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Wolf Behavior

Image credit: NPS

Body Language

Wolves have a variety of different communication factors to express hierarchy and submission. 

Physical Behavior - Dominant wolves (typically the breeding pair) will display characteristics of hierachy by exhibiting physical body language traits. Posture plays a significant role in distinguishing a dominant wolf from a submissive wolf. High-ranking wolves will hold their tail high and stand tall. Submissive wolves (normally the offspring of the breeding pair) will display submission by tail tucking, crouching, flattened ears, and mouth licking. A submissive wolf will also expose it's underside to a dominant wolf. 

Tail Language -  A wolf's tail tells a lot about the animal's mood, and even their hierachy. A full wagging tail is a sign of a content wolf, but a tail swaying back and forth at the tip is conveying an anxious, aggressive, or stressed animal. A tucked tail can represent submission or fear, and a stiff tail is normally a sign that the wolf is feeling threatened or in distress.


Image credit: WCC


Image credit: WCC


Wolves communicate through vocalizations that represent hiearchy, conveying distress, a warning to stranger wolves, and more.

Howling - Howling is an iconic characteristic that is 
attributed to wolves. When a wolf pack howls, its usually expressing close-nit bonds between the wolves within the family group. Wolves also howl to keep stranger wolves away from their territory. When a family member dies, the pack will mourn that wolf's death.

Lone Wolf Howling - A lone wolf, typically a dispersing juvenile, howls to alert other wolves and wolf packs in the area.

Growling - Growling is almost always to demonstrate fear or aggression. When wolves are threatened, they may bare their teeth and growl to ward off the threat.

Whining/Whimpering - Wolves whine to express friendliness or indicate submission.


Image credit: NPS

Image credit: NPS

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