Are Dogs Wolves?

The conversation has been going on for years about whether dogs are basically governed by the qualities of their distant ancestors, the wolf. There have been lively debates about whether the chihuahua under someone’s arm retains any of the instincts, abilities and natural tendencies of the wolf in his genetic background. Dog owners and professionals and scientists alike have been taking one side or other of this argument to prove whatever point they have in mind. But opinion and conjecture can only get you so far.

Are Wolves Dogs?

Then there’s the question of whether a wolf can be considered a wild version of a dog — or is it a distinct species? Recently there was a lovely article in the New York Times by journalist James Gorman that scientifically  makes the point that a wolf is a wolf is a wolf, right down to the bone. I think this should put to rest the important fundamental differences between the two species.

Are Wolf-Dog Hybrids Safe as Pets?

This topic is one I’ve covered on the air with dog experts and authors and I’ve come down on the side of steering clear of such breeding practices. The wild inside a wolf will always be there, and eventually make life as a pet miserable for the animal — and potentially dangerous for the owners and the canine and human community in which she lives.

Would love to hear from people about their own experiences or understanding of this topic. Please write me to or find me on Facebook or Twitter.

What Does this Say About a Dog’s Diet?

For years I’ve been opposed to the idea that canine nutrition should be driven by the (faulty) concept that dogs are wolves and should therefore be fed some sort of primal raw “throw bones on the ground” diet.  Just as we are learning conclusively that wolves relate entirely differently to human beings — and are influenced by a different set of social behaviors — so should common sense tell us that as dogs have evolved into household pets, so have their physical abilities and needs changed. The ways that domestic dogs chew and digest their food has morphed from their wolf ancestors. High quality dog food has evolved to meet the needs of everything from a 5 lb little doggy [like the puppy Brussels Griffon my sister has] to a Great Dane the size of a pony. My sister’s dog gets Halo small breed kibble and canned Spots Stew — which is a similar dry and wet diet that could be followed by my friend Rhiannon for her rescued Greyhound, Maya. For maximum health and wellness, I use and recommend Halo’s non-GMO, all-meat foods [and leave the idea of foraging for berries and rabbits to the real wolves!]

—Tracie Hotchner

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photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar Attentive standing wolf via photopin (license)