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The Arctic wolf is a sub-species of the grey wolf and lives in the Arctic regions of North America and Greenland.

Key Facts
Common name
Common Name

Arctic wolf, polar wolf, white wolf

Latin name

Scientific Name

Canis lupus arctos

White wolf of the North
Thanks to its isolation, the arctic wolf is not threatened by hunting and habitat destruction like its southern relatives.  In fact, the arctic wolf is the only sub-species of wolf that is not threatened.

Physical Description
Arctic wolves are smaller than grey wolves, They also have smaller ears and shorter muzzles to retain body heat.

Length: about 1-1.8m, including tail.
Weight: 45-70kg

The arctic wolf lives mainly on muskox, Arctic hares and caribou.

As the permafrost (permanently frozen ground) prevents the Arctic wolf from digging a den, they typically live in rocky outcrops or caves. Each year the mother wolf gives birth to two or three pups.

Arctic regions of North Amercia and Greenland.

What are the main threats?
Unlike other species of wolf, the Arctic wolf rarely comes into contact with human so does not face the threat of hunting or persecution. However, the greatest threat to the Arctic wolf is climate change. Extreme weather variations in recent years have made it difficult for populations of muskox and Arctic hares to find food, and this has caused a decline in numbers. In turn, this has reduced the traditional food supply of the Arctic wolf.

Industrial development also poses a threat to the wolf, as an increasing number of mines, roads and pipelines encroach on the wolf’s territory, and interrupt its food supply.
Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos) 
© Staffan Widstrand
Arctic wolf (Canis lupus arctos)
© Staffan Widstrand

What is WWF doing?

  • WWF is working with its many partners - governments, business and communities across the Arctic to combat the threats facing the region and to preserve its rich biodiversity.

Priority region

How you can help
  • Don't contribute to global warming - make sure you do all you can to reduce your impact on the planet.
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Did you know?

  • The Arctic wolf is able to withstand sub-zero temperatures and up to 5 months of absolute darkness a year.
  • During the winter the Arctic wolf grows a second layer of fur for protection against the harsh conditions.