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Blurred Lines (no relation to Robin Thicke)
August 18, 2013 6:02 PM   Subscribe

What, really, is a wolf-dog?? Wolf-dogs already blur the line between dog and wolf - BUT things get really muddy if dogs are proven to have evolved themselves : "The evolutionarily correct way to state all this is that human beings, with their campfires and garbage heaps and hunting practices, but above all with their social interactions, represented an ecological niche ripe for exploitation by wolves."
posted by huckhound (36 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wolf-dogs are ace. Man, look at her - so beautiful. I just hope Casey Anderson doesn't end up as a Werner Herzog documentary.

Dogs are best.

Hell yeah dogs!
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:15 PM on August 18, 2013


Anyone who doesn't like dogs I will fight irl
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:15 PM on August 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Fox-dog
posted by Flashman at 6:27 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually met a few wolves up and close and personal in a park I used to cycle through in England (yes the world is strange strange place). They were probably the most cowardly dog-like animals I have ever encountered. I was pretty surprised by how un-dog-like their behaviour was.
posted by srboisvert at 6:37 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone who doesn't like dogs I will fight irl
posted by turbid dahlia


You leave my cat alone! Bully.
posted by Anoplura at 6:42 PM on August 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


My dad had one of these when I was a kid. He was pretty dog in temperament but man, he got the howl genes and you could hear every animal in the area freak the fuck out when he'd sit back and unleash that wolf howl. I include humans in this because the hair on the back of your neck would stand up. Primal as hell.

He also wouldn't bark. He would stare you down (and he got the wolf coloring and face so he had a great mean mug) and if he didn't like what you were doing, you'd get a hair-raising low growl that said he was Not Fucking Around. But barking? He always seemed to think that was beneath him.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 6:46 PM on August 18, 2013 [11 favorites]


Ghostride The Whip, I've heard this is common in both wolf-dogs and wolves, which leads me to believe that barking is exclusively something that domesticated dogs and their descendants do in an effort to communicate directly with us.
posted by infinitewindow at 6:54 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ghostride The Whip, I've heard that barking is a neoteny, a feature from childhood that accompanied adult animals as they were domesticated. In this case, wolf pups bark, but adults don't, where both adult and pup dogs will. So I'm guessing wolf-dogs don't have that.

There's a bit of a discussion about that in a recent post on the blue about the evolution of cats.
posted by themadthinker at 6:55 PM on August 18, 2013 [6 favorites]


What don't those people understand about "my feet are really cold in the snow and I know gloves will help but I don't know how they work because I'm only a dog". It's clear as day.
posted by The Monkey at 6:58 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


For a time some people stayed with us. They brought a part wolf, part Irish Setter. He was admittedly an almost magically beautiful animal, but he howled, he chased my poor cat into my sleeping spot, and I woke up with curved flanges an inch from my throat. I bit his nose and kicked him. Then we all had to leash him up.
I made them take him away, and also kicked them out because uh this was not funny.
These are not the most predictable dogs. Wolves belong in the woods. Dogs belong with people who want them and will care for them.
Not a fan of breeding wolf-dogs.
Even if the one I thought would kill me was a very beautiful animal.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:03 PM on August 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


Ghostride The Whip, I've heard that barking is a neoteny, a feature from childhood that accompanied adult animals as they were domesticated. In this case, wolf pups bark, but adults don't, where both adult and pup dogs will.

Wait, wait... Are other primates more strongly vocal communicators in their child stage too?
posted by Phalene at 7:06 PM on August 18, 2013


Oh and Sophie Turner adopted her dire wolf.
posted by Talez at 7:09 PM on August 18, 2013 [7 favorites]


I hope the "we don't have time or space for a dog, or know anything about how to train or care for a dog, but we're getting a dog!" set doesn't get interested in this.
posted by thelonius at 7:12 PM on August 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of the teachers that worked for me had a 98% Arctic Wolf/2% dog, his name was Yukon. Pure white and 1.5 times the size of a typical large German Shepherd, it was an impressive beast. Yukon's owner was a skilled trainer and Yukon was obedient and well socialized.

The laws in Michigan changed while she had the pup, pretty much outlawing ownership of wolf hybrids, but grandfathering in ownership for those that already owned them.

Yukon was a fantastic pup, the owner had two small children, 5 and 3 years old, they would crawl on, jump on , ride on and sleep next to Yukon, he was tolerant, and loving.

Had the laws not changed, I would welcome one of these fantastic beings into my pack....

(Note: I'm currently in the process of collecting signatures to outlaw the hunting of wolves in our state, if you're in Michigan, MeMail me and I'll get your signature...)
posted by HuronBob at 7:32 PM on August 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wait, wait... Are other primates more strongly vocal communicators in their child stage too?

For humans, apparently our neotonous traits are more about being big headed and hairless, with small facial features.
posted by themadthinker at 7:56 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't like dogs (although I can stand being around them now). Anyone who has a problem with that can direct their anger into killing off the kind of dog owner who thinks it is a good idea to take two large dogs off leash into a children's playground and let them run around until they bite someone.
posted by jacalata at 8:43 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


According to Ursula Goodenough, the current thinking among biologists is that the canid genome is particularly ripe for mutation, which is why there is such wide morphological variance among the breeds and why breeding programs can show dramatic results within just a few generations:
First, it’s been found that dog genomes harbor DNA sequences, called mobile SINEC_Cf elements, that tend to leave one chromosomal location and insert themselves into a second chromosomal location. Should they happen to insert into a gene or a regulatory element, this modifies the encoded genetic information, generating “insertional mutations.” It’s been estimated that dog genomes have at least 11,000 potentially mobile SINE elements whereas human genomes have less than 1,000. Hence high rates of insertional mutations may have generated some of the variety in the dog gene pool.

Second, it’s been found that many of the genes or regulatory elements involved in generating morphological traits during canine fetal development have a particular feature: they carry what are called tandem-repeat sequences – e.g. CGA-CGA-CGA again and again. When such regions are copied in the germ line, the copying enzymes tend to get confused and synthesize too many or too few repeats, generating “slippage mutations” in eggs and sperm that are inherited by offspring. The slippage rate proves to be far higher in dogs than in other carnivores. Hence high rates of slippage mutations may also have contributed to the variety in the dog gene pool.

Since mutations yield novel genes or regulatory elements that can be subject to either natural or artificial selection, organisms with higher mutation rates are said to be more evolvable than organisms with lower mutation rates. Hence dogs are regarded as being highly evolvable.
Effectively, dogs were born to grow with us.

Which hardly explains why, every goddamn morning, my dog wraps himself clockwise around the tree in our yard and then whines until I come out, unclip the lead, and free him. It does, perhaps, explain the joy I get when he looks at me as if I am a sorcerer, though.
posted by R. Schlock at 8:45 PM on August 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


What, really, is a wolf-dog??

Fucking adorable, that's what.
I love looking at my puggle and thinking "haha that was a wolf once" as he licks his wiener and makes little porcine grunting sounds
posted by jake at 8:55 PM on August 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


What if dogs/wolves could communicate telepathically? Imagine what kind of group mind that would be! And if they were smart! A Fire Upon the Deep
posted by ashbury at 9:14 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


you'd get a hair-raising low growl that said he was Not Fucking Around

Our German Wire Hair Pointer does this. It was a bit unsettling at first. A 3-month old pup is not supposed to growl at you when you go to move him off the couch. Now we are used to his vocalizations; he's just very vocal when he is disgruntled or impatient (or begging) or telling other dogs to fuck off, which he does way more than I'd like.

But man we sure didn't get the no-barking part of the deal. I've never had a dog with a more piercing, pain-inducing bark.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:00 PM on August 18, 2013


TV camera microphone covers, the natural prey of wolf dogs, ferrets and bobcats.
posted by jamaro at 10:12 PM on August 18, 2013


"It's Bob, all right... but look at those vacuous eyes, that stupid grin on his face -- he's been domesticated, I tell you." -Gary Larson, The Far Side
posted by kliuless at 10:21 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wolf-dogs? No, this is the real terror.
posted by fallingbadgers at 10:56 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


What, really, is a wolf-dog?? What's a wolf-dog? You are! YOU are! You're a wolf dog! Good wolf dog! YES YOU ARE, Yes.
posted by BinaryApe at 10:59 PM on August 18, 2013 [8 favorites]


Thanks.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:09 PM on August 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


I've grown to appreciate wolfdogs and the idea that wolfdogs can be taken care of responsibly after speaking with professional dog trainers, authors, and wolf sanctuary owners who are in care of wolfdogs.

One of the wolfdog owners I spoke with on the phone is close enough to Mexican wolf territory that she actually works on the ground in Mexican wolf advocacy. You could hear her dogs/wolves howling in the background. (She was taking one for a walk while she spoke with me on her cell phone.) Beautiful animals, but they need space, and it should go without saying that most dog appreciators should only keep dogs without wolf DNA.

Wolfdog owners, the ones I've met at least, seem to be some of the most passionate advocates against wolf hunting and trapping. Another point in favour of wolfdogs, but it's not a blanket approval of wolfdog ownership.
posted by quiet earth at 11:10 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


For information on wolves and the domestication process that resulted in dogs I can recommend these two books:

1) The Philosopher & The Wolf (by Mark Rowlands): An autobiography of sorts by an academic who adopted a wolf cub.

2) The Genius of Dogs (by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods): An incredibly readable book on the evolution of domestic dogs. I saw Brian Hare speak many years ago about the work that has ended up being discussed in this book - it's a fascinating read on how humans and dogs evolved together!
posted by Alice Russel-Wallace at 12:56 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh and Sophie Turner adopted her dire wolf.

I don't know why, but I found this statement incredibly heartening. I think the way my brain processed it is that in at least one universe, Sansa and Lady are playing happily together.
posted by Acheman at 3:59 AM on August 19, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm not really a fan of the wolf-dog, because as the owner of a rescued Siberian husky, I know that people's eyes are bigger than their hearts/resources. Huskies and malamutes are hard enough to handle, and end up in shelters far more than they ought to because people don't realize what it takes to own a dog that's demanding in those kinds of ways.

Siberians and malamutes are genetically supposed to be as close to wolves as any domestic.

And you can totally see it. Huskies vocalize like that, with the growls of various kinds, singing... but rarely a bark. My husky only barks--once--when she wants her human to do something and a low growl hasn't gotten her what she wants. When she wants to go out in the morning (at dawn) she tries a collar shake. If that doesn't wake me, a low growl. If that doesn't work, a single high pitched bark. She never barks at other dogs, at passersby, or at anything. But the growl--it's a little disconcerting. Play growls, attention growls, leave-me-be growls, and don't-you-fucking-touch-my-bone growls all have their tones and meanings. They are extremely tricksy and intelligent, and get bored easily if you don't change things up. Something as simple as taking the same woodsy trail twice in a row makes her pull a sit-down strike. Having a husky off-leash is one way to get your husky to take a week-long run-about toward Canada.

A deer carcass can turn my husky into a wolf in one second flat. Trying to drag her away from one can be a crazy experience, and I could never do it with words alone or without a harness/leash. I couldn't imagine trying to do that with an animal as big as a wolf-dog. I watch her hunt after the yard's resident chipmunks, and see her skills develop, and instincts kick in. She caught one once, and tossed that thing twelve feet into the air, instinctually. It escaped, but it was her first catch ever. (She's just a year old.) Next time, I have no doubt she'll break that thing's neck immediately.

When the cat leaves her a morning meal of a headless bunny carcass (which she does as often as she manages a kill), the dog eats the thing entire. Look away and you'll miss it.

Also, I was surprised at the idiocy of that guy, trading his gloves for the mike cover, and trying to tell the wolf-dog not to eat it. If that guy had had any sense, you trade the mike cover for a nice fatty bone. Then he'd have had no trouble.
posted by RedEmma at 4:31 AM on August 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Not really a dog person. Not since having been chased by one dog every single day after getting off the bus. Terrifying. Some dogs like me, some tolerate me, others can't stand me. I try to be nice to them and am very affectionate to the ones who are affectionate to me. But if they don't like me after many attempts, I just try to stay away (to the point that I avoid going to my friend's house as much as possible ;_;)

That said, I love wolves, and I think it's because I'm part werewolf (I rage with the best of 'em). I especially love Grey Wolves. I am a huge anti-wolf-hunting person. I can understand why you hunt deer, because your excuse is "we killed off all the wolves" so then you introduce wolves and now you want to hunt them. Fuck you, all you care about is hunting, not about ecological balance. You just don't want wolves to have what you consider YOUR prey.
posted by symbioid at 6:41 AM on August 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yukon was a fantastic pup, the owner had two small children, 5 and 3 years old, they would crawl on, jump on , ride on and sleep next to Yukon, he was tolerant, and loving.

This kind of behavior is common in all dogs but is especially strong in Spitz type breeds (Husky, Malamute, Akita, etc.). They among the oldest dog breeds so they tend to have a really strong pack mentality. They see the kids as the pack's pups and will be more tolerant towards them and more protective of them. I'm not at all surprised to see similar behavior in wolf-dogs.

It was one of the reasons that we got an Akita when we were finally ready to get a dog.

When we took our dog to training classes, the trainer told us about a wolf-dog that she used to have who was a lean 150Lbs. A friend of their came over and the dog, who was otherwise very well trained, jumped up and put his paws on their friend's shoulders and proceeded to stare at his face for a few moments. The friend just stood there and nervously asked, "Um, is he going to bite my face off?" After getting over their surprise at the dog's behavior, they called him and he immediately complied.

It turns out that the dog had never seen someone with a full beard before and just wanted a closer look.


We are primed to seize on what are, in truth, fundamental, programmed behaviors in dogs and read into them extravagant tales of love and fidelity.

I'm bugged by this whole section of the article in the 2nd link. Like humans aren't just a more complex combination of genetic programming and learned behaviors?
posted by VTX at 7:24 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Katjusa Roquette, I was walking my boy Dexter through the 3 Rivers Arts Fest this year when a dog/wolf hybrid leaped over a squatting human, pulling its leash taut (thankfully held firm by the owner) to make I-will-kill-you sounds at my startled dog. (The squatting human had actually been petting said hybrid.)

The owner's reaction? "You need to control your dog!"

I really can't think of many worse places to take a wolf hybrid than a crowded fair.

But it leads me to an observation: a significant part of the problem with wolf hybrids is the sort of people who often own them. Much like the asshats who keep thousands of emotionally-starved Rottweilers for "protection" in their back yard, too many owners of hybrids just don't get that they are tending a semi-wild animal, not owning a doggie.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:21 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


I really can't think of many worse places to take a...

You could put anything here. But like you said, the fault is on the owner to know when and where it's appropriate to take a [thing].

So the only problem with a wolf/dog hybrid, is that by nature it requires some sort of human interaction.
posted by Blue_Villain at 11:08 AM on August 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Boxer dog dance.
posted by BlueMarble72 at 4:01 PM on August 19, 2013


What rhymes with hug me (Warning: auto-play sound)
posted by eviemath at 8:02 AM on August 28, 2013


Erg, wrong thread.
posted by eviemath at 8:03 AM on August 28, 2013


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