Posts Tagged ‘wild dogs’

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Bush dogs (Speothos venaticus) are the smallest of the pack-hunting canids.

They live in South America at pretty low densities. They are widespread on that continent, but they are not that common anywhere

Yes, I know they look like the cross between an otter and a fox.

And they are famous for doing handstands to mark their territory.

But beyond that,  they also have been kept as semi-domesticated animals by several indigenous groups. They have never reached the level of the domesticated culpeo, but they have been kept as pets.

It’s not something I recommend, but it is worth considering when we talk about dog domestication.

It is likely that any number of wild dog species have been kept as pets, but only one (C. lupus) has managed to be so successful.

The vast range of C. lupus may have played some role in it, and the fact that C. lupus is a large carnivore that can both hunt the same prey that people were hunting and protect against intruders, including  other large predators that might prey upon humans.

However, we have to consider these potential domestications in order to understand how man and C. lupus became attached to each other in this way.

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Raccoon dogs are strange dogs. When I say raccoon dogs, I’m not talking about coonhounds. I’m not talking about “Ol’ Blue.”

I am talking about an unsual canid that was originally found only in Asia, but  the Soviets introduced them to Latvia after World War II. Their range expaneded rapidly to encompass a wide range of Europe.

This species is one of those primitive dogs, like the gray fox. And like the gray fox, the raccoon dog can climb trees. However,  it is not as good at it as the gray fox is.

These dogs go into a kind of hibernation during the coldest months of the winter. They go torpid during this time period, just like the true raccoon.

In parts of Europe, especially Germany, both introduced raccoons and introduced raccoon dogs live in the same forests. But they are not that closely related.

If you would like to see one bayed by a Finnish hound, check out the video below:

These animals are a bit of pest in parts of their range. They kill lots of small animals and destroy ground bird’s nests.

Raccoon dogs can be kept as pets in some European countries. However, these are fundamentally wild animals, and they don’t have all the nice traits that make domestic animals so easily to deal with.

The raccoon dog is a strange animal. We don’t have them in North America, so when people see pictures of them, they think they are large raccoons. Or if they hear the term “raccoon dog,” they think of Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s really just another species of wild dog, albeit a rather strange one.

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These maned wolves are unique South American canids. They are creatures of the grasslands and have a wide range in South America. Although they are called wolves, they are actually more closely related the other South American canids, the wolf-like foxes, the short-eared dog, and the bush dog.

They are the only large canid not known to form packs, generally living in loosely bonded pairs that are not often seen together. Unlike wolves, the maned wolf doesn’t form packs to bring down large prey. In fact, they eat lots of fruit in their diet.

They were originally persecuted because they were thought to be a threat to livestock. In reality, they are only a threat to poultry.

Their long legs helps them look over tall grass, similar to the serval cat of Africa.

You can learn more about them here.

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Which of these dogs has a functional body type, one that is designed for maximum health and energy efficiency?

This one?

American show golden:


Or this one?

Field-type golden:


Which is closer to the originals?

The Originals:


Show dog breeders like to think that they’re breeding to an ancient, refined definition of a breed. In the case of the golden retriever, they are not.

I would love to see morbidity and general health survey on working-type goldens versus show type goldens. The dogs I’ve had have all been working type. Life expectancy was 13-14 years. The average life expectancy for goldens in Sweden is 12.6. Most breed infos I’ve seen say 10-12 years for a golden retriever,  except for the Encyclopedia of the Dog  by Bruce Fogle (the original version from 1995). That version says 13-15 years for a golden, which is about my dogs lived. The 2000 edition used the Swedish moribidity data.

I hate to use one of those “appeal to nature” logical fallacies, but compare the body types of those goldens with that of some wild dogs (going from least related to most related to the golden).

A red fox:


A coyote:


A wolf:


A dingo:


Which of the two goldens at the top resembles these wild species most? Nature has taken millions of years to form the dog’s skeletal structure, and in 150 years, we’ve totally wrecked it. And goldens aren’t even the most messed up breed.

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