Wolf: Key Facts

Do you know why wolves howl? Or perhaps you’re wondering where they live in the world, what types of habitat they prefer, or how many species there are. Keep reading! In this article, we’ll discuss these wolf key facts and more. 

Quick Facts About Wolves

Scientific NameCanidae
Number of Species2 to 4
Number of Subspecies12 to 20
Physical DescriptionWorld’s largest non-domestic canine. Wolves have large, pointed ears, a rounded face with a long, pronounced snout, and shaggy fur in a variety of shades of gray, red, brown, black, and white. They are long and slender yet powerfully built and have long, shaggy tails.
DistributionScattered throughout parts of North America, Europe, and Asia.
HabitatCan live in a variety of habitats, including mountains, forests, arctic regions, tundra, deserts, and grasslands.
Size– Length: 4 to 6 ½ feet
– Height: 26 to 32 inches
– Weight: 70 to 150 pounds
Average Lifespan6 to 8 years
DietOpportunistic carnivores; common foods include:
– Ungulates such as deer, elk, and moose
– Other mammals
– Fish
– Birds
– Insects
Endangered?Yes, in some regions

What is a Wolf?

A wolf is a member of the canine species. It is the largest and most powerful canine in the world.

Wolves used to be one of the most widespread mammals, but their numbers have drastically diminished over time due to human interference and the destruction of their habitat. They are now found in scattered regions throughout North America, Europe, and Asia.

There are two main species of wolf, the gray wolf and the red wolf. Some scientists also recognize the Ethiopian wolf and the maned wolf as separate species.

Scientists disagree about the number of wolf subspecies. According to the International Wolf Center, there may be as many as 24 subspecies of the gray wolf in North America alone, or as few as four.

Wolves live in packs. They are carnivores that can eat up to 19 percent of their total body weight in a single feeding.

Wolf Pack Social Structure

Each wolf pack is composed of a mating pair of wolves and their offspring. Wolves typically have about five pups per breeding season, and the pups usually stay with their parents for up to three years before leaving to find mates and form their own packs.

To learn more about the wolf pack social arrangement, check out the following video:

How Do Wolves Communicate?

Wolves are known for the eerie howling noises they make. Each wolf has its own unique howl that other wolves can recognize, much as humans all have distinct voices.

Wolves communicate over long distances by howling to each other. When they are in closer proximity, they communicate using a number of other distinct sounds, including growling, barking, and whimpering.

Wolves also communicate using body language. Their facial expressions, posture, eye contact, and scent markings all send clear messages to other wolves in the pack as well as to other packs in the area. 


Wolves are highly intelligent, fast, powerful members of the canine family. They live and hunt in packs and can be found in a variety of habitats throughout the Northern Hemisphere. We’ve got some more information on our website, if you would like to know how to survive their attack, or if your dogs could protect you.

Read also about other forest mammals – here are our guides about armadillo, beaver and gorilla.

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