Are Dogs Related to Seals? Science Answers the Ultimate Question

And wow is it good.

In recent years, various memes and videos have suggested Earth’s very best boys — dogs — might have marine counterparts. With their expressive grins and friendly dispositions, land dogs and water dogs, aka seals, don’t just look alike — a wildlife biologist tells Inverse they’re actually kind of related, evolutionarily speaking.

Let’s look at the obvious evidence. Dogs are very good. So are seals. They are both so uncannily good that apparently, many people are convinced they’re almost the same thing.

A real predictive search on Google.


This 2015 video of a seal randomly befriending a dog on the beach is another convincing piece of evidence that the two share some sort of common ground, taxonomically. Look at the seal’s comforting flap resting atop the dog’s fur, the look of contentment in the pup’s eyes. They’re just too happy and pure to be strangers.

Technically, the many, many inquisitive people who think seals are water pups aren’t entirely wrong. They’re also far from being right.

“Dogs and seals are in the same suborder, Caniforma, under the order Carnivora” Imogene Cancellare, a wildlife biologist at the University of Delaware, says. “Dogs and seals are not in the same family, however, and are not closely related. The family that compromises seals, Pinnipedia, split from other caniforms around 50 million years ago.”

Upon further inspection, there are some pretty obvious phenotypical distinctions between seals and dogs. For one thing, dogs use their four legs to move around. Since seals have no legs, they maneuver themselves using a move I can only describe as “boing boing boing” on their bellies.

“Seals have dog-like skulls and dogs have seal-like mournful stares,” Cancellare adds.

There’s really not a lot you can do with this information, but we hope it made you smile. Maybe you’ll need it for Trivial Pursuit one day. Your parents will love this news. In any case, we hope you’re a happier, healthier person knowing that seals and dogs are kind of related.

The world is bad, but its good boys remain good, both on and off land.

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