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Comparison Study With Wolves And Poodles
instinctive social behaviors of the wolf may be left unexpressed in the
dog simply because the opportunity never arises for them to be
expressed in a new social setting. But even when dogs range freely in
wild or semi-wild circumstances, they show distinct divergences from
their wild ancestors. As part of his behavioral study of the wolf, Erik
Zimen raised a pack of poodles and a pack of wolves under quite similar
conditions. While the wolves ran free inside an enclosure, the poodles
had free run of the rest of the property.
Zimen and his colleagues recorded 362 specific behaviors displayed by
wolves, everything from yawning and stretching to howling and tail
wagging. The poodles displayed 64 percent of those behaviors with
little or no change. About 13 percent of wolf behaviors had vanished
altogether, and 23 percent persisted but in markedly modified form.
found that in performing many of these modified behaviors, the poodles
lacked a seriousness of purpose; compared to the wolves, the poodles
were more playful or simply inept. As Raymond Coppinger observed with
his village dogs, Zimen's poodles were incapable of hunting large prey.
The poodles readily chased things, but their choice of "prey" was
indiscriminate - birds, leaves, bicyclists - and it was clearly a game,
an end in itself, very much as with young wolves at play.
most striking differences seen in the poodles was in their expressive
behavior or rather, lack thereof. Wolves exhibit a rich array of facial
expressions, ear movements, tail positions, and body postures. In
poodles many of these expressions were greatly simplified, and many
were absent altogether.
curling, snarling, and baring of teeth displayed routinely by wolves in
defensive and aggressive situations was considerably muted and
simplified in poodles. In part, this is simply because poodles are
generally less fearful and less aggressive and tend not to mind
invasions of personal space as much as wolves do: they just have less
of an impulse to act annoyed.
as early as four weeks, wolf cubs begin to sleep a part from one
another more and more often. By the time the cubs are four to six
months old, they are like adult wolves, and almost never make contact
with another wolf when sleeping.
The poodles, however, continued to frequently lie together through the
age of eight months or older, and even as full-grown adults did so
about a third of the time, and even in hot weather when there was no
conceivable reason for huddling to preserve body heat. Dogs are, in
other words, simply more pacific and easygoing by nature.
Studies of poodle-wolf hybrids suggest that there may be more than one
behavioral component to dogs' milder dispositions. When Zimen recrossed
poodle-wolves ("puwos") together, these second-generation hybrids came
in a mixed assortment of behavioral types. Some were timid about
approaching humans but were very affectionate when they did; others
were tame and not disposed to flee from novelties but were emotionally
suggests that a reduction in the flight instinct and a greater capacity
for socialization and bonding may be separately inherited traits,
though both are necessary for wolves to become dogs.
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Comparison Study With Wolves and Poodles