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How are dogs still 99% wolf, after all of the genetic engineering humans have done on them? Is the wolf in them always there, or is it triggered?
Question Date: 2016-08-31
Answer 1:

This is a little complex, but I think you’ll get it. Not all genes are equal. Some are a recipe for something like a muscle or an enzyme that helps you digest food. Others control how things develop from embryos. When these key regulatory genes give different signals, or switch on or off at different times, it makes big differences in how things turn out.

We are much more different from chimps than dogs are different from wolves. We share about 98-99% of our genes with chimps. That doesn’t mean we’re 98% chimp. It just means that we got most of our genes from the same ancestor, but some key genes are different. These genes make us very different.

Dogs have genes that make them keep some of the traits that wolves only have as cubs. They stay more playful and less aggressive. They accept humans as pack leaders. Humans started engineering wolves into dogs thousands of years ago. Some people think it happened when humans took wolf cubs and used them to help hunt and guard. They kept and took care of the ones that they liked and got rid of the ones they didn’t. Wolves with genes that made them get along with humans lived and reproduced more than wolves that didn’t. Others think it started by wolves scavenging on our trash (which was bones and food we didn’t want). Wolves who were too scared to get close to humans missed out. The ones who weren’t scared were more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on their genes.

Whichever story is true, it starts off like any story of natural selection. Each individual has their own set of genes that are different from everyone else’s (unless they have an identical twin, for example). This variation is the “raw material” of selection. It is caused by random mutations in DNA.

A researcher did an experiment where he selected for dog-like behavior in foxes. By selectively breeding ones that were less afraid of humans, he got foxes who really weren’t afraid at all. They probably had different genes that made them less afraid. After more generations, more of these genes were brought together in the same animals, so now they act like dogs.

With dogs, it is always possible that a new mutation or combination of genes will result in a dog that is not the friendly companion we expect. It doesn’t necessarily mean that a wolf gene was triggered though. What happens more often is that dogs who could have been good family pets are mistreated, making them very aggressive. Wolves are not usually aggressive to their own pack members in the wild. They have to cooperate to kill big prey, raise pups, and guard their territory. They can be very aggressive toward other wolves that try to enter their territory, though.

You may want to study animal behavior. Here’s a site on dog evolution that you may enjoy: click here

Thanks for asking,

Answer 2:

Thanks for your question! Dogs and wolves come from a common ancestor and so they share a lot of traits, but their genes are slightly different. This is why wolves and dogs look and behave similarly in many ways. If what you’re asking is whether dogs still have wolf-like features, the answer is yes. For example, dogs still behave like pack animals (this is why humans are supposed to assert dominance as the alpha) and many have hunting instincts.

The common ancestor shared by wolves and dogs is now extinct, and in part because of this, not much is known about the early process of wolves and dogs diverged except that it occurred between 9,000-30,000 years ago. However, for the past few thousands of years, humans have used a process called Artificial Selection to breed wolves possessing favorable traits like being friendly towards humans, good herders, or loyal protectors. Over time, animals with these traits became more prevalent.

In more recent years, humans have become more specific about traits they desire in their canine companions, and dogs now have a huge variety of size, color, behavior, intelligence, and all kinds of other characteristics. However, ultimately they still share basically the same physiology as wolves.

Answer 3:

The genetic engineering that humans have done to wolves that created dogs is by choosing which wolves mate with which other wolves. This creates more of specific wolf traits while getting rid of other wolf traits. No new genetic material has been added to wolves to make them dogs; just some has been concentrated.

Answer 4:

Dogs are closely related to wolves and share many of the characteristics but humans have bred dogs for certain characteristics such as friendliness. So some of the more aggressive genes have been lost in dogs. Dogs can go a little wild if they are not kept as pets and may get a little more aggressive and not want to be around humans. But dogs have lost some of their ancestral wolf genes that make them as wild.

Answer 5:

Dogs still have some wolf genes, and we still have some of the same genes as apes. We breed dogs to get the kinds of dogs we like, but they still have wolf genes, too.

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