Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos)

polarwolf004Arctic Wolf By Copyright© Ralf Schmode,

Arctic Wolf (Canis lupus arctos)  – (Pockock 1935)

Common Names: Melville Island Wolf

Overall population: Unknown, least concern in terms of population stability except in Greenland.

Physical description: The Arctic Wolf is almost pure white with tinges of yellow, grey and black coloring in its fur. The fur coat has two layers; the under layer providing warmth and waterproofing and an outer layer that thickens in winter to guard against the subzero temperatures. Arctic wolves have proportionally smaller ears to help retain body heat. They have padded feet adapted to grip frozen ground and ice. Arctic wolves can have brown eyes/irises.

Original range – Canadian Arctic Archipelago,
Current range – Melville Island to Ellesmere Island

Habitat / Ecology / Prey:
Habitat – frozen tundra
Ecology –
Prey – caribou (Rangifer tarandus), muskoxen (Ovibos moschatus; Inuktitut: ᐅᒥᖕᒪᒃ, umingmak), Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus), lemmings (Dicrostonyx groenlandicus), Arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus), snow goose (Anser caerulescens)

Unique behaviors: Arctic wolves can unusually lack a fear of humans.

Legal and Cultural Background:

Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna

Taxonomic/Genetic Information:


Further Reading
L. David Mech (text), Jim Brandenburg (photos) (May 1987). At Home With the Arctic Wolf. National Geographic 171(5):562–593.
L. David Mech (1997). The Arctic Wolf: 10 Years With the Pack, Voyageur Press, ISBN 0-89658-353-8 .

Journal / Scientific Publications:

The analysis of morphometric data on rocky mountain wolves and artic wolves using statistical method. Shafi MA, Rusiman MS, Hamzah NS, Nor ME, Azmi NA, Ab Latip MF, Azman AH. InJournal of Physics: Conference Series 2018 Apr

Exploring the diet of arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos) at their northern range limit. Dalerum F, Freire S, Angerbjörn A, Lecomte N, Lindgren Å, Meijer T, Pečnerová P, Dalén L. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 2017 Oct

Invasion of eastern Greenland by the high arctic wolf Canis lupus arctos. Marquard-Petersen U. Wildlife biology. 2011 Dec

Possible use of foresight, understanding, and planning by wolves hunting muskoxen. Arctic. Mech LD. 2007 Jun

Annual arctic wolf pack size related to arctic hare numbers; LD Mech – Arctic, 2007 – JSTOR

Regurgitative food transfer among wild wolves; LD Mech, PC Wolf, JM Packard – Canadian Journal of …, 1999 –

Food Habits of Arctic Wolves in Greenland; Ulf Marquard-Petersen; Journal of Mammalogy; Vol. 79, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 236-244; Published by: American Society of Mammalogists

Summer movements and behavior of an arctic wolf, Canis lupus, pack without pups; LD Mech – Canadian Field-Naturalist, 1995

A ten-year history of the demography and productivity of an arctic wolf pack; LD Mech – Arctic, 1995

Regular and homeward travel speeds of arctic wolves
LD Mech – Journal of Mammalogy, 1994

Changes in the skull morphology of the Arctic wolf, Canis lupus arctos, during the twentieth century; J Clutton‐Brock, AC Kitchener, JM Lynch – Journal of Zoology, 1994 –

The high arctic wolf in the Jones Sound region of the Canadian High Arctic; RR Riewe – Arctic, 1975

Wolf milk. I. Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos) and husky milk: gross composition and fatty acid constitution; BH Lauer, E Kuyt, BE Baker – Canadian journal of zoology, 1969 – NRC Research Press