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: http://on.natgeo.com/1ZBjtpp)
  1. 1.
    Making Strides
    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. 2.
    The maned wolf’s long legs let it see over the tall grasses of central South America. Its pungent urine—which smells like marijuana (bit.ly/1jpTNLy)—contains high levels of 2,5-dimethylpyrazine, an odorant that acts as a territorial warning. (Photograph by Joel Sartore, National Geographic Creative)
  3. 3.
    Going Solo
    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. 4.
    We Are Family
    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. 5.
    Northern Alight
    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. 6.
    You Can't Sit With Us
    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. 7.
    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. 8.
    Family Traits by Barrett Hedges
    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. 9.
    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 (bit.ly/1QBSV1L). (Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic Creative)
  10. 10.
    Last of Their Kind?
    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. 11.
    On the Road Again
    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. 12.
    Pup Squeak
    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)