Wolf-Dog Comparison Project

Dogs are well adapted to survive among humans and differ behaviorally from wolves. How did domestication shape dog cognition and behavior relative to wolves? I was part of a study comparing dog puppies and wolf pups on their temperament and on both social and nonsocial cognitive tasks. We found that even at a young age, wolves avoid novelty (especially unfamiliar people) much more than dogs do, and that dogs are better than wolves at comprehending human gestures yet perform similarly on nonsocial tasks. This indicates that domestication changed dog development in ways that allow early development of cooperative communicative abilities with humans and to delay fearfulness of humans.


Salomons, H., Smith, K.C.M., Callahan-Beckel, M., Callahan, M., Levy, K., Kennedy, B.S., Bray, E., Gnanadesikan, G.E., Horschler, D.J., Gruen, M., Tan, J., White, P., vonHoldt, B.M., MacLean, E., and B. Hare. 2021. Cooperative communication with humans evolved to emerge early in domestic dogs. Current Biology.


Brian Hare
Peggy Callahan
Wildlife Science Center
Canine Companions
Hannah Salomons
Evan MacLean
Gitanjali Gnanadesikan
Daniel Horschler