What Are the Characteristics of a Wolf?

Wolves are carnivorous mammals that belong to the dog family. They are the largest members of this family and can weigh up to 175 pounds when fully grown. There are two types of wolves: gray wolves, which are the most common and are found throughout North America, and red wolves, which are only seen in a small area on the North Carolina coast.

Gray wolves are mottled gray and brown in color. They have long fur, bushy tails, long snouts and pointed ears on the tops of their heads. Sub-species of gray wolves that live in the arctic have white coats. Red wolves are similar in appearance, but their coats are a reddish brown, and they are slightly smaller in size than gray wolves.

Both types of wolves live in packs of between six and 10 animals, and a strict dominance hierarchy is established within each wolf pack. A dominant male typically leads the group. Wolves communicate with one another by howling. Although many people are afraid of wolves, they almost never attack humans, although they have been known to attack domestic animals. Wolves are often trapped and shot because of this fear, and this has contributed to the endangerment of their species. Habitat destruction is the other main factor that has contributed to declines in wolf populations.