March 24, 2021 4 min read


The gray wolf is a mammal of the subspecies of Canis lupus. It is the most common species of canids, which includes dogs, jackals, foxes, etc.

This animal has always been a source of fascination, especially through the tales and myths that have highlighted its ferocity and wildness. However, the fact of immersing oneself in its world, allows to reveal other attractive aspects of its life. Consult this article to discover them.

grey wolf in snow

General information about the gray wolf

The gray wolf, also called European wolf, Eurasian wolf or steppe wolf, is distributed all over the world. It is distributed between the different continents: it is found in particular in Central Europe, Central and North America, Asia and North Africa.

During its movements, this wolf has developed several subspecies according to the territories occupied. After its eradication in the 1930s, the gray wolf has made its return since 1992. It came from Italy and passed through the Alps to settle in the Vosges Massif in 2011.

european map

The Morphology

The gray wolf has a powerful morphology that is similar to that of a German shepherd. The morphology of the male is more vigorous than that of the female and it varies according to the environment where it lives.

In particular, the density and the color of its fur are very variable. We can distinguish fur with a color: gray, white, black, fawn, etc.. We note that the upper part of its body is always darker than the ventral part, with a white facial mask under the muzzle.

The weight of the gray wolf varies between 25 kg and 55 kg and can reach 80 kg. Its length extends to 160 cm.


The Hunt

The grey wolf is a very powerful and fast super-predator. Indeed, its maximum speed can reach 40 to 50 km/h and it can travel 60 km on average per night.

grey wolf running

Being a carnivorous animal, this wolf hunts different types of prey for food. For example, when it is solitary, it is satisfied with small prey, such as small rodents or rabbits. When hunting in a pack, the pack prefers large ungulates such as wild boar, musk ox, chamois, deer, reindeer, etc.

During the hunt, the pack tracks its prey over a distance of 2 km. Then, it attacks the prey from the sides and from behind and finally attacks it. It inflicts severe wounds in order to make it bleed as much as possible, after which it succumbs directly.

Sometimes the wolf feeds on carrion, berries, blueberries. Even, it can steal the prey of other predators.

Here is a detailed article on wolf feeding.

Life in the pack

Wolves often live in packs that follow a well-established hierarchy. Each pack is composed of an average of 4 to 5 members, whose structure can change, due to several reasons, such as death, births and dispersion. This phenomenon consists in the fact that a wolf leaves his pack, when he reaches 2 or 5 years old, in order to look for a new territory to settle down and found his own pack.

The pack is led by a dominant couple, which is the Alpha couple. In addition to other hierarchical levels represented by the Beta, Gamma, Omega and Cub wolves.

grey wolf pack

The Alpha Couple

This is the leading and strongest pair in the pack. In particular, the Alpha male is the first to feed after a prey hunt. This pair is responsible for making decisions about the survival of the pack, including travel and hunting. In addition, this pair exclusively preserves the right to breed.

Beta Wolf

This is the closest animal to the Alpha wolf. It is distinguished by its robustness and its main function is to protect the dominant couple.

The Gamma Wolf

The gamma wolf, or subordinate, plays the role of the sentinels to watch the surroundings and protect the troop.

The Omega Wolf

The omega wolf, wears the hat of a whipping boy who suffers the blows of the enraged wolves, in order to avoid confrontations between them.

The Cubs

The cubs do not have a well-defined hierarchical level, because they are not yet mature. They are taken care of by the gamma wolves who look after them.

Each pack protects its territory by special markings, such as: urine and howling. These practices are also used in the communication between the members of the pack.


Wolves use different ways to communicate with each other:

wolf communication
  • Auditory communication: howling is the most common means of communication between wolves and to signal to outsiders that the territory is occupied by the pack.
  • Postural communication: is a type of body communication that involves facial expression, hair erection and tail position. In particular, a wolf with an erect posture with bristling hair represents the posture of a dominant wolf.
  • Olfactory communication: wolves have a highly developed sense of smell that allows them to know, for example, if the territory is dominated by another pack, through the smell of urine in certain areas.

At the end of the 19th century, the wolf population was threatened by extermination. In order to preserve the species of this wild animal, it is protected by the Bern Convention (1979) and defended by certain organizations, such as FERUS and the CAP-LOUP collective.

If you also defend this animal cause, you can express it, notably through your clothing style, such as wearing a wolf cap.


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