Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Discuss wolves (news, sightings, etc.).

Moderators: Isela, Koa

User avatar
Blightwolf
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3478
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:20 am

Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Blightwolf » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:47 am

Wolf fur is usually gray or brown mixed with black, white and tan. During the winter, fur gets darker on the neck and rump. Wolf pups are born with fuzzy, dark hair. As they get older, their hair lightens. Old wolves have gray-white hair.

The color of a wolf's fur can vary, although gray is the most common color. Wolves may also have black, reddish or white fur. In fact, the wolf has one of the widest ranges of color of any mammal in North America. The color helps to camouflage the wolf by allowing it to blend into its surroundings. Wolves that live in dark wooded areas, often have dark fur. In places where the plants change colors throughout the year, the wolves that inhabit the area can have fur of many shades of color.

The Red Wolf (Canis rufus) and the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus) are the two species of wolf found in North America. Notice the differences in both the color and length of fur.

Wolves have two kinds of hairs. There are the long, stiff hairs of the outer coat, called "guard hairs". Wolves also have an "undercoat" of soft fur which grows thick in the winter and helps to insulate its body from the cold. This hair is shed in the spring and summer in large sheets and hunks.

The outer layer of hair lies in three "capes" on the wolf's back. These hairs grow in bundles and may be nearly five inches long. Water runs off a wolf's fur, keeping its underfur dry and warm. These layers of fur may be nearly two and a half inches thick and help keep a wolf warm even in temperatures reaching 40 degrees (F) below zero. The wolf will also use its tail to keep warm in winter by wrapping it around its face when lying down.

Wolves use their hair to communicate. By raising or flattening its hair, a wolf may signal aggression, anger or dominance. By holding its "hackles", or the hair on the back of its neck, stiff, for instance, a wolf signals aggression or dominance. The hair around the face can also puff out making the wolf's aggressive stare look even larger to a potential enemy.

Source: http://clustera.cesa10.k12.wi.us/cluste ... st/fur.htm
Wolf fur color may range from pure black to pure white, with any tint or shade of gray, tan, cream, ocher (yellow-gold), sienna (reddish brown), and brown between. On wolves having light and dark-patterned fur, the markings tend to be lighter on the ventral (belly) side of the body and graduate to darker/longer/thicker fur on the dorsal (back) side. The ears, forehead, and top of the muzzle are usually of a short/course/lighter fur, mingled of dark and/or mid pelage tones with the underside of the muzzle and throat being of lighter pelage tones. The legs and paws also have short/course/lighter fur. The tail is generally covered with a long/thick/bushy fur, the color scheme being similar to that of the rest of the wolf; dark on top and lighter on the bottom. Light-colored wolves may even have a dark spot of fur covering the precaudal scent gland.

Source: http://www.runningwiththewolves.org/
Wolf Pelage Material
(The texture of the fur undergoes transitions from the wolf's nose to the tip of its tail)

Nose & Legs: Short, velvet-like fur
Neck: Thick and long fur
Ventral: Clumped and long fur
Dorsal: Medium-length fur
Tail: Bushy fur

The colorization is unique through the entire length of the body and each hair follicle has unique color ticking from root to tip.

Color Samples

http://www.runningwiththewolves.org/ima ... amples.jpg
http://www.runningwiththewolves.org/ima ... rkings.jpg
http://www.runningwiththewolves.org/ima ... -color.jpg
http://www.runningwiththewolves.org/ima ... -phase.jpg

Wolf Coat Reference

http://i39.tinypic.com/fa36fa.jpg
Last edited by Blightwolf on Fri Jul 23, 2010 7:59 am, edited 3 times in total.
AUGUST 2009 USER OF THE MONTH

Aurora Alaska
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3691
Joined: Mon Jan 05, 2009 2:47 pm
Gender: Female
Location: Being in Aurora's Place of Absolute Excitement and Dullness and Oxymorons

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Aurora Alaska » Tue Aug 11, 2009 5:56 am

I beleive that this will be a very helpful topic Embry, and thank you for posting it.
Many useful info, I hardly most of it, espesially about the darker fur color and pup fur and undercoats.
Aurora
Avatar by Kyla6 ~ Thank you!
Hope is a shining beacon. Let it lead you to your true place. Let it guide your soul.

User avatar
paperpaws
WolfQuest Moderator
WolfQuest Moderator
Posts: 4424
Joined: Mon Oct 27, 2008 12:44 pm
Contact:

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by paperpaws » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:40 am

Old wolves have grey-white hair.
Really gray or more their base fur color with a grey tint? Thanks for the information though, Embry!
wyrd bið ful aræd
* inactive until further notice due to time and hardware limitations

User avatar
Blightwolf
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3478
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:20 am

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Blightwolf » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:44 am

It depends on the wolf's original color. i.e, a white wolf would have grey hair on its facial areas and on maybe also on its chest and front legs.

http://www.runningwiththewolves.org/ima ... -phase.jpg this is a comparison picture taken of a black-brownish wolf and right next to it it's the same wolf almost ten years later; you see how drastic the difference is.

The darker the wolf is, the more greyer/whiter hair it gets once it's getting older.
AUGUST 2009 USER OF THE MONTH

Sintact
Guest
Guest

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Sintact » Tue Aug 11, 2009 1:29 pm

That's really interesting information, Embry. Thanks for posting it. With dogs is the same thing. Some years ago my dog had a shinny light brown hair, not that she's old, she has all her underbelly almost white, same with her snout.

Hiedidog
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 617
Joined: Fri Nov 28, 2008 1:31 pm
Gender: Female
Location: California - USA

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Hiedidog » Tue Aug 11, 2009 4:13 pm

Interesting. I never knew that they didn't have dots above their eyes.
♥Kamisha♥

October 2009 Undine Falls Pack Member of the Month

User avatar
Blightwolf
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3478
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:20 am

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Blightwolf » Wed Aug 12, 2009 7:20 am

Sintact, yes. You can notice the signs of aging on a dog and a wolf judging from the fur color. My family used to own a golden brown Golden Retriever, he is now 8 years old and he's got a large tuft of white hair on his chest. His paws and muzzle are grey.

Hiedidog, "eyebrow dots" often occur with different dog breeds such as the Rottweiler or the Dobermann, or the sled-dog breeds, but rarely on pure-blooded wolves (exception to this is the wolf-dog, that can have dots above the eyes).

And as you can tell, the colors of a domestic dogs variate very much, whereas wolves tend to have much less exaggerated markings on their furs. Wolves don't bear much of stripes, splotches, spots, or ticks on their fur, or two-colored fur. Wolves can have irregular markings such as "eyehooks", (dark or light) rims around the eyes, dorsal stripes or face masks (this is common with black-brown wolves; they usually have a very black face and the rest of the fur is brown/bronze-colored and the legs also black.)
AUGUST 2009 USER OF THE MONTH

User avatar
Nor-easter Forecast
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 2577
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 9:16 am
Gender: Female
Location: Southwestern USA

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Nor-easter Forecast » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:14 am

Very interesting Embry, I will be sure to refer back to this one day.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
ˢ ʳ ˢ
ˢ ʳʸʰ ˢ ʰ
ˣ ˢ ʰˢ,
ʰ ʳʸʰ
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

av/sig/quote © coyoteflu/LupinzPack/patty griffin

User avatar
Blightwolf
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3478
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:20 am

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Blightwolf » Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:21 am

Thank you, Hoover, I am hoping people could use this when they are thinking of the colors and "markings" they could have on their characters in the wolf stories, etc. Or just checking if somebody wants to know all the possible fur colors and patterns.

I need to clear up one thing, though: I said wolves can have a dorsal stripe, which is true, but I would like to point out that it's not exactly the same as horses can have. With wolves, it's more like a dark area covering their backside, not a pararrel line along the back.
AUGUST 2009 USER OF THE MONTH

User avatar
Griffinsong
Sub-adult Wolf
Sub-adult Wolf
Posts: 500
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:57 pm
Gender: Other
Location: tumblr mostly

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Griffinsong » Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:34 pm

Thank you for posting this, Embry. It is very helpful.

User avatar
Blightwolf
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3478
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:20 am

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Blightwolf » Thu Aug 20, 2009 2:42 am

No problem, Griffinsong, just trying to be helpful. I know a lot of people are confused about wolf colors and markings so I wanted to clarify what's true and what's false by dedicating a topic for wolf fur patterns and colors.

Naturally, the colors and markings described above mostly occur in the Grey Wolf. Notable exceptions to the colors include Red Wolves and Iberian Wolves, which generally are just in one specific color: the white marks on the upper lips, the dark marks on the tail and a pair of dark marks in its front legs distinct Iberian Wolves from other wolf species.

Red Wolves' coat color ranges from brown to reddish and cinnamon with grey and black shading on the back and on tail. Muzzle is white furred around the lips. Black-colored Red Wolves have been recorded, but the black color seems to be totally absent in the current Red Wolf population and therefore black individuals are rare and/or extinct.
AUGUST 2009 USER OF THE MONTH

User avatar
[-Yuna-]
Hunter-in-training
Hunter-in-training
Posts: 211
Joined: Mon May 04, 2009 3:36 pm
Gender: Female
Location: Username was changed, I was formerly known as 'madm'.
Contact:

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by [-Yuna-] » Mon Oct 05, 2009 3:05 pm

Thank you Embry! I am doing a report for school on wolves, and this helped me a lot. I can onto WolfQuest to look on posts like these to see if I could find any information for my report. :D
Yuna: An adventurous loner.
ScarPaw: Alpha Male of the Twisted Fate pack!
FoxFur: Mischievous loner. Mate of Wolf.
Fell: Loner.
Gin: Loner.
Kairi: Alpha female od the Iris Creek pack.

www.dragcave.net/user/wolfpassionxo

Avatar by: Stonei. ^_^

User avatar
Maned_Wolf
Pup
Pup
Posts: 79
Joined: Sat Jun 13, 2009 2:13 pm

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Maned_Wolf » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:54 pm

Nice topic! :)

I came across this site,pictures of wolves(and I'm guessing some are wolfdogs) http://www.wolfsancpa.com/ourfamily.html#

Billy is really interesting looking,I'm surprised at how orange his eyes are or maybe it just stands out so much because of his fur. :shock:
Hark! hear the howl that eats the moon alive!

User avatar
Blightwolf
New Pack Member
New Pack Member
Posts: 3478
Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2008 5:20 am

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by Blightwolf » Tue Oct 06, 2009 4:18 am

Thanks for the link, Maned_Wolf.

Wolf-dogs tend to have slightly longer fur than ordinary wolves. Eyes, body shape and the color of the pelt is often magnified in wolf-dogs (although it depends on the amount of wolf blood and how recent is their ancestry).

Billy has extremely orange eyes, but on his biography, it is stated that he is a 100% wolf:
This handsome gray wolf is by far one of the sanctuary’s most photogenic. Billy is a brawny, well-built, majestic wolf who easily captures the attention of all who get to meet him. Although Billy is not currently on the tour, it is our goal that he will be in the near future.

Billy is the brother of Galahad (whom he shares his enclosure with), and Jethro, who passed away in 2006. They were separated from the main pack as pups for safety reasons; therefore, they rely on each other for the benefits that family brings them.

Billy has a shy, reserved nature about him when it comes to interacting with the staff at the sanctuary. He gives the impression of wanting contact, yet can be quite skittish upon approach. He is very good at getting the attention he so desires on his own terms. When communicating with Galahad; however, his expressions are eager, loving and affectionate.

Billy enjoys deer meat and hotdogs.
Blazer, Charbanae and Willow also have interesting markings and fur coloration.
AUGUST 2009 USER OF THE MONTH

xIRealizex
Guest
Guest

Re: Wolf Colors, Patterns and Markings

Post by xIRealizex » Tue Oct 06, 2009 7:25 am

Thanks for posting this, Emb-Emb.
I find it very helpful to get the actual info, on real wolf markings.
Them wolves are very beautiful ^^

These are some other links...

http://www.hsepb.com/ntrlrsrc/mexwolf/g ... wdwolf.jpg

http://www.projo.com/photos/20071014/ma ... 67FJ2H.jpg


Post Reply

Return to “General Wolf Discussion”