On a general view reminds a large prick-eared dog like a German shepherd. Legs are long, strong. The head is rather broad-fronted, the muzzle wide, is less pointed, than at many breeds of dog. The forward part of a body is slightly higher than back. The tail is shorter than a half of length of a body, hangs down and is densely trimmed. Winter fur dense, long. The general coloring — from light, sometimes almost white, to dark brownish-sulfur, sometimes almost black. On sides, a belly and extremities coloring of fur, as a rule, lighter, often yellow-white. Coloring of a back and a nape, it is frequent also a tail, more dark. On extremities and the head of some wolves impurity of rusty-brown coloring is usual.
Total length of a body is a little various at different subspecies. For the European wolf length about 155 — 160 cm, a tail of 40 — 42 cm is considered characteristic, height in shoulders is higher than 55 cm, the weight of 45 — 60 kg, occasionally it is more. Males are slightly larger than females. Wolf cubs are covered with a short, fluffy fur cover. Coloring their quite monophonic, dark, brownish-gray, brightens with age. The summer fur is shorter and more rough than winter; coloring is more dim, gray and sand or yellowish shades strongly act.
The molt occurs in the spring, about a May begins. Earlier indumentum of forward part of a body thins. In the summer the underfur is developed extremely poorly, an awn rare, rough; in general indumentum is rare. A tail with short fur. In the fall, about a September, the underfur begins to be restored again. Rather long remains poorly trimmed a tail; it becomes covered by magnificent fur only by the time of full development of winter fur when the awn is long, soft, dense. The underfur then too is very dense, on withers grow a long thick hair.
The trace of a wolf is generally similar to a trace of a large dog, differing only in some oblongness and bigger clearness; prints of middle fingers are pushed forward slightly more, prints of small pillows of lateral fingers the forward ends hardly come for the back ends of prints of average small pillows. Most often the wolf moves a small lynx, and his traces are extended to one line. Hind legs precisely gets to traces of lobbies. As the amble at a wolf — extremely unusual occurrence, the right hind leg he gets to a trace of the left lobby, and the left back — in a trace of the right lobby. When wolves go pack, back go precisely in traces of lobbies. Therefore the quantity of traces does not change with increase in pack, however about number of wolves it is possible to judge to some extent by depth of traces in snow. At the movement the wolf walks not so correctly, coincidence of traces of lobbies and hinder legs does not happen, traces do not settle down to one line. At the movement by jumps the wolf leaves wider print of each paw as it at the same time rastopyrivat fingers. Kal of a wolf same, as at a large dog.
Within the country the wolf meets more or less everywhere, except for a dense taiga, avoiding areas with deep snow cover. It is almost exterminated by places, here and there is quite numerous. On islands of the Ledovity ocean it only incidentally runs. In historical time the wolf inhabited all Europe, but subsequently was destroyed in England, Holland, the most part of France and Germany. In Asia there is no wolf in the southern Arabia, the Dean, Indo-China and in the southern China. In North America the wolf is extended from the coast of the Ledovity ocean and islands of the Canadian archipelago to the South to Mexico.
At variety of conditions on the huge space inhabited by a wolf he naturally forms a number of subspecies. Their studying is not finished. For borders of the country the following subspecies are given.
Ordinary wolf, large sizes. Coloring of yellowish-gray and more dark gray-brown tones. Color of the top part of a trunk and head is usually more dark as the ends of awns at bigger or smaller distance are painted in dark-brown or black color. Inhabits Europe, except for the southern peninsulas, and Cisural area. Wolves of a steppe strip, in comparison with forest, have lighter, whitish-gray wool in the winter. Wolves of forest part of Siberia are close to typical race, but they, as well as priamursky until are a little studied.
Tundra wolf, large sizes. Fur cover dense, long; underfur dense. All coloring very light. Sometimes purely white copies meet, but coloring is more often happens dark, varying from grayish-white to gray, at some on a back even to blackish shades. Brown tone almost completely are absent. It is widespread in Bolshezemelskaya Tundra and on all North of Siberia in a zone of the tundra and krivolesye to Chukotka Peninsula inclusive. Wolves of light coloring meet and in the West: on the Kola peninsula and in the north of Scandinavia, but whether they are identical with the Siberian or differ from them, still it is not established. Lighter wolves live also in the Arctic part of North America.
Caucasian wolf, much more small than northern races. Differs in more rather dirty and dim coloring of fur. Inhabits all Caucasus and Transcaucasia. Probably, the same subspecies are widespread in Asia Minor and in northern Iran.
The wolf easily adapts to existence in the conditions of various landscapes. He inhabits steppes, semi-deserts, the woods though he within a taiga zone is more rare and continuous dense forests avoids. In mountains it is widespread from a foot to area of the Alpine meadows, adhering to the open, poorly crossed sites; also avoids rocky gorges. Everywhere can close approach housing of the person. In a taiga zone extends after the person. Where before a wolf was not, after the settlement of the person and in process of cutting down of a taiga the wolf appears. In open steppes and the tundra, in the conditions of nomadic animal husbandry, wolves also quite often follow the moving herds of a livestock or domestic deer.
The young growth is removed in the covered places: in a forest strip — mainly in a dense bush, on manes among fenny bogs; in steppes — on an overgrown bush to ravines, beams and dry reed thickets at lakes; in the tundra where the wolf is ordinary — on hills and mountains.
Wolf — a vagrant animal and, having lodged in one place, next year can arrange a den in absolutely other area. In several years the wolf can appear on the old place again. For the device of a den and withdrawal of posterity the wolf needs a secluded site and enough a forage. During feeding of young people the wolf leads more settled life, but in the rest of the time roams without any correct, constant ways. Only in the conditions of the North and mountains of its movement have more natural character. So, in the tundra the wolf comes further on the North in the summer, going down by winter in the southern parts of the tundra, in a zone of a krivolesye and even the suburb of a taiga. In mountains the wolf rises by summer in the top belt of the woods and by the Alpine meadows, for the winter goes down to the foothills and even in the lowland, for example in the Caucasus — to coasts of the Caspian and Black seas.
Techka at wolves in the Caucasus comes from the beginning of January — sometimes since the end of December — until the end of February; in average areas of the European part of the country — in January and February; in the north of the country — in February and March. At young she-wolves two-year-olds the techka comes a little later, than at old. Pairing is followed by fights between males. For a techka young (pribyly) wolf cubs are driven away. Old are grouped in pairs. Quite often couples connect for a long time, i.e. a certain female lives with the same male for a number of years. Pregnancy of a she-wolf, as well as dog, 61 — 65 days. For a conclusion of children wolves often use natural deepenings, for example under roots of the fallen tree, and also the holes dug by other animals: badgers, foxes. These others holes extend, increase previously. In the absence of a ready den wolves occasionally dig holes. The she-wolf gives birth to 3 — 12 wolf cubs, is more often than them there is 4 — 7. Terms of a child-bearing are in full compliance with terms of a techka and fluctuate from a half of March till May. Wolf cubs are born blind people and begin to see clearly only on 11 — the 13th day. On the second month they begin to eat the meat food delivered by parents. The male and a female take continuous part in care of cubs also.
By the end of summer young people (pribyly) begin to take part in hunting together with adults. At this time the wolf cubs who were born in previous year (pereyarka) and driven away for the period of a child-bearing join a family. The pack keeps together during the fall and at the beginning of winter prior to the beginning of a techka when the former pereyarka participate in reproduction, and pribyly are temporarily driven away. The pack of wolves during an autumn and winter season can consist of two old men, 3 — 6 pribyly and 2 — 4 pereyarok, all, therefore, from 7 — 12 individuals, is rare more that depends on bigger number of young people of this or that age. Stories about the big wandering packs are based on inexact supervision.
Since fall at wolves nomadic life in search of production begins. For one night wolves can otkochevat on several tens kilometers. If the production providing pack for several days is found: a corpse of a horse, cow — wolves for a while stop the movement.
Generally the wolf eats large mammals: deer, kozulyam, boars. On old hogs, large odints or wolves seldom decide to attack herd of boars, preferring to grab lagged behind herd young. In places where the wolf lives near from settlements, cows, horses, pigs, rams and especially dogs strongly suffer from him. In search of food wolves venture to come into settlements. However, eating generally large catch, wolves eat also smaller: birds, hares and mouse-like rodents especially as large mammals, except for house, seldom meet in so large numbers to provide a wolf with continuous production. During the periods of a beskormitsa wolves eat reptiles, frogs and even large insects. At last, it is well-known that the wolf does not disdain drop. Being the real carnivorous animal, he nevertheless eats also vegetable food, sometimes in large numbers. To food to a wolf there are first of all various berries and fruits; in the Caucasus, for example, a pear, a cherry plum, grapes, in Zavolzhye — water-melons. The case of production of a wolf on the corn field is known, and his stomach was completely filled by corncobs.
Daily life of wolves strongly changes depending on a surrounding situation. Near settlements where the wolf can easier catch sight, he comes for hunting mainly at night; in the districts remote from the person, hunts at any time. While wolf cubs are young, wolves prefer to come for hunting at night. At first after a child-bearing the she-wolf in general from wolf cubs does not leave. It is not possible to notice more correct change of behavior of a wolf in different hours of days.
Out of external feelings at a wolf the hearing is best of all developed, it is a little worse — sense of smell; sight is much weaker. A voice of a wolf — lingering howl, resembling howl dogs. The voice of a male is more rough, lower, than at a female; at young people is higher, than at old men, sometimes alternates with bark sounds. It is possible to determine by voices of wolves with a big accuracy structure of a family of a wolf. Evening and morning dawns when all family regularly arranges howling "concert" are for this purpose used.
The wolf is strong, hardy on the run, can long pursue production. At the same time he is able to tire out even such animals as a deer capable to develop big speed, but not on big distances. It especially belongs to the end of winter, after thaw when run of a deer is late the fact that the crust cannot stand him, the wolf through a crust does not fail. On friable forest snow, 60 — 70 cm in depth, the wolf moves hardly. Therefore it does not keep in multisnow regions of a taiga. At big snowfalls wolves quite often come out of the wood in the field or move on roads.
Attacking herd, wolves often cut several animals, breaking off it a throat or unstitching a belly. They start production eating only when the herd runs up. Such bloodthirstiness is explained by the fact that wolves not always regularly get food. Cases, especially in the winter, enough long hunger strikes are not rare. The hungry animal cuts more animals, than can eat for once: it provides these itself(himself) with a forage for some time.
Mentally the wolf is developed highly. It is expressed in ability to be guided in a situation and to leave from danger, and also in ways of its hunting. Cases when the pack of wolves was divided are known, and one part remained in an ambush, and another made up on it for production. Wolves are easily tamed, being even taken by adults.
Crossing cases with dogs as in bondage, and under natural conditions are not rare.
The wolf among animals in effect has no enemies. Bears, large boars, in certain cases elks can resist to attack of a wolf though each of these animals can fall prey of hungry pack of wolves.