Unraveling the Differences Between Wolves and Pet Dogs

Unraveling the Differences Between Wolves and Pet Dogs

Unraveling the Differences Between Wolves and Pet Dogs


There’s nothing more fascinating than learning about dogs and dog breeds. We all know that dogs are descended from wolves, but what we don’t always realize is how much domestic dogs have changed since their wild ancestors. In this blog post, I’ll explore the differences between dogs and wolves regarding diet, digestion, evolution, and puppies. Let’s dive into this mystery of man’s best friend!


  1. The Wolf
  2. The Dog
  3. Diet and Digestion Differences
  4. Evolution of Dogs From Wolves
  5. Lets Talk Puppies
  6. Conclusion
  7. Authors Bio

The Wolf - Canis Lupus

The Wolf - Canis Lupus

Facts About Wolves

  1. Wolves are the largest canine species, with males typically weighing up to 80 pounds and females averaging around 55 pounds.
  2. Wolves travel in packs that may contain up to 12 individuals.
  3. A single wolf can cover more than 15 miles daily when traveling for food or territory.
  4. A wolf’s diet consists mostly of large animals such as deer, elk, and moose.
  5. Wolves have a keen sense of smell up to 100 times greater than humans.
  6. There are two main species of wolves: the gray wolf and the red wolf. However, there are also several subspecies within each species.
  7. Russia is believed to have the largest wolf population in the world, with estimates ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 wolves. Wolf populations can also be found in many other countries, including Canada, the United States, and parts of Europe and Asia.

The Dog - Canis Lupus Familiaris

The Dog - Canis Lupus Familiaris

Facts About Dogs

  1. Pet dogs are the most varied animal species, with over 400 distinct breeds.
  2. The average weight of the domestic dog is much smaller than their wild cousins, typically ranging from 15-100 pounds.
  3. Domesticated dogs have developed different temperaments and behaviors based on breed type or purpose.
  4. Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and live in homes with families worldwide.
  5. The domestic dog has an incredible sense of smell, but it's not as powerful as wolves.
  6. There are over 300 recognized dog breeds worldwide.
  7. The Labrador Retriever is often considered the world's most popular domestic dog breed. They are known for their friendly temperament, loyalty, and trainability, which make them great family pets and working dogs.
  8. According to the American Pet Products Association, it is estimated that there are approximately 63.4 million households in the United States that own at least one dog as a pet. This translates to around 90 million pet dogs in total across the country.

Why Are Wolves and Dogs Called Canines?

A dog is called a canine because it belongs to the family of animals known as Canidae, which includes dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals. This family has evolved over millions of years, and dogs are believed to have been domesticated from an early ancestor of the grey wolf around 15,000 years ago. Dogs share many physical and behavioral traits with their wild relatives, such as a strong pack mentality and hunting instincts.

Diet and Digestion Differences

Diet and Digestion Differences between Dogs and Wolves

Wolves and dogs are primarily carnivorous, meaning their diet consists mostly of meat. However, they are also known to eat some plant matter on occasion, such as berries or grass. While they are not true omnivores like humans who require a balanced mix of both plant and animal-based foods in their diet, dogs can benefit from small amounts of fruits and vegetables as a source of vitamins and fiber. It is important to note that wolves in the wild do not typically have access to significant amounts of plant matter in their diet.


While dogs and wolves may have similar diets, there are some key differences between what dogs eat and digest versus wild wolves. An adult wolf’s diet typically consists mostly of large ungulates like deer, elk, or moose, often hunted in packs. A wolf's diet is predominantly made up of animal protein and fat, with few carbohydrates.

Wolves have much stronger stomachs than dogs, which allows them to digest bones and other tough materials that dogs may struggle with. Wolves also produce more enzymes in their saliva, allowing them to break down food faster and absorb nutrients more efficiently. Dogs take longer to digest food because of their weaker digestive system.

Domestic dogs can live off a variety of different foods, including wet food, dry kibble, raw ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts, as well as table scraps from their owners. Additionally, dogs have shorter digestive systems than wolves so they can process food more quickly and efficiently. Despite dogs’ evolution from wolves, dogs are not adapted to digest diets high in carbs.

Do Wolves fast? Wolves do not fast intentionally, but they may go for extended periods without eating if food is scarce. They are opportunistic hunters and will eat whenever they can find food. However, during winter months, when prey is harder to find, wolves have been known to go several days or even weeks without a meal.

It is generally not recommended to fast your pet dog unless it is for medical reasons and under the guidance of a veterinarian. Dogs require a consistent supply of nutrients to maintain their health, and fasting can lead to serious health problems such as hypoglycemia, liver disease, and muscle wasting. If you are considering fasting your dog for any reason, it is best to consult with a veterinarian first.

Evolution of Dogs From Wolves

Evolution of Dogs From Wolves

Dogs have evolved through the ages from wolves, with dogs being domesticated about 30,000 years ago. During this time, dogs adapted to human settlements and were selected for traits that would make them better companions, such as friendliness and trainability. This evolution also led dogs to become more adaptable to eating different types of food than wild wolves.

There are three main factors in the evolution of dogs: natural selection, artificial selection, and hybridization. Natural selection is where dogs are bred with other dogs better suited to survive in their environment, while artificial selection is where humans intentionally choose dogs with specific traits they want. Hybridization is when different species of animals crossbreed together – wolves and coyotes may

It’s important to understand the differences between dogs and wolves to provide your pup with the best possible care. Wolves have adapted to survive in the wild, whereas dogs rely heavily on their owners for food, shelter, and companionship. Knowing this can help you decide what diet is best for your dog and how much exercise they need daily.

Let's Talk Puppies

Let's Talk Puppies

It’s not always the case that dogs have larger litters than wolves. The litter size can vary depending on several factors, including the breed of dog or wolf species, environmental conditions, and availability of resources like food and shelter. Generally speaking, domesticated dogs tend to have smaller litters than their wild counterparts due to selective breeding practices over many generations. Wolves in the wild may have larger litters due to the need for survival and continuation of their species.

The weaning period for wolves and dogs can vary depending on several factors. Generally, the weaning period begins around 3-4 weeks of age and lasts for about 6-8 weeks. During this time, the mother will slowly introduce solid food to her pups while still nursing them. As the pups become more independent and start eating more solid food, they will naturally nurse less frequently until eventually fully weaned. However, it's important to note that each litter is different, and the weaning process may be longer or shorter depending on various factors such as the size of the litter, availability of food, and environmental conditions.

The lifespan of a wolf and a pet dog can vary depending on several factors, including breed, size, and overall health. Generally speaking, wolves in the wild have an average lifespan of 6-8 years, while wolves in captivity can live up to 16 years or more. On the other hand, small dogs tend to live longer than larger breeds, with an average lifespan of 10-13 years. Larger dog breeds typically have a shorter lifespan, averaging around 7-10 years. However, there are many exceptions to these generalizations, and individual dogs and wolves may live longer or shorter lives based on their specific circumstances.


Through domestication, dogs have adapted to live in close quarters with humans and other dogs, as well as develop different physical characteristics such as floppy ears or shorter muzzles that are better suited for living indoors. However, dogs aren’t adapted to digest diets high in carbs, so it’s important to understand their differences from wolves when providing your pup with the best possible care.


Good luck on your journey of discovery with Man’s Best Friend!

Waggy Tails! Paul

Authors Bio

Paul Raybould is the Co-Founder and CEO of KetoPet and Visionary Pet Foods. Paul is an experienced dog dad and a passionate advocate for dogs everywhere. He has a deep understanding of dogs’ dietary needs and the importance of providing them with the best nutrition possible. When not working helping dogs everywhere have a long, healthy life, Paul enjoys spending time with his wife Susan and two rescue standard poodles, Freya and Coconut.


The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice. If you have any medical concerns about your dog, please consult a qualified veterinarian.

 dogs and wolves



Back to blog

Leave a comment