Intelligent and highly social, wolves fascinate us as the untamed predecessors to Man’s Best Friend. To celebrate National Wolf Awareness Week, we take a look at the majestic predators. (Full story:
  1. Making Strides
    26572a43 4db8 45ad 95ae e4cd2367d3df
    Gray wolves (Canis lupus) run through fresh snow in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The gray wolf was nearly poisoned to extinction in the contiguous U.S., but conservation efforts have grown the population to about 5,500 wolves. (Photograph by Jeff Vangua, National Geographic Creative)
  2. Lanky
    2a726482 b2b9 4342 bb27 2899be83b371
    The maned wolf’s long legs let it see over the tall grasses of central South America. Its pungent urine—which smells like marijuana (—contains high levels of 2,5-dimethylpyrazine, an odorant that acts as a territorial warning. (Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative)
  3. Going Solo
    D3e9dd2a b07c 4986 b636 be964bbe2179
    A lone gray wolf checks out bison to see if there is an easy meal. Generally, a mature wolf will leave its original pack once it reaches one to two years of age. (Photograph by Barrett Hedges, National Geographic Creative)
  4. We Are Family
    61b2930d b1e9 481a 8c7d 7df0c4fb6217
    As this 2002 National Geographic cover hints, wolves and Malteses have more in common than you might first expect. All dogs descend from domesticated wolves, a breeding process that likely began more than 27,000 years ago. (Photograph by Robert Clark, National Geographic Creative)
  5. Northern Alight
    Dc2c45b2 e249 4924 8fa7 e6ddc6a2cf5a
    An alpha male Arctic wolf bounds across the ice flows off of Canada’s Ellesmere Island. The Arctic wolf has a shorter muzzle and smaller ears than its southern relatives, which reduces the loss of body heat. (Photograph by James Brandenburg, National Geographic Creative)
  6. You Can't Sit With Us
    99a52252 3902 43f5 befc f8130f350a9c
    A captive gray wolf snarls while defending a deer carcass. A single wolf can eat up to nine kilograms (20 pounds) of meat in a single sitting. (Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative)
  7. Teamwork
    4fc241d8 66a3 428e 871d d33809ab902c
    A wolf pack isolates a bison cow on a thin layer of snow atop a frozen creek. Wolf packs are most successful in taking on bison when they have at least 12 to 13 wolves. Wolves typically prey on the young, old, sick, and injured bison. (Photograph by Dan Stahler, National Geographic Creative)
  8. Family Traits by Barrett Hedges
    74a040a8 1dc4 4a93 85da a757dcc14bee
    A black and gray wolf walk side by side. According to a 2009 study, black wolves got their distinctive dark fur by breeding with domestic dogs that accompanied humans to North America. (Photograph by Barrett Hedges, National Geographic Creative)
  9. Beachcombers
    03fd0516 dfdb 425f a07d 2c233603722e
    Coastal wolves on the shores of British Columbia’s outer islands have diets that vary with the tide; their meals range from barnacles to whale carcasses that wash ashore. For more, check out this month’s National Geographic Magazine ( (Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic Creative)
  10. Last of Their Kind?
    838b2109 4320 4395 9046 076c6611d43d
    Native to the country’s highlands, the Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), which is technically a jackal, is the world’s most endangered canid. Only six fragmented populations remain, the largest of which consists of about 300 individuals. (Photograph by Anup Shah, National Geographic Creative)
  11. On the Road Again
    A9a0b174 4320 4602 9a23 c434011eac21
    Gray wolves of the Malberg wolf pack near Ely, Minnesota walk on atop a frozen lake. The average wolf travels 25 to 32 kilometers (15 to 20 miles) per day in pursuit of food—and can run up to 70 km/hr (43 mph). (Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative)
  12. Pup Squeak
    01f9fc2a cfd1 4707 8a53 e44888bc9495
    When wolf pups (like this one on Canada’s Ellesmere Island) are born, they are deaf and blind. Pups don’t gain control of their hind legs until they’re three weeks old, forcing them to crawl in the meantime. (Photograph by Jim Brandenburg, National Geographic Creative)