Individual Discrimination on the Basis of Urine in Dogs and Wolves
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.
KeywordsCanis Lupus Scent Mark Fresh Urine Individual Discrimination Urine Odor
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