Why are dogs so friendly? Their genes are to „blame”
One of the reasons we like dogs so much is that the feeling is mutual. Most dogs greet us with wagging tails, waiting eagerly for some human companionship. A wolf, on the other hand, would not be so friendly. Than how come dogs evolved from wolves?
Somewhere, along the way, a genetic change affected dogs, making them quite different from wolves, according to researchers from Oregon State University. They compared domesticated dogs with wolves and their social interactions with humans. The study was published in the journal Scientific Advances.
“It was once thought that during domestication dogs had evolved an advanced form of social cognition that wolves lacked,” Monique Udell, animal scientist at Oregon State and lead co-author of the study, said in a statement. “This new evidence would suggest that dogs instead have a genetic condition that can lead to an exaggerated motivation to seek social contact compared to wolves.”
Genes that made dogs particularly ongoing and gregarious were selected for as dogs evolved from their wolf ancestors, according to MNN. Wolf descendants became friendlier and friendlier, thus paving the way for dog domestication.
For the study, the behaviour of 18 domestic dogs and 10 gray wolves that live in captivity were observed. They underwent several tests that involved their problem-solving and sociability tasks. For the first test, the animals received a box containing a sausage, while a person was present. The dogs were more likely to look at the person than open the box, whereas wolves were more likely to open the box, despite the person being present there. Another test involved a person sitting down in a marked circle, at first calling the animal by its name and encouraging contact and than sitting quietly and ignoring the animal by looking at the floor. Both the wolves and dogs approached the person quickly, but the wolves wandered away, losing interest after just a few seconds.
“We’ve done a lot of research that shows that wolves and dogs can perform equally well on social cognition tasks,” Udell said. “Where the real difference seems to lie is the dog’s persistent gazing at people and a desire to seek prolonged proximity to people, past the point where you expect an adult animal to engage in this behavior.”