Arctic Wolf Facts

A wolf of the far north, the Arctic Wolf is a creature that inhabits frozen tundra. 

There are no threats to the Arctic wolf. They are smaller than grey wolves. The arctic wolf also has a shorter muzzle and smaller ears to help retain heat. In its natural habitat, it primarily eats muskox, caribou, and Arctic hares.

They are found in northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland, and Iceland. 

They live in remote, very cold places with temperatures below zero degrees Celsius. In the past, these animals were often pursued by commercial hunters from Europe. 

Like lots of other animals, the arctic wolf faces the rapid deterioration of its habitat due to climate change. 

Thankfully, the current population remains sizable, and the Arctic wolf is not on the endangered threat list.

Quick Navigation

Arctic Wolf Facts for Kids

  • They can grow up to 6 feet in length and weigh between 75 and 150 pounds.
  • They have a lifespan of 7 to 10 years in the wild and in captivity can live up to 20 years
  • Arctic wolves are carnivores.
  • Canis lupus arctos is their scientific name.
  • You’ll find them in the Arctic Circle, in Alaska, Iceland, as well as in Greenland.
  • Their ears are smaller, and they have shorter legs and snouts than gray wolves.
  • It feeds primarily on the Arctic fox, the Arctic hare, Moose, Caribou, Deer, and Elk
  • Their coat is thick and insulated against extreme cold temperatures
  • Arctic wolves can walk on frozen ground because of their thick, cushioned paws.
  • Their white coat is thick, protecting them from the cold. The inner layer keeps heat in, and the outer layer keeps the water out. In winter, the outer layer gets thicker to maintain body temperature.

Arctic Wolf Scientific Name

Arctic wolves are sometimes called white or polar wolves. 

The animal belongs to the Canidae family, and its class is Mammalia. Its scientific name is Canis Lupus Arctos. Its scientific name Lupus, translates to dog. 

A polar region is an Arctos. Although not having a separate subspecies, the Arctic wolf is closely related to grey wolves.

Arctic Wolf Habitat

They can be found in northern Canada, Iceland, Greenland, and. Alaska. Aside from low temperatures, in the Arctic, they tolerate darkness for 5 months per year. Hence, Arctic wolves have adjusted to living in darkness as well as coldness. 

Typically, arctic wolves live in caves or can obtain safety in outcroppings of rock. They cannot dig traditional dens because of the ground being frozen.

They grow a second layer of fur in the winter to keep themselves warm.

What do Arctic Wolf Eat

They feed primarily on the Arctic fox, the Arctic hare, Moose, Caribou, Deer, and Elk

Arctic wolves are much smaller than their distant relative, the gray wolf. They are not solitary hunters. When hunting bigger prey, they work in a pack. An entire pack of wolves will hunt down vulnerable members of the caribou or muskoxen herd and eat them. 

Food availability has a direct correlation with territory size. 

As prey numbers are low, these wolves must have areas that encompass more than 1,000 square miles, a territory that is greater than their southern cousins.

Arctic wolves take on large prey (caribou, muskoxen, etc.) in groups, but small prey (arctic hare, lemming, stuff such as that) on their own. 

Depending on the quantity and type of prey available, they will form groups of 2 to about 20 individuals or travel alone.

Wolves will consume a large mammal over the course of about 6-7 days.


Breeding within a pack is determined by the social structure. Wolf pups are usually born to dominant individuals in breeding pairs. Occasionally, a wolf pack may have multiple litters in the spring when prey is abundant. 

At the end of 61-63 days of gestation, puppies are born. They are blind and deaf but usually can hear after a little while (12-14 days). This usually happens late May, and 2-4 pups are born.

A wolf in the Arctic has fewer pups per litter than wolves in areas farther south. That’s probably because there’s not much prey in the Arctic.

When pups reach three to six weeks old, they usually leave the den and begin exploring the vicinity. Once their pups reach maturity, the pack will move to a more open area on their territory.

By autumn, the pups travel quicker and further and begin hunting with the pack. By the age of six to eight months, wolves can grow to adult size.

Due to the permafrost in the Arctic, It is hard for the wolves to dig their dens.

Rather, they build their dens in caves or holes in the tundra soil.

Behavior in the Wolf Pack

The wolf pack is among the most sophisticated social orders found in nature.

Typically, a wolf pack consists of two to four animals, a breeding pair of adults and they’re young, typically no more than one-year-old. 

Breeding pairs in the pack may be the biggest, oldest, and strongest wolves. 

Wolf packs generally have a dominant pair of wolves who produces pups.

All wolves are capable of being dominant. Then they just need to find an unoccupied territory and find a mate of the opposite sex.

Wolf body language is a way wolves communicate pack rules. In charge of the pack are the dominant male and female. 

Standing tall, they carry their tail high to communicate dominance. A less dominant wolf’s body language is submissive, holding her tail down and sometimes lowering her body while pawing at a more dominant wolf. 

Different vocalizations, postures, and scent marking are used to maintain a complex social hierarchy.

Wolves can travel for long periods of time at an average speed of 5 miles per hour while tracking prey in their territory. 

In the winter, wolf packs may cover up to 40 miles a day while on the hunt. They can reach top speeds of 40 mph for short sprints.