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Wolf Body Language

  • Affection – nose-pushing; touching with forepaw; jaw-wrestling; cheek rubbing; facial licking
  • Afraid – wolf tries to make their body smaller; ears flat on the head; tail tucked between the legs; arched back; whines or makes short, sharp barks; runs away with its tail between its legs
  • Angry – ears erect; fur bristles; lips up and curled back to reveal incisors; snarls; wolf crouches as it prepares to attack; tail held stiffly and horizontally
  • Calm – tail points straight down; wolf sits or lays down on its side; wags tail slightly
  • Dominant – wolf stands tall; ears erect and forward; fur bristles; tail held vertically; stares at submissive wolves; may bark and growl. Asserting dominance: dominant wolf will bite the neck of the inferior wolf and hold it for a moment or bite the snout of the inferior wolf
  • Happy – tail wags slightly; tongue lolls out of mouth
  • Nervous – wolf narrows eyes; ears flat against the head; tail is parallel to the ground
  • Playful – tail is high and wags; wolf frolics around; may lay low while holding the rear high in a manner reminiscent of domestic dogs; littermates may bite each others’ jaws
  • Active submission: body is lowered; lips and ears drawn back; tongue thrust in and out of the mouth rapidly; tail placed down or between the legs; muzzle points toward dominant animal; submissive wolf may lick the muzzle of the dominant wolf; the more the back arches and the tail tucks, the more submissive the wolf is; sometimes used as a form of greeting
  • Passive submission: wolf rolls on its back to expose throat and belly; paws drawn into the body; wolf whimpers

Check out the International Wolf Center on YouTube for some really great videos.


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Wolf Body Language
Affection – nose-pushing; touching with forepaw; jaw-wrestling; cheek rubbing; facial licking Afraid – wolf tries to make their body smaller; ears flat on the head; tail tucked between the legs; arched back; whines or makes short, sharp barks; runs away with its tail between its legs Angry – ears er...
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