Paedomorphosis affects agonistic visual signals of domestic dogs

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Many of the structural modifications of modern breeds of domestic dog,Canis familiariscan be explained by changes in the rate of development, during domestication from the wolf,C. lupusThese changes have been dominated by paedomorphosis, or underdevelopment, so that the adult passes through fewer growth stages and resembles a juvenile stage of its ancestor. In this paper the effects of these processes on the signalling ability of 10 breeds selected for their degree of physical dissimilarity to the wolf are examined. The number of ancestral dominant and submissive behaviour patterns used during signalling within single-breed groups ranged from two (Cavalier King Charles spaniel) to 15 (Siberian husky), and this correlated positively with the degree to which the breed physically resembles the wolf, as assessed by a panel of 14 dog behaviour counsellors. When the signals displayed by each breed were grouped according to the stage of wolf development in which they first appear, those breeds with the smallest repertoires were found to draw most of their signals from those appearing before 20 days of age in the wolf, suggesting that physical paedomorphism has been accompanied by behavioural paedomorphism.