when feral dogs and wolves come into contact with each other do they usually interbreed?

I was just re-watching that show the discovery channel did about what would happen if every human on earth vanished. it insisted that dogs would go feral turn into dingo like creatures, then interbreed with wolves until the two species vanished into each other.

I don't know if they usually do - but certainly they can do and there are plenty of anecdotal reports of this happening.

Note that in fact the domestic dog is recognised as a subspecies of the wolf (it is designated Canis lupus familiaris) and there is plenty of evidence that deliberate crossing of (wild) wolves with domestic dogs has gone on during breed development. Distinct breeds of domestic dog have been produced by artificial selection coupled with line breeding to maintain breed-specific traits. If we stopped maintaining them in this way, and let them hybridise with wild wolves then eventually (i..e probably over quite a few generations) they would probably come to resemble something like a dingo/wolf.

Hybridisation between feral dogs and wolves is known in many countries, but is fairly uncommon. Genetic and field studies suggest that cross-breeding in Western Europe is rare, but may occur slightly more frequently in parts of Eastern Europe (http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/img/doi/0354 … 04225M.pdf).

Generally, genetic studies have found little evidence of dog DNA having found its way into the wolf population, even in areas near human habitation, which suggests that interbreeding is very rare, and it is thought that behavioural differences between wolves and dogs may be great enough to prevent much interbreeding occuring (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1 … x/abstract).

Even if humans did disappear, it isn't certain that dogs and wolves would interbreed and vanish into each other - genetic evidence suggests that dogs may have split from wolves as much as 100,000 years ago, and there are significant behavioural differences between dogs and wolves that might keep them apart - feral dogs and dingoes in the wild tend not to hunt or breed cooperatively in family groups in the way that wolves do, but tend to form more loose social groupings. This could act as a barrier to interbreeding, as could the various physiological differences between dogs and wolves (e.g. differences in length of oestrus cycles).