Gray Wolf

Gray Wolf
Gray wolf (Canis lupus) is the largest dog that lives in the wild.

Gray wolves are the largest dogs that live in the wild. They are found in the northern hemisphere of all continents. They live in forests, tundra, grasslands, and deserts. Biologists believe all pet dogs are descended from gray wolves.

Gray wolves are intelligent and social animals. Gray wolves live together in packs of between eight and 20 family members. A pack is usually led by the oldest male and female–the dominant breeding pair. Packs patrol home territories which they maintain with scent markings. Gray wolves howl to announce their presence and to tell neighboring gray wolves to keep out of their territory. A gray wolf’s howl can be heard up to 6 miles (10 km) away. A pack of gray wolves will often harmonize to sound large and strong.

Gray wolves are not always gray; they can also be black, brown, or almost white. The gray wolf has long legs and a stocky build. It stands 2.2 to 2.7 feet tall at the shoulder and its body can be 3.25 to 5.25 feet long. Gray wolves weigh between 65 and 175 pounds (30-80 kg).

Gray wolves
Gray wolves have an under and outer layer of fur to keep warm.

Gray wolves have long, powerful legs and large, wide feet. Gray wolves walk and run on their toes. A gray wolf may range up to 125 miles (200 km) in a day and can run as fast as 45 miles per hour (70 km/h). The gray wolf’s large feet and claws allow it to grip rocks, ice, and other slippery surfaces. Gray wolves have a thick fur coat with soft, dense underfur and a layer of long fur on top for protection from the cold.

Gray wolves have sensitive noses and large, upward pointed ears that allow them to pick up smells and sounds of other animals and track prey. Gray wolves have long muzzles and powerful jaws with 42 sharp teeth for killing prey, chewing meat, gnawing bones, and fighting.

Gray wolves are carnivores. Gray wolves sometimes hunt alone but they often hunt together as a pack. By hunting together, they can kill large animals such as deer, moose, and caribou. Gray wolves hunting in packs will chase down prey and then take turns biting at the faces and flanks of their victim until it collapses in exhaustion and is killed.

Gray wolves are usually born in spring. A mother gray wolf will have 4 to 7 pups in a litter. Pups are called cubs, and they remain with their mother for about 3 to 5 months before they can run with the pack. When a gray wolf is about one year old, it may choose to leave the pack and go out on its own.

Gray wolves live about 14 years. The scientific name of the gray wolf is Canis lupus.

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