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Individual Discrimination on the Basis of Urine in Dogs and Wolves

  • Donna S. Brown
  • Robert E. Johnston

Abstract

The importance of olfactory communication among dogs and wolves is renowned, but human beings still rarely fathom how pervasive such communication is. A glimpse into this world is suggested by the observation that members of a typical wolf pack scent mark or inspect a scent mark once every two minutes of the day (Peters and Mech, 1975). The functions of scent marks among dogs and wolves are legion, and may well involve subtleties that humans have not yet imagined. It is however known that dogs can discriminate males from females on the basis of urine odors and that males are preferentially attracted to the odor of urine from estrous as opposed to non-estrous females (Dunbar, 1978). Both naturalistic observations of dogs and wolves and preferences of female dogs for individual males suggest the ability of individuals of both species to recognize other individuals (e.g., Mech, 1970; LeBoeuf, 1967). Such observations also suggest the importance of scent cues, and it has been shown that male dogs can distinguish between their own odor and that of another male (Dunbar and Carmichael, 1981). We are not aware, however, of any proof that individuals can discriminate two other individuals on the basis of odor cues.

Keywords

Canis Lupus Scent Mark Fresh Urine Individual Discrimination Urine Odor 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. Dunbar, I. F., 1978, Olfactory preferences in dogs: the response of male and female beagles to conspecific urine, Biol. Behay., 3: 273.Google Scholar
  2. Dunbar, I. and Carmichael, M., 1981, The response of male dogs to urine from other males, Behay. Neural. Biol., 31: 465.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. LeBoeuf, B. J., 1967, Interindividual associations in dogs, Behaviour, 29: 268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Mech, L. D., 1970, “The Wolf,” Natural History Press, New York. Peters, R. P., and Mech, L. D., 1975, Scent marking in wolves, Amer. Sci., 63: 628.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donna S. Brown
    • 1
  • Robert E. Johnston
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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