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Proc Biol Sci. 2015 May 22;282(1807):20150220. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2015.0220.

Testing the myth: tolerant dogs and aggressive wolves.

Author information

1
Comparative Cognition, Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria Wolf Science Centre, Dörfles 48, 2115 Ernstbrunn, Austria friederike.range@vetmeduni.ac.at.
2
Wolf Science Centre, Dörfles 48, 2115 Ernstbrunn, Austria.
3
Comparative Cognition, Messerli Research Institute, University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, Medical University of Vienna, University of Vienna, Veterinaerplatz 1, 1210 Vienna, Austria Wolf Science Centre, Dörfles 48, 2115 Ernstbrunn, Austria.

Abstract

Cooperation is thought to be highly dependent on tolerance. For example, it has been suggested that dog-human cooperation has been enabled by selecting dogs for increased tolerance and reduced aggression during the course of domestication ('emotional reactivity hypothesis'). However, based on observations of social interactions among members of captive packs, a few dog-wolf comparisons found contradictory results. In this study, we compared intraspecies aggression and tolerance of dogs and wolves raised and kept under identical conditions by investigating their agonistic behaviours and cofeeding during pair-wise food competition tests, a situation that has been directly linked to cooperation. We found that in wolves, dominant and subordinate members of the dyads monopolized the food and showed agonistic behaviours to a similar extent, whereas in dogs these behaviours were privileges of the high-ranking individuals. The fact that subordinate dogs rarely challenged their higher-ranking partners suggests a steeper dominance hierarchy in dogs than in wolves. Finally, wolves as well as dogs showed only rare and weak aggression towards each other. Therefore, we suggest that wolves are sufficiently tolerant to enable wolf-wolf cooperation, which in turn might have been the basis for the evolution of dog-human cooperation (canine cooperation hypothesis).

KEYWORDS:

aggression; agonistic behaviour; domestication; dominance; tolerance

PMID:
25904666
PMCID:
PMC4424647
DOI:
10.1098/rspb.2015.0220
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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