March 24, 2021 3 min read

what does alpha mean in a wolf pack

The Alpha wolf is the most authoritative in the pack. He is the leader of the pack and is at the top of his hierarchy. This totem animal represents the most dominant wolf, who is responsible for taking decisive action regarding the survival of the pack, along with his wolf.

The Alpha couple is the leading duo that commands the respect and loyalty of the other wolves and maintains certain rights to reign supreme, such as the right to breed.

dominant alpha wolf

The wolf pack: The social structure

The wolf pack is organized according to a very strict social structure that defines the rank of each member in the hierarchy and organizes life within the pack. This also helps to avoid conflicts between its members.

The Alpha couple decides the fate of the pack and makes all decisions regarding its well-being. This concerns :

  • Hunting: the leaders of the pack guide the herd during the hunt. Being the most dominant couple, they are the first wolves to start eating the prey after it is captured.
  • Movement: the pack leaders are responsible for organizing movement and taking the necessary measures to defend their territory.

The structure of the pack creates a relationship of respect that is manifested in the veneration of higher ranking wolves by lower ranking wolves. In particular, when a wolf of advanced rank comes into conflict with a wolf of lower rank, the latter withdraws peacefully.

dominant couple wolf

Beta wolves succeed the dominant couple in the hierarchy and can take their place in case of death. Their main role is to protect the pack leaders, thanks to their powerful morphology.

Beta wolves are also responsible for marking the territory of their pack, leaving claw marks in strategic places.

The Omega wolves come next. They occupy the lowest rank in the organization and are the most submissive animals. These members are the whipping boys in the herd. They are the ones who absorb the aggression that may arise between pack members. These wolves must calm hostilities, stop quarrels and ease tensions within the pack.

The main role of the Omega wolves is to maintain the balance in the pack and keep it calm.


The reproduction of the wolf (the rut)

The Alpha pair is the only one that has the right to reproduce. The fertility potential of this pair reaches its peak during the winter season: between December and March.

During the mating season (or rut), Alpha wolves live this period with a lot of tenderness: gentle cuddling in the form of licking the partner's face and ears, rubbing the she-wolf against her male, nasal contact, sleeping next to each other, howling and moving together, etc.

sleep wolf

Sexual maturity of the Alpha wolf

Sexual maturity in wolves is reached between 22 and 46 months. This phenomenon is manifested by the extension of the size of the scrotum, the testicles and the excessive production of testosterone.

This physical change is accompanied by a behavioral change in the Alpha male. During this delicate phase, he becomes wilder and more hostile. He fights his battles with brutality and defends his territory with aggression. In particular, he increases the marking of his territory to dissuade foreign wolves.

During the mating season, Alpha wolves move away from the pack for a period of time to avoid interference and covetousness from other wolves.

angry wolf

Sexual maturity of the Alpha female

The Alpha female reaches sexual maturity around 22 months. This is accompanied by the following transformations: a vulval swelling and bleeding. This animal is monocyclic, with estrus induction once a year. Note that the duration of mating is relatively short and lasts about 30 minutes.

The Alpha wolf has only one chance for fertilization per year. This unique opportunity may be due to the lengthening of the ovulatory cycle: proestrus lasts 6 weeks and estrus lasts one week.

The Alpha wolf puts a lot of psychological pressure on the other wolves and harasses them, in order to block their estrus and to appropriate the right of reproduction. The Alpha male behaves in the same way and forbids the other wolves to mate.

alpha female wolf

The Mating Ritual

The mating season is manifested by specific rituals:

  • The sniffing of the genitals.
  • Sexual games: rolling on the ground, intense body contact, etc.
  • The she-wolf in heat gives signals to her partner, indicating her state, notably through her urine traces.

The Alpha wolf symbolizes strength and power, due to its abilities as a hardened predator and determined warrior, in addition to other characteristics that make its robustness as resistance, intelligence and freedom.

For this reason we invite you to consult our article that adopts this totem animal as the most outstanding symbol: the alpha wolf watch




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