[quote=Paco]Domestic dogs and feral dogs seem to be garbage disposals that can thrive on a wider variety of foods than their wild counterparts, especially wolves. I just wish someone could explain why.[/quote]
I'll give it a try to explain why domestic dogs thrive on a wider variety of foods than their wild counterparts. Dogs already live a long time together with humans. Depending on the source already for 10 000 - 30 000. No matter what the origin was (Wolf, etc.) the dogs living with us lived different lives than their wild relatives. For food they were now mostly dependent on what humans provided and spilled. Hence the fact that meat and animal protein was a luxury for most humans for a long period of time and still is in large parts of the world people would not be very keen on providing this precious food to their four legged friends. In stead they would have been provided with food items which were readily available and in plenty supply. Most parts of slaugthered animals would have been used for personal consumption which in fact meant meant all parts. Again today we are spoiled with the prime cuts but people in the past ate almost the entire animal including tongue, organs, marrow (soup). This was not a choice of taste but one of scarcity. The dogs would have been provided with the parts that remained which meant bones which were cooked clean, etc. Food items which were readily available were usually grains, potato's etc.
Typically stuff that the dogs wild cousins would not eat in large amounts. With this in mind selection jumps in. Individual dogs which had a need for high animal protein diets would not have done well. Dogs which had a bigger tolerance for low quality food would have performed better and probably lived longer. The low tolerance dogs probably have less chance to breed due to shorter life span and not being selected for breeding by the human owners. (you won't breed with a dog in bad condition / sickly life and or high feeding demand.) Over time this meant that the average tolerance for low quality foods and a larger amount of food items in dogs increased resulting in your observation that dogs can thrive on a wider variety of foods than their wild counterparts. By the way With this I do not mean that low quality / low animal protein food is the right food for dogs. It just gives an explanation why dogs can manage better than their wild counterparts on these diets. Another similar thing People look at the wolf's diet as an example of what a dog should need. But who says that the diet wolves eat in the wild is the right one.
Life in the wild is tough for wolves. They cannot shop for the right nutrients (and how should they know?) they simply go for the easiest prey and shop for calories. Also which wolf would you take as an outgoing position. There are various populations of wolves and their used to be a lot more. All had their own diets. Typically wolves in the North prey on larger animals (and are also bigger)than their southern relatives. Typically wolves are highly adaptable like us. Who says what a certain wolf or wolf population is eating is the right diet? Its like debating whether Chinese food is better than Italian. Both diets both have their strong points as their weak points but neither is the perfect diet. We all know that McDonalds isn't the most healthiest food for us and the same principle counts for dogs. But who says that high quality commercial food is bad for a dog or any other type of food.
We still know so little about our own diet let alone the dogs diet. So why all this complacency about what everybody is feeding their dog. Who says you do it right and another person wrong? We still know so little though we think the opposite. There are more roads leading to Rome so I would say that if what you are feeding your dog fits your wallet and lifestyle and the dog is doing well what's the point? You can still learn more on these forums but keep in mind there is no totally right way of feeding your dog.