Wolves happen to like gambling more than dogs, and if you thought this was some kind of metaphorical discussion revolving around human personalities, you’d be wrong. We mean that wolves, the animal, like gambling more than dogs, the animal. Confused? Don’t be; we’re about to explain how a group of scientists discovered that wild wolves prefer to take risks, in the form of gambling, more than domesticated canines.
The story begins in the Messerli Research Institute, at the Veterinary University of Vienna. A group of veterinary scientists went about devising a way to determine if canines would prefer a guaranteed meal, be it a boring meal, or rather take a risk on a much tastier meal, but with an added 50% risk that the tastier meal would turn out to be a bust. Or, a stone, as opposed to a tasty steak.
The experiment was designed in as simple a fashion as possible. The animals were trained over months to understand that under one bowl was a guaranteed pellet, and under the other a 50% chance of a steak, or a 50% chance of a stone. The animals were then allowed to indicate, over a period of time, if they would rather have the pellet, or take a risk with the steak. If the steak turned out to be a stone, they missed a mealtime.
Animals In The Wild
It’s first important to understand that both the wolves and the dogs used in the experiment were raised in identical conditions. That is to say, both the wolves and the dogs were domesticated. So, any distinct differences that were bought to the surface via the experiment would be a result of the animal’s instinct. Wolves, of course, are the root of all canine pets, but a great deal less diluted, as a species. All household dogs are the result of breeding, and crossbreeding, wolf species, to create the furry friends we known and love today. Yes, a Maltese poodle is descended from wolves.
The result of the experiment, very simply put, was astonishing. It turns out that wolves loves to gamble, but household dogs are not so much a fan of the 50/50 reward steak system. Once the dogs learned that food was a guaranteed option, even if it was a pellet as opposed to a steak, they went for the pellet option almost exclusively.
Wolves, on the other hand, preferred the risk/reward system nearly as much. But does this mean that wolves are into gambling? Sort of. It means that wolves, as a species, are more comfortable with the idea of taking a huge risk, if it means a satisfactory reward. It is, for lack of a better term, in their blood. When living in the world wolves would take risks for almost every meal, and so it stands to reason that they are still willing to take risks, if it means a tasty steak, as opposed to a dry pellet.
The final statistics of the experiment were as follows, keeping in mind that 7 dogs, and 7 wolves were allowed to choose between the guaranteed pellet, and 50/50 steak, a total log 80 times.
- Wolves took the 50/50 risk 80% of the time
- Dogs took the 50/50 risk only 58% of the time
- In other words, three quarters of the wolves preferred to take a risk
- Only just over half of dogs would take the same risk
Relating To People
So it goes without saying that wolves are risk takers, and this is likely part of their natural instinct. When relating the same experiment to people, one can only guess what the overall results would be. That is to say, how many people would take a risk for a bigger reward, over a guaranteed smaller prize? The most obvious comparison to draw is in casino games, and how people tend to take risks where reward is not guaranteed.
In casino games the general rule of thumb is that the bigger the risk, the greater the reward. Playing a risky game in a casino, however, is not considered the smart way to go about leaving with full pockets. In the long run, casino games always benefit from safe play. There will always be those, however, who will jump at the chance of taking a massive risk, if the reward is substantial enough. You may relate this to wolves and dogs, but a wolf never had to worry about keeping the lights on, and paying the rent on time.
As far as wolves and dogs go in the casino world, it seems that the best approach is to borrow a little instinct from both the dog and the wolf. A careful casino game player will take risks when there is room to take risks, but focus on playing a safe game that keeps the bank balance in the green. Never forget that the smartest canine species is, in fact, a domestic dog descended from wolves; the Border Collie. The Border Collie isn’t a pure breed wolf, but he sure is smart!