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The wolf is a carnivorous mammal that is often considered to be a distant relative of the domestic dog (Canis Lupus familiaris), despite their obvious differences in size and behaviours.

Did you know that there are different breeds of wolves, each with their own characteristics? These species are distributed in different parts of the world, the majority of them occupying the top step on the food scale. If you are familiar with the different species of wolves that exist, this article will be interesting for you!

Wolf characteristics : Physical

The wolf has existed for about 800,000 years. At that time, it was endemic in many parts of the world, such as America, Asia and Europe; nowadays, however, that has changed a lot ... Where do wolves come from? Mainly in the United States and some places in Europe, especially on Russian territories.

Among the characteristics of wolves is their resemblance to the domestic dog. In addition to that, depending on the breed, they can weigh between 40 and 80 kilos (88 and 176 pounds), and they have a massive body supported by powerful muscular legs, all accompanied by a powerful jaw with sharp teeth.

Wolf breeds can run between 10 and 65 km/hour (6.2 miles/h and 40.4 miles/h), in addition to having the ability to jump impressively in order to survey mountainous terrain and catch their prey. Their sense of smell is highly developed and their eyes are able to see in the dark thanks to the tapetum lucidum, a membrane capable of filtering the small amounts of light present at night.

On the other hand, their fur is dense, thick and hard. It protects them from adverse conditions and dirt, and keeps them warm during frosty weather while providing perfect camouflage.

Here are some of the characteristics of wolves, and we will continue to tell you in detail about the different breeds of wolves that exist.

angry husky wolf

How many types of wolves are there ?

There are several species and subspecies of wolves distributed in different parts of the world, but... how many breeds of wolves are there? We'll tell you right now!

The genus Canis, records 16 different species, among them, the Canis lupus. This species has 37 different subspecies, among them is the cross between the domestic dog and the grey wolf. In addition, there is the Canis mesomelas elongate, subspecies of the species Canis mesomelas, which are not wolves, but jackals, like the Canis simensis, which is a coyote.

Since not all species registered as Canis are wolves, how many breeds of wolf are there? According to the official organizations, the different studies carried out and the comparative toxicogenomics (CTD) data bases, here are the only wolf species that exist, in which we find different subspecies :

  • Canis Anthus
  • Canis Indica
  • Canis Lycaon
  • Canis Himalayensis
  • Canis Lupus
  • Canis Rufus

In the following paragraphs we will see together the most popular species and subspecies.

green wolf eyes

Grey "Gray" Wolf (Canis Lupus)

The Canis Lupus or Gray Wolf is a carnivorous canine species from which descend many subspecies that make up the different types of wolves. Nowadays, this species is especially present in the United States, where it is one of the biggest predators.

It is characterized by the fact that it lives in packs governed by a social hierarchy. Thanks to this organization, they hunt and feed in groups. This behavior, however, has greatly reduced their opportunity to live in other places, as they are a danger to farms and livestock.

There are more than 20 subspecies of gray wolves, some of which we will see in the following.

grey gray wolf canis lupus

Iberian wolf (Canis Lupus Signatus)

The Iberian wolf (Canis Lupus Signatus) is a subspecies of the Lupusendemic Canis of the Iberian Peninsula. It is characterized by its 50 kilos (110 pounds) and for its distinctive coat: chestnut or beige on the belly, black on the spine with lighter spots from the middle to the tail.

The Iberian wolf is one of the most common types of Spanish wolves. Its carnivorous diet is based on hunting sheep, rabbits, wild boar, reptiles and some birds, as well as a small portion (5%) of food of vegetable origin.

iberian wolf canis lupus signatus

Arctic wolf (Canus Lupus Arctos)

Canus Lupus Arctos or Arctic Wolf, is an endemic specimen of Canada and Greenland. Its size is smaller than that of other wolves and it weighs around 45 kilos (99 pounds). As a form of adaptation to its icy environment where it lives, it has a white or light yellow fur that allows it to camouflage itself perfectly. It is also a subspecies of Canis Lupus.

This species tends to live in rock caves and it feeds on other mammals that live in arctic areas, such as elk, beef and caribou, as well as seals and partridges.

arctic wolf canus lupus arctos

Arabian Wolf (Canis Lupus Arabs)

Another breed of wolf is the Arabian wolf (Canis Lupus Arabs), a subspecies of the grey wolf found in the Sinai Peninsula and several Middle Eastern countries. It is a small desert wolf that weighs only 20 kilos (44 pounds) and feeds on carrion as well as smaller animals such as hares.

Unlike other wolves, the Arabian wolf doesn't howl and doesn't live in packs. The Arabian wolf coat is sepia with chestnut, two colors that allow it to camouflage itself perfectly in sand and rocky areas.

arabian wolf canis lupus arabs

Black wolf

The black wolf is only a variation of the coat of the gray wolf (Canis Lupus), i.e. it is not a subspecies of wolves. Like the gray wolf, the black wolf lives in North America, Asia and Europe.

This variation in coat is due to a genetic mutation that occurred when domestic dogs were crossed with wild wolves. In the past, there was a Florida black wolf (Canis lupus floridanus), unfortunately declared extinct in 1908.

black wolf

Common gray wolf (Canis Lupus Lupus)

Canis Lupus Lupus is the most extensive subspecies of grey wolf that exists. This type of wolf lives in a large part of Europe, as well as large Asian territories, such as China. Among European species, it is one of the largest, weighing between 40 and 70 kilos (88 and 154 pounds). Its fur is gray and its abdomen is cream-colored.

About its diet, the common gray wolf is a predator of hares, cattle, elk, deer, goats and wild boar.

gray wolf canis lupus lupus

Siberian wolf (Canis Lupus Albus)

Among the types of wolves that live in cold areas is the Canis Lupus Lupus, popularly known as the Siberian Wolf. It is present in the Russian tundra and the Siberian region until it reaches Scandinavia. It weighs between 40 and 50 kilos (88 and 110 pounds) and its fur is long and thick and allows it to survive in extremely cold temperatures.

The Siberian wolf feeds on reindeer, hares and arctic foxes. In addition, it is a nomadic species of wolf that travels following the migrations of the animals that form part of its diet.

siberian wolf canis lupus albus

Mexican wolf (Canis Lupus Baileyi)

Another breed of wolf is the Canis Lupus Baileyi, a subspecies that lives in North America, where it prefers to live in deserts and temperate forest zones. It weighs up to 45 kilos (99 pounds) and its fur is composed of several colors, among which are cream, yellow and black.

This species feeds on cattle, hares, sheep and rodents. Due to the fact that Mexican wolf attacks cattle, it was hunted and nowadays it is considered extinct in the wild, however, there are some programs for its reproduction in captivity.

mexican wolf canis lupus baileyi

Baffin Island wolf (Canis Lupus manningi)

The Baffin Island wolf (Canis Lupus Manningi) is a rare subspecies that lives alone on Baffin Island, Canada. Its fur and size are similar to the Arctic wolf. Not much is known about this species, but it is known to feed on hares and foxes.

baffin island wolf canis lupus manningi

Yukon wolf (Canis Lupus pambasileus)

Another breed of wolf is the Canis Lupus Pambasileus also known as the Yukon wolf. It lives in the Yukon, a territory in Canada, from which it takes its name. With a maximum weight of 70 kilos (154 pounds), it is one of the largest wolves in the world.

Its fur combines different colours ranging from white, grey, beige and black, colours that are randomly distributed over its body.

yukon wolf canis lupus pambasileus

Dingo (Canis Lupus Dingo)

The dingo (Canis Lupus Dingo) is a variety distributed in Australia and some Asian areas. It is a small wolf that weighs only 32 kilos (70.5 pounds), which is why it is considered a dog and is even adopted as a pet.

The dingo's coat has a uniform colour that varies between red and yellow; there are even specimens with albinism.

Vancouver wolf (Canis Lupus Crassodon)

Canis Lupus Crassodon is endemic to Vancouver Island in Canada. Like the Arctic wolf, it has a white coat that allows it to camouflage itself in its environment. Although not much is known about this type of wolf, it is known to live in packs of up to 35 individuals and rarely approaches areas populated by humans.

Canadian wolf (Canis Lupus Occidentalis)

The Canadian wolf (Canis Lupus Occidentalis) lives from the coasts from the icy Arctic Ocean to the United States. It is one of the largest wolves, measuring up to 85 centimetres long (33.5 inches), even though it weighs only 45 to 50 kilograms (99 to 110 pounds).

As for its fur, it can be black, grey or chestnut with white. Its diet is varied, it can feed on oxen, hares, reptiles, deer and elk.

Red wolf (Canis Rufus)

Leaving aside the subspecies of grey wolf, within the wolf species we also find the Canis Lufus also known as the Red wolf. It inhabits some areas of Mexico, the United States and Canada. Unfortunately, it is in critical danger of extinction due to the hunting of the species it feeds on, the introduction of specimens into its environment and the effect of the construction of transportation routes.

The Red wolf is characterized by weighing around 35 kilos (77 pounds) and by its spotted coat, where reddish, grey and yellow areas can be seen. They feed on deer, raccoons and rodents.

red wolf canis rufus

Abyssinian wolf (Canis Simensis)

The Canis Simensis is actually a jackal or coyote, so it is not a wolf breed. It lives at an altitude of 3,000 meters in the Ethiopian mountains. It is the size of a dog and weighs only between 10 and 20 kilos (22 to 44 pounds). In addition, its fur is red with white spots under the neck and its tail is black.

He lives in a hierarchically organized pack. Nowadays, it is on the verge of extinction due to the destruction of its environment as well as human attacks against it to keep it away from livestock.

Golden wolf (Canis Anthus)

The Golden wolf (Canis Anthus) is a species of wolf that lives on the African continent. This wolf is adapted to the semi-desert climate, but prefers to live in areas where there are water sources.

As for its physical characteristics, it is smaller than other wolves. It weighs around 15 kilos (33 pounds) and has dark fur on its back and tail and sand-colored fur on its legs and abdomen.

Indian wolf (Canis Indica)

The Indian wolf (Canis Indica) is native to Israel, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, where it prefers to live in semi-desert areas. It is a wolf with a stylized body, which weighs only 30 kilos (66 pounds), its fur is reddish or tiger and it allows them to camouflage themselves in sand and rocky areas.

This breed of wolf feeds mainly on cattle, which is why it was persecuted in India for several centuries.