The relationship of adult morphology and early social signalling of the domestic dog (Canis familiaris)

Behav Processes. 2009 Jul;81(3):376-82. doi: 10.1016/j.beproc.2009.03.019.


Most research on dog communication has focused on either the use of lupine signals during intra-specific interactions or has studied single-breed groups, with little regard to the effects of morphological change in the dog on their communication. This oversight ignores the fact that most modern dog breeds do not resemble the wolf and thus they have lost the ability to send some signals and may encounter communication problems. Using puppies in 40 litters from 32 breeds, we investigated the relationship between the frequencies of behaviours (social signals), and the adult morphology of these dogs. Despite a high level of precision, no statistically significant relationships were found between the deviation of the adult morphology from the ancestral lupine morphotype and early social signalling in the dog. We concluded that any communication loss due to morphological deviation, is not compensated for by increasing the frequency of signalling behaviours at this age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging*
  • Animals
  • Dogs / anatomy & histology*
  • Dogs / psychology*
  • Litter Size
  • Motor Activity
  • Social Behavior*
  • Species Specificity
  • Vocalization, Animal*