(I made this because you never really hear about all the different breeds of wolf and it is so interesting to learn about these beautiful, magical creatures!)
The Gray Wolf is the type of wolf that most people are familiar with. There are many many many different subspecies of the Gray Wolf all over the world, some might even argue that the Artic Wolf and Alexander Archipelago Wolf are just subspecies of the Gray Wolf. The Grey Wolf has been the notorious villain of fables and fairy stories for centuries, yet this highly intelligent, beautiful and sociable animal has done little to earn its terrifying reputation. Gray wolves are the largest canids, on average, adults have a nose-to-tail length between 4.5ft and 6ft, 3ft high, and a weight measuring between 50 and 120lbs. As their range indicates, gray wolves are able to live in many biomes, from Arctic tundra to dense forests, to mountains, to dry shrublands. DNA sequencing now shows that domestic dogs, once thought to be bred from a mix of canids, in fact descended solely from Gray Wolves!
The Arctic Wolf is one of the few mammals that can survive some of the most inhospitable terrain in the world where the air temperature rarely rises above -30 degrees C where the ground is permanently frozen. Arctic wolves are usually smaller than gray wolves, and also have smaller ears, slightly shorter muzzles, and shorter legs to reduce exposure to the frigid air. They live alone or in packs of about 6 wolves and are usually all white with a very thick, insulating coat. They live along the northern edge of the North American continent and northward to the North Pole, as well as along the eastern and northern shores of Greenland.
Alexander Archipelago Wolf (Canis lupus ligoni)
The Alexander Archipelago wolf is named for the island group that makes up most of Southeast Alaska, the Alexander Archipelago. They are very rare, with an estimated population of fewer than 1,000 in the 1990s. They are found in coastal southeast Alaska (a large portion of them reside within Alaska’s Tongass National Forest) and and on all the major islands in the Alexander Archipelago. These “island wolves” are small wolves with course, short hair which is usually either black or another rather dark color. They average about 3 1/2 feet long, 2 feet high, weighing 30 to 50 pounds.
The red wolf is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the gray wolf. They are found in the coastal marshlands of southern parts of eastern North America. The red wolf is generally smaller in size than the grey wolf which is found in more northern parts of North America. Red wolves are named for their cinnamon coloured fur, which is brownish-red with dark patches on their backs. Red wolves also have broad noses and large looking ears for the size of their head. Today, the red wolf is no longer extinct in the wild since their reintroduction to North Carolina in 1987, and the population their is now thought to be just over 100 red wolf individuals. Nevertheless, the red wolf is still considered to be a critically endangered animal and is regarded as the 10th most endangered animal species in the world.
Due to the physical appearance of the Ethiopian Wolf it is often mistaken for either a fox or a jackal. They are a medium sized wolf with very long legs and a muzzle that is more pointed and elongated than most other wolf species. They also feature ears that are very pointed and a tail that is shorter and thicker at the end than other types of wolves. They can have a variety of colors but are mostly red. The color often gets darker with age. This particular species of wolf is only found around the areas of Africa, namely Ethiopia which is where their namesake comes from. Sadly, there are only about seven locations in the area that are believed to still be home to them. Most of them reside in the mountain terrain but they have also been identified on the plains.
The Maned Wolf is the tallest of the wild canids. The long legs are probably an adaptation to the tall grasslands of its native habitat. The Maned Wolf is unlike any other canids and many will argue is technically not a wolf. It is closely related to wolves, foxes and bush dogs. And so, the Maned Wolf is the only species in it’s genus. It has a very different appearance than the wolves we are used to seeing, and more closely resembles a fox than a wolf. The maned wolf is a South American native whose range extends from the Amazon basin rain forest in Brazil to the dry shrub forests of Paraguay and northern Argentina. Maned wolves have chestnut red fur covering rather large bodies, and black fur on their long, slender legs, feet and muzzle. They have long dark fur running down their necks and back which they can stand on end to give the appearance of a mane. The maned wolf also differs from all other wolf breeds in diet and temperament. These gentle and very timid wolves are solitary by nature. Only during the breeding season would you generally see more than one at a time. The maned wolf is omnivorous, eating a combination of fruits, vegetables and meat.