Wolves and dogs both have the same number of teeth; young pups have 28 deciduous teeth, while adults have 42 permanent teeth. However, the teeth of wolves are often considerably longer than those of domestic dogs. In fact, the large canine teeth of wolves may exceed 1 inch in length. Additionally, some dental problems, such as the development of extra teeth, are more common in dogs than wolves.
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In addition to their massive dentition, wolves may be capable of biting harder than dogs are. However, due to the difficulties involved in measuring bite force consistently and accurately, and the variety of different techniques scientists use to measure bite forces, the data collected by scientists are often at odds with each other.
For example, both the California Wolf Center and the Wolf Conservation Center assert that wolves can produce about 1,500 pounds of pressure per square inch, which the organizations argue, is twice the jaw strength of a German shepherd. However, the International Wolf Center contends that wolves are capable of applying 398 pounds of pressure per square inch, while domestic dogs only generate about 320 pounds per square inch. In a 2009 study, lead researcher Jennifer Ellis sedated a group of dogs and then forced their jaws to clench via electrical stimulation. After analyzing the collected data, she found that mastiffs could generate over 550 pounds per square inch.
- International Wolf Center: Wolf FAQ’s
- Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary: Physical Differences Between Wolves and Dogs?
- Colyer's Variations and Diseases of the Teeth of Animals; A. E. W. Miles and Caroline Grigson
- California Wolf Center: Wolf Facts
- Wolf Conservation Center: FAQ
- Psychology Today: Dog Bite Force: Myths, Misinterpretations and Realities