All About the Arctic Wolf

The Arctic Wolf is also known as a White Wolf or Polar Wolf. It’s a mammal found in the Canidae family. This wolf survives in a climate and environment that isn’t ideal for most other wolf species.

What You Should Know

The Arctic Wolf lives in the northern areas of North America and Greenland. Both this and the Timber Wolf are the only Grey Wolf subspecies that are found in this range.

It’s believed that the Arctic Wolf likes to be alone, but that simply isn’t factual. When they are seen alone, it’s only because they are hunting for food. When they aren’t looking to eat, they stay with the pack. Sometimes this is only a couple of wolves, but it can reach up to twenty.

Wolves are territorial, but some have hundreds of miles included in their home range. Because of this, they will allow other packs to overlap the territory slightly.

There is a limited food supply in the arctic. When available, the wolf eats muskoxen and caribou. Because these species are larger, it requires multiple wolves to take it down. With the wolves’ sharp teeth, it’s simple for them to rip into the flesh and crunch the bones quickly after capture. In one sitting, they will eat 20 pounds of meat. At times, the Arctic Wolf has to go weeks without food, because of the environment.

What Sound Do They Make?

The arctic wolf makes the same sound as other animals from this family. You will hear them bark, whimper, growl, and howl. Some of them often sound like a combination of two at the same time, such as a growl-bark or bark-howl.

Listen to the Arctic Wolf howl with this video.

Group Characteristics

In small packs, only the alpha male and female wolves breed. In larger packs, others might also mate. Due to the permafrost soil, the Arctic Wolf typically uses caves, shallow depressions, and rock outcroppings as a den. The mother births two to three pups later in May or early in June. Then, the pups remain with the mom for two years.

When the wolf pup is born, it has dark fur and blue eyes. These change to yellow-gold when the pup reaches between eight and 16 weeks.

Most Arctic Wolves live to be about seven to ten years old in the wild and 18 years old in captivity.

How Many are There?

We don’t have an exact number on how many Arctic Wolves exist, but we know they are labeled as Least Concern. Because of the isolation, the arctic wolf doesn’t face many threats. It rarely comes in contact with humans, so there’s less chance of hunting.

Its biggest threat is climate change. The more weather variation that exists, the harder it is to find food. Another danger is industrial development. More mines, pipelines, and roads continue to be built which disrupts the food supply of the Arctic Wolf.

Watch a Video

In this first video, National Geographic Wild captured a new family outing of Arctic Wolves.

You can also learn 13 fun facts about the arctic wolf.

Pop Culture

Probably the most well-known movie that included Arctic Wolves is the 1983 Walt Disney Never Cry Wolf. It was centered around a researcher sent to the Arctic to study the wolves who were reducing the caribou population. It’s also possible to see Arctic Wolves at zoos across the country.

Interesting Facts

Arctic wolves have a smaller body than the grey wolf. It’s also easy to spot their shorter muzzles and smaller ears. It’s believed that these parts evolved to be smaller so that the animal could retain more body heat.