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Publication type: Journal Article
Document type: Full Paper

Year: 2015

Author(s): Range, F; Ritter, C; Virányi, Z

Title: Testing the myth: tolerant dogs and aggressive wolves.

Source: Proc Biol Sci. 2015; 282(1807):20150220



Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Range Friederike
Viranyi Zsofia

Vetmed Research Units
Messerli Research Institute, Comparative Cognition


Project(s): The semantics of talking with the eyes and gestures: The hormonal and cognitive underpinings of comprehending co-operative intentional communication in domestic dogs and wolves

Understanding the proximate mechanisms of canine cooperation

Kognition und Emotionaler Hintergrund bei Kooperation


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).


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