This video of Dunder the German Shepherd has been delighting people everywhere. One of the most striking things about it is how wolf-like he looks by the end. As the always fascinating Temple Grandin explains, domesticated dogs are essentially wolf puppies who never grow up into full-grown wolves. From her excellent Animals in Translation:
Humans have neotenized dogs: without realizing it, humans have bred dogs to stay immature for their entire lives. In the wild, baby wolves have floppy ears and blunt noses, and the grown-ups have upright ears and long noses. Adult dogs look more like wolf puppies than like wolf adults and act more like wolf puppies than wolf adults, too. That's because dogs are wolf puppies: genetically, dogs are juvenile wolves....
[D]ogs stop developing emootionally and behaviorally at the wolf puppy equivalent of thirty days. A grown-up German shepherd can do every aggressive behavior a thirty-day-old wolf can do, but nothing beyond that age.
The only domestic dog capable of more full-grown wolf behavior, Grandin explains, is the husky, "which looks a lot like a wolf." A Chihuahua, meanwhile, "never advances past the wolf puppy equivalent of twenty days of age." You can read more here.
Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Ann Arbor, Michigan. His last article for Ideas was about choosing Congress by lottery.
Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.
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Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."
Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.
Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.