The wolf genes are calling

In an expansive mood, I’ll actually put up a d*g video today. This one, sent by reader Anne-Marie (who owns a German shepherd), shows the wolf genes in a d*g suddenly activated by an environmental stimulus:


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    Atavism in action?

  2. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Cute! Sometimes my dog goes outside and howls. She can probably hear coyotes in the distance, lost to the inferior human ear. She looks embarrassed if she sees you watching & stops howling.

  3. Amy
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    This dog has so many toys, such a spoiled baby. Lovely.

  4. rickflick
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    We’ve used this trait as an approach to family bonding. We humans start howling and the d*g will quickly join in. After a while we walk around each other and wag our “tails”. We stop short of Butt sniffing. We do manage to stay harmonious and close-knit.

    • Alpha Neil
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

      Dry humping is a great way to establish dominance in a group.

      • Christopher
        Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        I”m dog-sitting at the moment, and yes, the dog is French, but, does he really have to be so, well, amoureux?

        • Alpha Neil
          Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:04 pm | Permalink


        • gravelinspector-Aidan
          Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          What’s the name of the cartoon skunk? Pepe le Phew, or something like that?
          And you’re complaining about a dog?

          • Christopher
            Posted July 22, 2016 at 7:18 pm | Permalink

            have you ever tried to type with a dog attempting to hump your arm? it’s not pleasant.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the tip; I’ll give it a try at the next board meeting.

    • Christopher
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

      I used to get my two mutts, Duke and Otis howling with me. It was great fun, they’d get so worked up, yipping and howling, who knows what the neighbors thought was going on. Sadly, Dookie died quite suddenly and unexpectedly last January, and Otis has gone mostly deaf (yet he can still hear a fork touch a plate or a bag of chips open) so it’s pretty silent and sedate these days. Neither of them would react to tv though, except a doorbell, which sent them straight into defense mode.

  5. Barry Lyons
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    I love how the dog looks in the direction of the camera after the first howl from the cartoon. It’s a “Wait… what”? look. Great.

  6. Posted July 22, 2016 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    I wonder if the genetic variant for howling could be found by comparing the sequenced genomes of a wolf, a dog breed that markedly howls, and a dog breed that rarely howls. Look for variants in brain-related proteins in genes where there is a correspondence between wolf and marked the howler but a difference in the seldom howler. (I’ve read that all dogs can howl but know that some seldom seem to.) Perhaps the seldom howlers have reduced expression at the responsible locus.

    Anyway, in googling about howling, I found another video. And because Jerry started it and because I love Chihuahuas, here’s one that made me smile.

    • Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      I wrote: “there is a correspondence between wolf and marked the howler”

      But I meant: “there is a correspondence between wolf and marked howlers”

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      The first comment on that video was “What have we done to wolves?”



    • Dee
      Posted July 22, 2016 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

      When we were kids, my brothers and I would sit on the front porch with our chihuahua (his name was Tuco, from the spaghetti western) and howl. He would watch us like we were crazy, then throw his head back and join in. We laughed ourselves silly.

  7. MaryL
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Our GSD’s were great howlers; this took me back. Thanks.

  8. Stephen Barnard
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I had a malamute that would howl whenever he heard a siren, and I could get him going by howling myself. Like wolves, he never barked. I often hear coyotes howling and it drives Deets crazy.

  9. Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  10. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    Oh, sorry, I’ve come to the wrong site. Can someone please direct me to the site with the kittehs?



  11. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 22, 2016 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Bet that Shepherd sings along with Warren Zevon, too.

  12. Chris Moffatt
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 5:23 am | Permalink

    My samoyed’s alternate name was “sings to freight trains”. I was living out in the country not far from a RR crossing so he had lots to sing about. Police sirens and any other such noises didn’t interest him. When he was in full voice it reminded me much of Algonquin Park nights.

  13. Mike
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Our last Dog a Border Collie ,if he thought that we had left him alone in the House, would howl just like that, probably trying to find out where we It isnt too surprising ,after all they are all just Wolves under the skin.

  14. lutesuite
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 7:22 am | Permalink

    A similar video, though this is a different kind of vocalizing:

  15. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    A black lab I had was once outside when she heard a train and coyotes at the same time. It completely freaked her out so I used to joke that the coyote train was coming. I wonder what image she conjured up in her brain to match that weird combination of sounds!

  16. W.Benson
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

    My black tom Moe at night, when he comes in from prowling, walks about the porch wailing low, and Max, my German sheppard, joins in a duet with blood-curdling howls.

  17. Stephen Barnard
    Posted July 23, 2016 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Aren’t wolf genes and dog genes the same thing? They’re the same species.

    Has anyone ever compared the dog genome to the wolf genome? It seems like an eminently sensible project and must have been done. If it hasn’t, it would require the resources of a computer-savvy high school science project, because the data must already exist for many individuals.

    My question is whether dogs have any new genes that wolves don’t, or are the differences in phenotypes solely to to regulatory effects or gene frequencies or whatever? And if they do have novel genes, where did they come from? Mutations of wolf genes?

    I’d start with the pariah dog, which isn’t a breed per se, but an archetypical form of semi domesticated dogs.

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