20+ Facts About Wolves That'll Leave You Howling

Originally Published: 
facts about wolves

It makes sense as to why wolves are such fascinating creatures. It’s especially clear for dog lovers — since wolves and dogs are closely related, it’s only natural to feel a special bond with them. That said, wolves also lead intriguing lives that happen to be beneficial for the environment. Fun and fascinating facts about wolves will also entertain any child who seems to have a fondness for them.

Even though dogs have often been called “domesticated wolves,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should approach a wolf the same as you would a dog. But, you can appreciate them safely from home by learning more about them. For example, did you know there are a few different types of wolves in the wild? Or that not all female wolves bear pups? Bet you didn’t!

Here are some awesome wolf facts, just to get you started.

Facts About Wolves

  1. Wolves communicate through howls. It’s incredible to think about how wolves can communicate with each other. Body language is important, but so is the wolf’s howl. Howling within the same pack can be a way for wolves to distinguish everything from where they stand among the group, to whether or not they should approach something that may be a threat out in nature.
  2. Wolves can weigh up to 110 pounds. Female wolves normally weigh anywhere between 60 and 90 pounds, but male wolves are estimated to weigh up to 110 pounds. The heaviest wolf on record was said to weigh 190, but that’s nowhere near the norm. Regardless, it’s just another reminder that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
  3. Packs have an interesting way of eating. They take being the “pack leader” seriously. When they find food, a pack leader often eats first, and as much as he wants. Then, the other wolves follow. This is especially telling of class within the pack, as sometimes wolves can go days without a meal.
  4. They can also eat up to 20 pounds of food in one sitting. Since food may be scarce, wolves don’t necessarily hold back when it comes to chowing down.
  5. Wolves are only a danger to livestock if there’s no other food available out in the wild. While many residents around the area were concerned about the lives of the livestock after wolves were placed in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, they’ve happily stayed away if other options for meat are present. The reason the wolves were placed there was to help promote breeding since there was a time when wolves were on the brink of being endangered.
  6. Wolves also avoid killing healthy animals. Wolves make a point to seek out sick and injured animals to eat. As a pro for them, they’re usually much easier to kill. But, it’s also a good way to let healthy animals continue breeding so the wolves’ food supplies aren’t in jeopardy.
  7. Their paw prints have been compared to the size of human hands. Ever try to shake your dog’s hand before, as a trick? Well, you’d get a much more substantial handshake from a wolf, as their paws are roughly the size of human hands. (Of course, it’s not the wisest idea.)
  8. Wolves are very smart. In fact, they may be at the same level as dogs, if not wiser. It’s tough to tell since dogs often show intelligence when it comes to humans. They aim to please. But wolves don’t care about humans quite as much, so they can’t be trained the same way.
  9. That said, wolves aren’t as violent as people think. Yes, you should keep a healthy distance from a wolf if you happen to see one in the wild. But oftentimes, they only get violent if they’re feeling sick, or feel as if their pack is in danger.
  10. Wolf packs can contain up to 30 wolves. While two can make a pack, they’ve been spotted in groups of up to 30. The average number of wolves in a pack falls between five and eight.
  11. Grey wolves live far longer in captivity. This is one of the most intriguing facts about wolves: while plenty of zoos and wildlife exhibits do their best to mimic a wolf’s natural habitat, wolves reportedly last longer in captivity than they do in the wild. Typically, a grey wolf’s lifespan is anywhere between six and eight years. But in captivity, while being properly looked after, that can reach up to 17 years.
  12. Wolves help other animals in nature. You might assume that wolves are predators and a threat to other wildlife animals. Yes, they do depend on their prey to survive. However, they’re also generous. The scraps that they leave from their kills often help feed others in the wild. While wolves do the hard part, everyone benefits from their hunt.
  13. Less popular wolves might try and challenge the pack leader to take over his position. Typically these challenges are more boastful instead of deadly, but that can change based on the dynamic of the group. Some groups spotted seemingly gave every wolf a chance at leadership.
  14. However, some former-alpha wolves leave the pack if they’ve been defeated. Instead of taking on a lower rank, a wolf may stray from his pack and look to find a new mate. That wolf would then naturally form a new pack.
  15. Wolves have been important creatures for quite some time. One of the first sightings of a wolf was discovered as a cave drawing, estimated to have been created back in 20,000 B.C.E.
  16. Not all female wolves choose to bear pups. Wolves have a choice when it comes to the matter. Often, only the female wolf connected to the pack leader will have babies. This is often seen as a way to ensure that all cubs have better chances at having similar stature to their parents, who are often seen as leaders based on size.
  17. Lower-ranking wolves barely procreate. Male wolves who are smaller and lower in rank often go through “psychological castration” based on stress. Female cubs who feel intimidated by the female wolf in charge have also been known not to go into heat.
  18. According to Greek mythology, wolves can indirectly turn you into a vampire. Ancient Greeks believed that eating a lamb that a wolf killed would turn you into a vrykolakas, which is like a vampire or an undead blood-sucking creature.
  19. Wolves are born with blue eyes. When a wolf cub is born, its eyes start blue but usually turn yellow after six to eight months.
  20. A wolf’s howl can be heard from up to six miles away. So, if you hear a wolf cry in the distance, odds are they’re not that close.
  21. Twenty-four wolf species have gone extinct. The only ones left are the gray and red wolf. However, some scientists debate the number of surviving wolf species. While some say there are only two left, others argue there are actually four.

This article was originally published on