Alpha Dog

aka Alpha Male, Alpha Chimp (Primate). In social animals, the alpha is the individual in the community with the highest rank (status, power). Where one male and one female fulfill this role, they are referred to as the alpha pair (the term varies when several females fulfill this role – it is extremely rare among mammals for several males to fulfill this role with one female). Other animals in the same social group may exhibit deference or other symbolic signs of respect particular to their species towards the alpha. The alpha animals are given preference to be the first to eat and the first to mate; among some species they are the only animals in the pack (Tribe) allowed to mate. Other animals in the community are usually killed or ousted if they violate this rule.

But not true of Wolves: One of the outdated pieces of information is the concept of the alpha wolf. “Alpha” implies competing with others and becoming top dog by winning a contest or battle. However, most wolves who lead packs achieved their position simply by mating and producing pups, which then became their pack. In other words they are merely breeders, or parents, and that’s all we call them today, the “breeding male,” “breeding female,” or “male parent,” “female parent,” or the “adult male” or “adult female.” In the rare packs that include more than one breeding animal, the “dominant breeder” can be called that, and any breeding daughter can be called a “subordinate breeder.”

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