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Wolves and Dogs

between Myth and Science

  • Book
  • © 2022


  • Reviews the behaviour and cognition of the wolf and its domesticated counterpart, the dog
  • Explores different theories about when and how the domestication of wolves might have started
  • Provides fascinating insights into the social systems of wolves and dogs

Part of the book series: Fascinating Life Sciences (FLS)

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Table of contents (11 chapters)


About this book

Various parallels have been drawn between wolves and humans from the perspective of their social organisation. Therefore, studying wolves may well shed light on the evolutionary origins of complex human cognition and, in particular, on the role that cooperation played in its development. Humans closely share their lives with millions of dogs – the domesticated form of wolves. Biologically, wolves and dogs can be considered to be the same species; yet only dogs are suitable living companions in human homes, highlighting the importance of cognitive and emotional differences between the two forms. The behaviour of wolves and dogs largely depends on the environment the animals grew up and live in. This book reviews more than 50 years of research on the differences and similarities of wolves and dogs. Beyond the socio-ecology, the work explores different theories about when and how the domestication of wolves might have started and which behaviours and cognitive abilities might have changed during this process. Readers will discover how these fascinating animals live with their conspecifics in their social groups, how they approach and solve problems in their daily lives and how they see and interact with their human partners.


“For the layperson wishing an enticing introduction to the study of wolves and dogs, this book’s several short, highlighted sections will be key. … While this book is readable by an intelligent wolf-dog enthusiast with a dictionary at hand, Wolves and Dogs: between Myth and Science is most approachable by the serious aca­demic. … The book … introduces the reader to basic information about wolves, then takes a deep academic dive into findings and questions around many topics … .” (Nancy jo Tubbs, Nancy joInternational Wolf, Spring, 2023)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Domestication Lab, Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria

    Friederike Range, Sarah Marshall-Pescini

About the authors

Friederike Range received her Master in Animal Physiology at the University of Bayreuth (1998) and her PhD at the Dept. of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, USA (2004). This was followed by post-doctoral fellowships at the Konrad Lorenz Forschungsstelle at Grünau (2004-2005), and at the Dept. of Neurobiology and Cognition, University of Vienna (2005-2008), both Austria. In 2011, Friederike Range moved to the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, where she habilitated and in 2018 became an Associate Professor and head of the Domestication Lab. 2007 she co-founded the Clever Dog Lab, 2008 the Wolf Science Center. Both labs are embedded today in the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and have developed into internationally highly regarded research groups.  Friederike Range is interested in the evolution of mind and her research focuses on social behavior and cognitive abilities of non-human animals. Her early research career concentrated mainly onprimates, but she is now primarily focused on investigating dogs and their closest wild-living relatives, wolves.

Sarah Marshall-Pescini graduated in Psychology from St Andrews University (1998) and then went on to do her PhD (2003) at the same University working on social learning in children and chimpanzees. After the PhD, she returned to Italy, her home country, working at Milan University for 8 years, setting up a dog cognition lab. Since 2013 she has joined the team at the Wolf Science Centre and later the Domestication Lab at Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology (Veterinary University of Vienna), where she now works as a senior scientist. Since 2016 she co-supervises a field site studying free-ranging dogs in Morocco and another studying wild wolves in the Italian Apennines. Her research focuses on the social behaviour of wolves and dogs.

Bibliographic Information

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