Degree of Behavioral Neoteny Differentiates Canid Polymorphs


School of Natural Science, Hampshire College, Amherst, MA 01002

Department of Zoology, University of Florida, Gainsville, Florida 32605

Institute of Animal Behavior, Rutgers University, Newark, NJ 07162

210 W 85th St. New York, NY 10024

Department of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003

Department of English, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, U.S.A.


As with juvenile wolves or coyotes, adult livestock conducting dogs displayed the first-half segment of a functional predatory system of motor patterns and did not express play or social bonding toward sheep; whereas, like wolf or coyote pups, adult livestock protecting dogs displayed sequences of mixed social, submissive, play and investigatory motor patterns and rarely expressed during ontogeny (even when fully adult) predatory behaviors. The most parsimonious explanation of our findings is that behavioral differences in the two types of livestock dogs are a case of selected differential retardation (neoteny) of ancestral motor pattern development.