Dogs Hold Grudges While Wolves Kiss And Make Up


Rachel Baxter

Copy Editor & Staff Writer

Don't look at me. WilleeCole Photography/Shutterstock

When doggy chums have a spat they’re not very good at making up, according to a new study published in Royal Society Open Science. In fact, despite having more fights, wolves are much better peacemakers, suggesting that our furry BFFs have become more and more grudgeful over time.  

A team of researchers put together four wolf packs and four dog packs, each containing between two and five members. They then observed the animals’ interactions, making note of any aggressive, dominant, submissive, or affiliative behaviors. Affiliative behavior was particularly important after aggressive encounters as it suggested that the dogs or wolves were saying sorry and making peace with their buddies.


Overall, the wolf packs experienced more aggressive interactions than the dogs, with the researchers recording a total of 419 – nearly one an hour. About 60 percent of aggressive interactions were viewed as highly aggressive.

The dogs, on the other hand, only initiated 55 aggressive interactions. However, a whopping 86 percent of these were classed as highly aggressive. In fact, three dogs had to be removed from the study for being too belligerent.

Dogs were also pretty frosty after they’d been in a fight. In the wolf packs, 42 percent of fights were followed by affiliative behaviors between victim and aggressor. For dogs, this was only 20 percent. Dogs were also much less likely to spend time in close proximity to their opponent after an unpleasant interaction.

“This result indicates that dog opponents do not seek an opportunity to reconcile but rather choose to avoid each other,” the researchers wrote in their study.

Sorry, dude. Chris Alcock/Shutterstock 

Therefore, dogs are aggressive to their pals less often than wolves, but aren’t very good at making up, instead holding a grudge and avoiding their opponent. But why?

Dogs were domesticated from wolves a very long time ago, and the domestication process has certainly affected both their looks and personalities. But it seems it has also affected their social skills. While domestic dogs are often sociable with one another, they are not as highly social as wolves, which live together in packs of up to 15 and depend on one another when it comes to things like hunting large animals and looking after their pups.

To maintain pack cohesion, it is essential that wolves reconcile fights, and doing this benefits both the individuals involved and the group as a whole. Many domestic dogs do not live in packs and rely on their owners rather than one another for things like food, so they’ve simply lost some of this pack mentality over time.

The researchers point out that their study is limited because all the packs were artificially put together. Therefore, more natural packs made up mainly of family members might behave a little differently. Nevertheless, the findings still provide a fascinating insight into the social lives of both domestic dogs and their untamed relatives.


To find out more about dogs’ extraordinary transition from ancient wolves to man’s best friend, click here.


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  • domestication,

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  • cooperation,

  • reconciliation,

  • fights