TAGS: behavior

The 10 Shared Habits of Dogs and Wolves

16 Jun, 2024

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Dogs and wolves are similar in many different ways. From physical attributes to behavior, and even share 98.8% of the same DNA. Dogs and wolves are so closely related that they can reproduce together - however their offspring will not be fertile. For many of us with dogs at home, we will often notice wolf-like characteristics in our pup that seemingly come out of nowhere, given that our dogs are fully domesticated. Dogs and wolves, despite the significant differences shaped by domestication, share a rich tapestry of habits and behaviors rooted in their common ancestry. These similarities offer fascinating insights into the nature of our canine companions, revealing the instincts that have endured through thousands of years. In this article, we delve into ten shared habits of dogs and wolves, shedding light on the evolutionary traits that continue to influence our pets today.

Siberian Husky


1. Pack Behavior

Both dogs and wolves exhibit strong pack behavior. Wolves form tight-knit packs with a clear social hierarchy, relying on group cooperation for hunting and protection. Similarly, dogs, especially those living in multi-dog households, establish a social order and often look to their human family members as pack leaders. Understanding this instinct helps in training and building a harmonious relationship with your dog.


2. Territorial Marking

Territorial marking is another behavior shared by dogs and wolves. Wolves use urine and feces to mark their territory, signaling their presence to other animals. Dogs also exhibit this behavior, often seen when they sniff and mark on walks. This instinctual habit is a form of communication, conveying messages about ownership and status to other dogs.


3. Howling and Vocalization

Wolves are famous for their howls, which serve as a means of communication over long distances. Many dog breeds retain this vocalization, using howls, barks, and other sounds to express emotions, alert their owners, or communicate with other dogs. For instance, breeds like the Siberian Husky are known for their vocal nature, often "talking" to their owners.


4. Social Grooming

Social grooming is a crucial behavior for both wolves and dogs. In wolf packs, grooming helps strengthen social bonds and maintain the health of the pack members. Dogs also engage in grooming behaviors, such as licking each other or their human companions, which serves as a sign of affection and trust.

Alaskan Malamute


5. Denning Behavior

The instinct to create or seek out dens is deeply ingrained in both species. Wolves dig dens to provide a safe and secure place for raising their young. Dogs often exhibit similar behaviors, such as burrowing into blankets or creating a comfortable space in their crates. Providing a designated den area can help dogs feel secure and reduce anxiety.


6. Play Behavior

Play is an essential aspect of both dogs' and wolves' lives. For wolves, play helps in developing hunting skills and social bonds within the pack. Dogs retain this playful nature throughout their lives, using play to interact with their owners and other dogs. Engaging in play is crucial for a dog's mental and physical well-being.


7. Hunting Instincts

While domesticated dogs may not need to hunt for food, they still exhibit behaviors related to hunting, such as stalking, chasing, and pouncing. These instincts are particularly noticeable in breeds with a strong prey drive, like terriers and hounds. Understanding these behaviors can help in providing appropriate outlets for your dog's energy and instincts.


8. Pack Cooperation in Raising Young

In wolf packs, the entire group contributes to raising the young, ensuring their survival and social integration. Domesticated dogs often show nurturing behaviors towards puppies or even other animals, reflecting this instinct. Multi-dog households may observe older dogs helping to care for and teach younger ones, mimicking the cooperative nature of wolf packs.

Giant Schnauzer


9. Scent Rolling

Scent rolling, where dogs and wolves roll in strong or unusual scents, is a curious behavior that has puzzled many pet owners. For wolves, this behavior may help mask their own scent or communicate information about their environment. Dogs, too, engage in scent rolling, often after finding something with a particularly strong odor, much to their owners' dismay.


10. Digging

Both dogs and wolves have a natural inclination to dig. Wolves dig to create dens or find food, while dogs may dig to bury items, create a cool spot to lie down, or simply for the joy of it. Providing a designated digging area or engaging your dog in activities that satisfy this instinct can help prevent unwanted digging behaviors.



The shared habits of dogs and wolves reveal the deep evolutionary roots of our canine companions. By understanding these behaviors, we can better appreciate the instincts that drive our dogs and provide environments that cater to their natural tendencies. Recognizing and respecting these traits not only enhances our bond with our pets but also ensures their well-being and happiness. Embracing the wild side of our domesticated dogs enriches our lives and deepens our connection with these remarkable animals.


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