You know that wolves are one of the most magnificent creatures on Earth if you’ve ever seen one on the trail.
Have you ever wondered how many distinct wolf species there are?
We can provide you with whatever you need. In reality, we prepared this wolf guide to help you understand everything there is to know about these magnificent animals.
To begin with, we’ll give you a overview of the 27 distinct species of wolves that currently roam the earth. After that, we’ll provide you with some fascinating information about these canines to equip you for a career as a wolf expert.
The 27 Types of Wolves: Your Complete Guide
In a technical standpoint, only one species, Canis lupus, accounts for the majority of dogs we refer to as wolves. There are dozens of recognized subspecies within that species, as well as a few disputed subspecies.
We’ve compiled this list of the 27 different kinds of wolves that currently rove the planet in order to make things simpler for you. We’ll talk about several of the problems that scientists confront when attempting to categorize this amazing species in this section, as well as the many various wolf subspecies.
1. Tundra Wolf (Canis lupus albus)
The tundra wolf takes precedence on our list. In the tundra and forests of Eurasia, these big wolves may be found in the northern parts of the globe. They are most often seen in Russia, particularly on the Kamchatka Peninsula, although they may occasionally be seen in northern Scandinavia’s highest lands.
The tundra wolf stands out among other kinds of wolves in terms of size. They have long, fluffy fur with a light grey color and may weigh up to 90 pounds (41 kg). Their coat colors, on the other hand, may range widely, making it difficult to identify the tundra wolf in the field.
2. Arabian Wolf (Canis lupus arabs)
The Arabian wolf, also known as the desert wolf, is a tiny variety of wolf that may be found across the Arabian Peninsula. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, and southern Israel are currently the only places where it can be found in small packs.
These wolves dwell in desert rather than forested or tundra environments, which makes them unusual among their kind. As a consequence, their fur is quite light in color and has become rather short.
The Arabian wolf is just half the size of its bigger relatives, weighing less than 45 pounds (20 kilograms). In addition to its enormous ears, which aid it in surviving in a desert environment, it has several other unusual features.
3. Steppe Wolf (Canis lupus campestris)
The steppe wolf is a small wolf that plays an essential part in the steppe ecosystem of the Caucasus, and can be found across southern Kazakhstan and northern Ukraine.
The steppe wolf has coarse, brownish-grey hair when contrasted to other wolf types. It is a keystone species in the Caucasian steppe ecoregion, where it aids to balance and govern local ecosystems.
The steppe wolf, on the other hand, is currently experiencing a low risk of extinction due to human-wolf confrontations that have occurred throughout the years. While they are not protected under most national laws, they are still hunted throughout different sections of their range.
4. Himalayan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco)
The Himalayan wolf is a disputed subspecies that’s closely related to the Mongolian wolf and is sometimes referred to as the Tibetan wolf. The Indian subcontinent, particularly the Himalaya, is home to these wolves. They may live in a range of ecosystems, but they favor grasslands and prefer to live in montane forests and alpine areas.
Wolves feed on a wide range of tiny to medium-sized creatures, but they favor yak, sheep, and other domesticated animals above all else. In recent years, this has caused issues for the wolf since farmers seek to safeguard their livestock.
Local governments, however, have difficulty formally protecting these subspecies due to taxonomic ambiguity surrounding the difference between Himalayan and Mongolian wolves.
5. Mongolian Wolf (Canis lupus chanco)
The Himalayan wolf and the Mongolian wolf are cousins. In reality, scientists are divided on whether or not it should be classified as a subspecies of the Himalayan wolf or if it should be combined with the Himalayan wolf.
Despite this, Mongolia and portions of China, Russia, and Korea have historically had Mongolian wolves. Although Mongolian wolf numbers fell to around 10,000 animals in the early 2000s as a consequence of systematic wolf hunting, they were expected to be around 30,000 animals at one time.
While wolves are still at risk of extinction, Mongolia’s Mongolian wolf is now very protected.
6. New Guinea Singing Dog (Canis lupus dingo)
A New Guinea singing dog is, nonetheless, a subspecies of Canis lupus, as many persons would not associate it with a wolf. The New Guinea singing dog, sometimes known as a dingo, is one of the world’s tiniest wolves.
While there are minor populations in Oceania and southeastern Asia, these canines may be found across New Guinea and Australia. They can survive in virtually any habitat, from the highlands to the lowlands.
Most dingos are reddish or ginger in color, although a few are black or white in color. Interbreeding between dingos and domesticated dogs has resulted in a significant number of mixed animals, particularly in Australia, where they are abundant.
7. Eurasian Wolf (Canis lupus lupus)
One of the world’s biggest and most widely distributed subspecies of wolves is the Eurasian wolf. Eurasian wolves used to be found across Europe and western Asia, particularly in Eastern Europe.
It was heavily hunted throughout the Middle Ages, and the population as a whole plummeted. Just a few Eurasian wolf populations survive on the continent today, many of which are still threatened by human interaction.
With an average weight of approximately 86 pounds (39 kg), the Eurasian wolf is one of the world’s largest wolf subspecies. Reindeer, chamois, wild goats, and ibex are among the species they naturally eat, but they also occasionally feast on livestock. This is how they earned their bad reputation with humans.
8. Indian Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes)
The Indian wolf, one of the lesser known wolf subspecies, may be found all throughout India. Pakistan and Iran are also home to this species on occasion. It has even been seen as far as Turkey on occasion.
The Indian wolf, which resides in wooded areas, is mostly found in the country’s Peninsular region. Nevertheless, because it may be confused with the Himalayan wolf, it has been discovered in portions of the Himalaya.
The Indian wolf is recognized for being rather petite when compared to other wolves. Its fur coat is also reddish-grey on the top half and white on the belly and legs, which makes it stand out.
9. Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos)
The Arctic wolf is a magnificent dog that lives in Canada’s Queen Elizabeth Islands and is arguably the most well-known of the wolf subspecies.
The Arctic wolf stands out from the rest of the pack because of its nearly completely white coloration, which is common among other wolves. Its mostly white coat and medium-size appearance often distinguish it from other lightly-colored subspecies, such as the Hudson Bay wolf, in photographs.
Thankfully, because of its remote habitat, the Arctic wolf is not vulnerable to large-scale hunting by humans. The species’ long-term survival is threatened, however, by rapidly changing climate conditions in the polar regions.
10. Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi)
The Mexican wolf is a small subspecies of wolf with mostly dark-colored fur that is often considered to be the rarest in North America.
In the southwestern United States and northern Mexico, the Mexican wolf was formerly abundant. Yet, over the previous few centuries, wolf persecution has driven the subspecies to near-extinction.
Thankfully, the Mexican wolf population is growing as a consequence of a dedicated breeding program.
As of late 2020, the Mexican wolf population has reached a total of approximately 185 animals as part of a multi-agency initiative. Biologists are hopeful that the subspecies will make a good recovery in the coming years, despite the fact that it has not yet recovered to its previous population levels.
The European death knot is not inherently a dangerous knot, despite its scary-sounding name. The European death knot, sometimes known as the flat overhand, has a dreadful reputation due to the fact that it has been linked to a number of climbing fatalities, especially in Europe. This knot, on the other hand, is not intrinsically dangerous if proper knot-tying is done.
11. British Columbian Wolf (Canis lupus columbianus)
The British Columbian wolf, another extremely endangered subspecies, is a tiny dog that may be found in Canada’s coastal regions as well as portions of southern Yukon.
It feeds on fish and small deer, both of which are plentiful in its natural habitat, which is a fairly unusual diet among wolves.
Nonetheless, the British Columbian wolf is one of only a few subspecies of wolves that are legally killed in its native range. Local authorities in British Columbia have been culling local wolf populations since the early 2000s in an attempt to help save the dwindling populations of southern mountain caribou, a practice that continues to be highly controversial.
12. Vancouver Island Wolf (Canis lupus crassodon)
The Vancouver Island wolf is a very unusual subspecies of wolf that only dwells on Canada’s Vancouver Island, as its name suggests. These wolves have a shape and coloration that is quite similar to the British Columbia wolf, yet they are somewhat smaller and lighter in hue.
Just fewer than 200 Vancouver Island wolves are believed to exist in the wild, with the majority of them living in tiny to medium-sized groups.
Takaya, a lone wolf who lived on her own on a small island off the coast of Vancouver Island until she was killed by a hunter in 2020, was perhaps the most well-known Vancouver Island wolf.
13. Hudson Bay Wolf (Canis lupus hudsonicus)
The Hudson Bay wolf is a medium-sized and mostly white-colored wolf that roams the Canadian Arctic. It is found throughout the Hudson Bay area of Manitoba and the Northwest Territories.
The Hudson Bay wolf is occasionally mistaken with the Arctic wolf in photographs because of their physical similarities. The Hudson Bay wolf, on the other hand, has a more rounded skull, which may be used to distinguish between individuals.
Elk and caribou, both plentiful in the Hudson Bay wolf’s area, are preferred foods. The wolf, on the other hand, has a remote range that prevents it from coming into touch with humans on a regular basis.
14. Northern Rocky Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus irremotus)
The Northern Rocky Mountain wolf is a rare species that exists in both the United States and Canada. It is the only surviving wolf species in the Rocky Mountains.
The wolf was formerly found in southern Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho, as well as Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. Nonetheless, until it was protected under the Endangered Species Act, years of hunting pushed the wolf to the verge of extinction.
Once the Endangered Species Act was enacted, the wolf population has exploded. The wolf’s presence in the western United States, on the other hand, remains contentious among ranchers.
Despite this, the current population of the Northern Rocky Mountain wolf is far from what it was previously. As a result, if you encounter one of these magnificent creatures while traveling, consider yourself lucky.
15. Alexander Archipelago Wolf (Canis lupus ligoni)
The Alexander Archipelago wolf is a little, darkly-colored kind of wolf that only lives on a few islands in Southeastern Alaska. It is a lesser-known subspecies of the gray wolf. The Alexander Archipelago, which is a collection of islands in southeastern Alaska that stretches from the Dixon Entrance to Yakutat Bay, is home to this wolf.
Tongass National Forest is home to the majority of Alexander Archipelago wolves, although they are not officially protected. While up to 30% of the population is culled each year, it is thought that there are less than 80 individuals left in the wild.
Other factors contributing to the subspecies’ decline, such as dwindling Sitka black-tailed deer populations (the wolves’ preferred meal source), are also important.
16. Eastern Wolf (Canis lupus lycaon)
The eastern wolf is a kind of wolf that was historically prevalent across North America’s eastern region, and it was also known as the timber wolf. Although its historic range included much of the continent’s eastern seaboard, it is currently only found in parts of Ontario and Quebec in Canada.
You might be informed that the eastern wolf (Canis lycaon) is a distinct species depending on who you consult. This, on the other hand, is a point of contention, and it is classified as a subspecies of Canis lupus.
Because of its dwindling population and continued hunting, the wolf is designated as a threatened species in Ontario. Because it is thought that there are fewer than 500 individuals in the wild, seeing one on your travels is especially thrilling.
17. Mackenzie River Wolf (Canis lupus mackenzii)
In Nunavut, the Northwestern Territories, and Yukon, the Mackenzie River wolf is a lesser-known wolf species.
In the scientific community, very little is known about the subspecies due to their limited range. Yet, in the northernmost parts of Canada’s mainland, it is a recognized subspecies.
Several reserves have been established in recent years to safeguard significant portions of the wolf’s habitat. The newly established Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve, which is located on the eastern shore of Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories, has one of the greatest reserves.
18. Baffin Island Wolf (Canis lupus manningi)
The Baffin Island wolf is the tiniest of the wolves found in the polar area, and it is one of the world’s least-commonly sighted.
Baffin Island and its neighboring islands, notably Katannilik Territorial Park, are home to this predominantly white wolf. Apart from the fact that it feeds on barren-ground caribou, lemmings, and arctic hares, little is known about this elusive wolf.
These wolves are only found in the far reaches of their habitat, making encounters with them extremely rare. Yet, if you happen to visit Baffin Island one day and encounter one of these wolves, consider it a truly remarkable experience.
19. Northwestern Wolf (Canis lupus occidentalis)
The northwestern wolf is a subspecies of wolf that can be found across western Canada and certain areas of Alaska. It is sometimes known as the Mackenzie Valley wolf (not to be confused with the Mackenzie River wolf).
The males of this subspecies, which average 124 pounds (56 kg) in weight, are thought to be one of the largest. While this is a subject of considerable debate, it is also regarded to be one of the most widespread subspecies of grey wolves in North America.
The wolf subspecies utilized in the Yellowstone National Park wolf reintroduction program was surprisingly the northwestern wolf. In the attempt of aiding to reestablish the natural wolf population and ecological equilibrium in the area, a pack of northwestern wolves was moved to Wyoming’s park.
20. Greenland Wolf (Canis lupus orion)
The Greenland wolf is now primarily found in northern Greenland, where it was first discovered throughout the Queen Elizabeth Islands and parts of Greenland.
The Greenland wolf is predominantly white in color, as are other polar subspecies of wolves. It eats everything from muskox to seals, which makes it rather tiny for a wolf.
Greenland wolves were extensively hunted throughout the ages, resulting in a substantial drop in their numbers. Since the 1980s, however, Greenlandic legislation has kept them safe, and the majority of today’s wolf population lives in Northeast Greenland National Park. There are around 200 wild horses left, according to estimates.
21. Alaskan Interior Wolf (Canis lupus pambasileus)
The Interior Alaska and Yukon wolf, also known as the Yukon wolf, is the most common subspecies of wolf in these areas. It may be found in British Columbia and the Northwest Territories on occasion, however it has a wide range.
These wolves are grey to tan in color and are generally regarded as average in size. Wolves in the Interior of Alaska prefer to hunt for barren-ground caribou, boreal caribou, moose, and Dall sheep in packs of about eight wolves.
While there are a few thousand wolves believed to be roaming around in the Alaskan Interior, the wolf species is doing fairly well. Yet, owing to a variety of factors including global warming and the reintroduction of terrestrial wolf hunting in Alaska, they are classified as vulnerable.
22. Alaskan Tundra Wolf (Canis lupus tundrarum)
The Alaskan tundra wolf is a huge, mostly white-colored wolf that dwells in the northernmost sections of mainland North America. It is closely connected to the Alaskan Interior wolf. The Alaska tundra wolf may be found east as far as Hudson Bay, despite its name implying that it only occurs in Alaska.
Wolves prefer to dwell in the Arctic tundra, boreal woodlands, and taiga. Caribou, moose, bison, and muskoxen are their favorite prey here.
Sightings of the Alaskan tundra wolf, however, are rare in comparison to the much more widely distributed Alaskan Interior wolf. As a result, any encounters with these elusive predators are memorable.
23. Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus)
The Iberian wolf is a source of considerable debate among wolves throughout the world. The Iberian wolf is sometimes classified as a distinct subspecies from the Eurasian wolf, and it is also known as the Spanish wolf.
The Iberian wolf is a subject of significant debate in the world of wolves. The Iberian wolf is often regarded to be a specific subspecies of the Eurasian wolf, and it is also known as the Spanish wolf.
Farmers who wanted to safeguard their livestock hunted the Iberian wolf for centuries. Nonetheless, the Iberian wolf is the only wolf species in Western Europe that may be killed legally. The Iberian wolf is considered a prized big-game trophy in the area, despite the fact that there are only a limited number of hunting permits available.
24. Italian Wolf (Canis lupus italicus)
The Italian or Apennine wolf is a subspecies that may be found across the Italian Peninsula, western Italy, and southern France and Switzerland. The Italian wolf appears to be genetically different from other Eurasian wolves, but it is not consistently recognized as a separate subspecies by experts.
While the number of Italian wolves is growing, they are still considered endangered today due to illegal hunting. Sightings of these lovely creatures, on the other hand, are still uncommon, making seeing one while hiking in the area a particularly unique experience.
25. Labrador Wolf (Canis lupus labradorius)
The Labrador wolf is a rare and difficult to find animal that lives throughout Labrador and parts of northern Quebec in Canada. It’s thought to be connected to the extinct Newfoundland wolf, according to scientists.
Throughout the twentieth century, the Labrador wolf was heavily hunted, resulting in a significant decrease in numbers. Nonetheless, the Labrador wolf population has expanded dramatically in recent years as caribou numbers have risen, making them less susceptible.
In addition, the Labrador wolf may have reached Newfoundland Island. There are now wolves on Newfoundland, according to a number of confirmed sightings on the island. Wolves have been on the island for the first time in over a century.
26. Red Wolf (Canis lupus rufus)
In the wolf world, the red wolf is a little out of place. The red wolf (Canis rufus) is sometimes considered to be its own species, despite being classified as a subspecies of the grey wolf (Canis lupus).
The red wolf is severely endangered, regardless of what it’s called. The southern and midwestern United States were formerly home to this species. However, due to hunting and habitat fragmentation, it was nearly completely extirpated from the wild by the mid-1900s.
Thankfully, a number of organizations started programs to reintroduce red wolf populations to the wild after the passage of the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s. Although wolves are still vulnerable, certain minor packs may be found across portions of North Carolina at the moment.
27. Domestic Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)
Did you think this list would include a gorgeous golden retriever? So, it seems that your Fido, like all other domesticated dogs, is a highly domesticated kind of wolf.
Of course, there is disagreement about the categorization of household dogs, and some scientists would consider household dogs to be their own species (Canis familiaris).
Nevertheless, both domestic dogs and contemporary wolves have a common ancestor, so they are linked. In reality, a hybrid named a “wolfdog” can be produced by interbreeding domestic dogs and wolves.
14 Extinct Types Of Wolves
We’ve just learned about 27 different species of wolves that still exist on our planet. Wolves, on the other hand, have long been one of the most feared animals in the northern hemisphere.
Several civilizations have maintained a long-standing practice of wolf hunting to safeguard livestock, and this has resulted in the extinction of numerous wolf subspecies. In reality, at least 14 distinct wolf subspecies have perished in the last few centuries as a result of the persecution of wolves.
Extinct wolves come in a variety of shapes and sizes.
- Sicilian Wolf (Canis lupus cristaldii) – The Sicilian wolf was a small, light-colored canid that became extinct in the 1920s after being discovered across Sicily.
- Southern Rocky Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus youngi) – The Southern Rocky Mountain wolf was hunted to extinction in 1935, and was the southerly neighbor of the current Northern Rocky Mountain wolf.
- Great Plains Wolf (Canis lupus nubilus) – The Great Plains wolf, which resembled the Southern Rocky Mountain wolf and was found across North America until its extinction in 1926, had a similar appearance and size.
- Texas Wolf (Canis lupus monstrabilis) – The Texas wolf, a darkly colored wolf that formerly roamed southern and western Texas, was exterminated around the late 1800s.
- Mogollon Mountain Wolf (Canis lupus mogollonensis) – The Mogollon mountain wolf was a small, darkly-colored wolf that formerly inhabited western Texas and northern Mexico, and it formerly shared a range with the Texas and Mexican wolves.
- Japanese Wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax) – The Japanese wolf was a small, brownish-colored wolf that was eliminated by 1905 after being found across the Japanese archipelago.
- Hokkaidō Wolf (Canis lupus hattai) – In 1889, the Hokkaidō wolf was declared extinct, a kind of wolf that lived throughout northeast Asia.
- Manitoba Wolf (Canis lupus griseoalbus) – The Manitoba wolf once lived throughout central Canada until it was hunted to extinction in the early 1900s as part of the fur trade.
- Mississippi Valley Wolf (Canis lupus gregoryi) – Sometimes called the Gregory’s wolf, the Mississippi Valley wolf lived throughout the Mississippi River Basin until it was extirpated by the 1980s.
- Cascade Mountains Wolf (Canis lupus fuscus) – Before being hunted to extinction in the 1940s, the Cascade Mountains wolf was a medium-sized cinnamon-colored wolf that lived throughout the Pacific Northwest.
- Florida Black Wolf (Canis lupus floridanus) – The Florida black wolf was formerly found across Florida until it was exterminated in 1934, with a gorgeous black fur coat.
- Banks Islands Wolf (Canis lupus bernardi) – The Banks Island wolf, often known as Bernard’s wolf, vanished from Canada’s Arctic regions in the early 1900s.
- Newfoundland Wolf (Canis lupus beothucus) – The Newfoundland wolf, which lived on the island of Newfoundland until it was exterminated in 1911, was closely related to the current Labrador wolf.
- Kenai Peninsula Wolf (Canis lupus alces) – In the early 1900s, miners and trappers wiped out the Kenai Peninsula wolf, which formerly lived in south-central Alaska.