The domestic dog is a domesticated grey wolf plus thousands of years of evolution as a domestic animal plus selective breeding. We all know that the wild ancestor of the domestic dog is the modestly-sized wolf from Asia. I am thinking of the Indian wolf and not the large, thick-coated wolves from the north. You’d think that they would bark in a similar way. The sound and style should be pretty much the same for the dog and wolf, but it is not. The videos on this page demonstrates the differences and they are quite pronounced.
Relative to the domestic dog, the wolf bark is quite unassuming and modest. Wolf barking is not particularly loud or common. In Dr Desmond Morris’s words it is “monosyllabic”. He describes it as a “staccato wuff sound”. It is repeated but it does not develop into a machine gun sound.
In short, it is less impressive than the dog bark that we know well. You’d think it would be the other way around. It is hard to believe that such a fearsome predator barks so politely. The truth is that they are not as fearsome as people make out. It is a distorted public image generated by people which has resulted in their persecution.
It seems that YouTube won’t let me embed the video here. Please click on the link. It opens in a new tab so you stay on the page.
The reason why the domestic dog barks like a mishandled machine gun is because of thousands of years of selective breeding. Clearly this style of barking is not inherited from their wild ancestor. It sounds like rau-rau-rau…rau-rau-rau-rau…rau…rau-rau-rau..repeated.
Selective breeding for barking dogs
It appears that ancient dog owners, using their pets as guard dogs, informally selected the best barkers. Over centuries and longer the best barkers where bred with each other and probably sold as excellent guard dogs where they were bred some more. This ability to bark loundly and repeatedly spread within all dogs so that nowadays it is ubiquitous in all dog breeds and random bred dogs. Except for some rare breeds: the Basenji and the African Barkless dog which escaped the trend. The barkless dog was specifically developed as a non-barker to hunt silently in ancient Egypt 5,000 years ago. It has never been treated as a guard dog and therefore escaped the inheritance of the rapid and loud bark.
Note: selective breeding is choosing the type of animal you desire and mating him/her with another dog with traits that you also desire. You then mate their offspring with the parents if need be. You fix traits this way. It is inbreeding and is problematic.
Note 2: Videos can disappear sometimes because they are removed from YouTube. Sorry if that has happened.