Wolves and Dogs

Research has now shown, what we believe to be wolves and what we believe to be our dogs, each diverged 27,000 - 40,000 years ago from the extinct Taimyr wolf.

Our dogs are not wolves and shouldn't be treated as such, especially with the whole "pack leader" and "alpha" thing.

Gray wolf, Canus lupus lupus

Dingo, Canis lupus dingo

Domestic dog, Canis lupus familiaris

Subspecies of Canis lupus

They are an entirely different species, but:

"Studies show that 80% of the domestic dogs social behavior is equal or similar to the social behavior of the wolf."  R. Abrantes, Ethology Institute Cambridge.

"Thus, our data are consistent with a trifurcation of the dog, wolf, and Taimyr lineages, indicating that they all diverged at about the same time. This appears to be inconsistent with the hypothesis that dogs and wolves diverged only 11,000-16,000 years ago, since under this model it might be expected that the Taimyr wolf would be confidently placed on the lineage ancestral to the dog-wolf split, due to the substantial amount of genetic drift that most likely would have occurred since the death of the Taimyr wolf (35,000 years ago) until the split between dogs and wolves some 20,000 years later."

Ancient Wolf Genome Reveals an Early Divergence of Domestic Dog Ancestors and Admixture into High-Latitude Breeds

"The origin of the domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris or Canis familiaris) is not clear. Whole genome sequencing indicates that the dog, the gray wolf, and the extinct Taymyr wolf diverged at around the same time 27,000–40,000 years before present.[1] These dates imply that the earliest dogs arose in the time of human hunter-gatherers and not agriculturists.[2] Modern dogs are more closely related to ancient wolf fossils that have been found in Europe than they are to modern gray wolves,[3] with nearly all genetic commonalities with the gray wolf due to admixture,[2] but several Arctic dog breeds have commonalities with the Taymyr wolf of North Asia due to admixture."

Origin of the Domestic Dog

"The researchers used a rib from a wolf which lived in the Taimyr Peninsula of northern Siberia to study the animal's genome, the first draft genome sequence from a carnivore of the Pleistocene era, the time period which spanned from 2.6 million to 11,700 years ago. 

"This individual belonged to a population that diverged from the common ancestor of present-day wolves and dogs very close in time to the appearance of the domestic dog lineage," said the scientists reporting their findings in the Cell Press journal 'Current Biology' on May 21."

A study of the genome from a 35,000 year old Siberian wolf has revealed that the domestication of dogs happened much earlier than previously thought.