Eric Begin, mtsn, Tarique Sani, 5imon, digitalART2

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  • Oh my goodness, those foxes are so cute! I love foxes (in case you couldn't tell from my profile picture).

    Did you see the National Geographic story about domesticated foxes? In Russia, a group of scientists started breeding together foxes that showed friendly characteristics - and they are showing incredibly dog-like traits now: floppy ears, wagging tails, friendly dispositions. Here's the link - a long read, but definitely worthwhile: (be sure to check out the photos, too!)

  • Yes, I read about that a long time ago, it is very interesting.....

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