The wolf, also known as the grey wolf or gray wolf, is a large canine native to North America and Eurasia. More than thirty subspecies of wolves have been recognized, and gray wolves, as understood, comprise non-feral/domestic subspecies. The wolf is the most prominent extant member of the family Canidae, males averaging 88 lb (40 kg) and females 82 lb (37 kg). Wolves measure 41–63 in (105–160 cm) in length and 31–33 in (80–85 cm ) at shoulder height. The wolf is also recognized from other Canis species by a shorter torso, its less pointed ears and muzzle, and a longer tail. The wolf is extremely closely related to smaller Canis species, such as the golden jackal and the coyote, to produce fertile hybrids. The banded fur of a wolf is usually brown, mottled white, black, and gray, although subspecies in the arctic area may be almost all white.
Wolves are not wild dogs, contrary to popular belief! Although dogs and wolves share many characteristics and a common ancestor, they are labeled as different animals: Canis lupus familiaris (the domestic dog) and Canis lupus (the gray wolf). Wolves and dogs each have many subspecies or breeds.
I guess we all agree here when I say there’s nothing quite so exciting as the social communications in the wolf pack. Wolves live in groups of about 6 to 12 members. Pack formation is likely because wolves are profoundly social creatures that form strong bonds with one another. One of how wolves communicate is through howling. A wolf’s howl is a vocalization, which means that it’s a sound produced to communicate. But what are they talking about, and with whom? Wolves howl to share their location with other pack members and ward off rivaling packs from their region. It’s also been found that wolves will howl to their own pack members out of love, passion, and affection rather than anxiety.
Wolf packs tend to declare large territories for themselves, particularly if the prey is limited. These territories can be as large as 1,200 square miles (3,000 square km). Wolves may separate from their packs when going for a hunt, so howling becomes an efficient way to communicate about location. A wolf’s howl can carry up to 10 miles (16 km) in the open tundra and somewhat less in thickly wooded areas.
Another kind of howl is an aggressive howl to enemy packs. It warns other individuals or packs of wolves in the territory to stay away from the region. A pack will also mark territory by using feces and urine.