Wolves are among the most complex species to have ever walked the earth. Aside from being incredibly intelligent, they also respect a certain hierarchy among their pack to work as a team and survive.
So, what is the role of the female wolf? The primary role of a female wolf is to reproduce and take care of its offspring. They often stay behind to nurse the young while the males go out to hunt. Nevertheless, she-wolves are excellent hunters and often join the males to search for food once the pups are big enough.
But aside from being great mothers, there’s so much more about female wolves that you can uncover. Can females be alphas? Why are she-wolves so important in Roman mythology? These are just some of the questions that this article will dive into.
Table of Contents
How Can You Tell a Male From a Female Wolf?
Female wolves are distinguishable because they have relatively smaller bodies compared to male wolves. To be more specific, here are the key distinctions between male and female wolves:
Size and Weight
On average, male wolves are noticeably bigger and bulkier than females. This is because the males are responsible for hunting, protecting the pack, and fighting for dominance. That makes them easy to spot when you’re observing wolves from a distance.
For your reference, here is a table to help you visualize their size differences.
|Male Wolf||Female Wolf|
|Length||Up to 6.5 feet||Up to 6 feet|
|Height||31 to 33 inches||26 to 32 inches|
|Weight||Up to 100 pounds||Up to 80 pounds|
Another notable distinction between male and female wolves lies in their fur. Male wolves are known to have longer and shaggier fur. It makes them appear fluffier than the females.
If you happen to be lucky enough to stand close to wolves, you can also observe the shape of their heads. Females have a narrower muzzle compared to the more squarish masculine muzzles of the males. This gives women a more fox-like head shape, making them more distinguishable up close.
Nevertheless, these distinctions may not always be accurate. This is especially true in the case of young male wolves who happen to look smaller than adult males.
The best way to determine a wolf’s gender is by looking at its genitals. Male wolves have visible penile sheaths at the bottom of the abdomen. From behind, they likewise have a pair of testes that hang low during the mating season – making them easy to spot from January through March.
Similarly, you can identify a female wolf if she has visibly engorged teats from nursing her pups. However, you can only spot these among adult she-wolves who have given birth.
Can a Female Wolf Be a Leader?
A female wolf can also be a leader. She-wolves are known for exerting dominance within the pack. Some are even responsible for leading. What’s interesting about wolves is that they take their roles in the hierarchy seriously, regardless of whether the leader is female, male, or both.
The female wolf leader is seen with respect, even by the males. She often leads the pack alongside her mate. While her main role is to give birth to pups, she is more than capable of hunting. In fact, when the pups are big enough, she often joins the males in search of food.
Can a Female Wolf Be an Alpha?
A female wolf can be an alpha. In most wolf packs, there is a recognized alpha pair, consisting of a male and female alpha. This alpha couple is acknowledged by the pack as their leaders and is the only pair who are entitled to reproduce during the mating season. This serves to control the number of members within the pack and to ensure that enough food goes around.
As such, it is easy to identify the alpha female since she is the only one who gives birth to pups. It can also be noted that other wolves, whether male or female, keep their heads low when around her to show respect.
What Is a Female Wolf Leader Called?
A female wolf leader is called the luna wolf. It remains a mystery today why female leaders are called luna. Some speculate that the name stems from the connection that wolves have with the moon – since “luna” means “moon” in Spanish.
On the other hand, it must also be noted that the Latin word for “wolf” is lupus, with the female term being “lupa.” It can be inferred that the term has simply evolved from its Latin name over the years.
What Does a Luna Wolf Do?
The luna wolf has many responsibilities within the pack. Primarily, she is responsible for reproduction and child-rearing.
Since the alpha pair is the only wolf couple entitled to breed every mating season, there’s no denying that the alpha female is in charge of giving birth to new pups.
She is also responsible for feeding the pups and ensuring they grow and become useful to the pack. Fortunately for luna, she gets help from other female wolves in taking care of the young.
Being the alpha wolf that she is, the luna also joins the males in hunting for food. This is especially true once the pups have grown into young adults. Often, it is also the luna wolf who teaches the pups how to hunt.
She is also responsible for making sure that the females in the pack respect her authority. This is done through acts of dominance, such as standing tall or standing over.
Does a Female Wolf Protect the Male?
Female wolves do not generally protect the male. Male wolves are larger for a reason. That’s because it’s their role to serve as the protectors and hunters of the pack.
Nevertheless, female wolves are capable of showing aggression against enemies. This is especially true if it means protecting the pups.
Is a She-Wolf a Real Animal?
A she-wolf is a real animal. As previously established, it is what female wolves are called, and that only proves that a she-wolf is a real animal.
In today’s slang, a woman who is called a she-wolf is someone who is fiercely independent and voraciously goal-oriented. In some instances, it borders on being predatory and is often seen negatively. Nevertheless, it cannot be denied that this is a nod to the traits possessed by she-wolves.
She-Wolf in Roman Mythology
The she-wolf is highly revered in Roman mythology – and the establishment of the Roman Empire as a whole.
As the legend goes, it was a she-wolf who fed and took care of the abandoned twins Romulus and Remus until they were discovered by a shepherd. One of the twins, Romulus, would eventually grow up and become the first king of Rome.
The she-wolf was so important during the time, and to the point that the image of twin boys suckling on the teats of a female wolf has become the symbol of Rome. This image can be seen in various sculptures, paintings, ancient Roman coins, and old banknotes.
What’s the Difference Between a She-Wolf and a Luna Wolf?
The term “she-wolf” is the general name used to refer to a female wolf, while “luna wolf” refers to the alpha wolf among the females. Simply stated, all-female wolves are she-wolves, but only their alpha or leader is called the luna wolf.
To explain further, you must understand that female wolf are ranked, whether it’s the alpha, the beta, the omega, or any other rank in their hierarchy. Holding the highest rank among the females is the luna wolf. Nevertheless, all of these females are she-wolves regardless of their ranks.
What Is a Sigma Wolf?
A sigma wolf, otherwise known as a lone wolf, is one who prefers to live alone, independent from a pack. The term is slang for a person who is successful and fiercely self-reliant. The sigma wolf does not need others to achieve his goals and does not care for his rank within the social hierarchy.
What Is Ultima Wolf?
The ultima wolf is a fictional being who is believed to turn humans into werewolves. This creature is often depicted to have a human-like form with wolf ears and a tail. They are likewise characterized to have red eyes when angered and will bite their enemy to turn them into werewolves.
Do Wolves Mate for Life?
Wolves are among the few mammals that mate for life. Once a wolf has chosen its mate, she sticks with him until one of them dies. This is especially observed in the alpha couple who are always seen together. However, it has been observed that some wolves have no problem with looking for another mate in case their former partner dies.
What Is an Omega Female?
The omega female wolf holds the lowest rank in the pack hierarchy. Having the lowest rank, the omega female is the last to feed and is expected to show respect to the wolves who have higher ranks.
You can easily identify the omega female in the pack because she tends to stay on the far sides of the territory. She’s also seen to keep her head low and tuck her tail in whenever a higher-ranking wolf is nearby.
Wolves understand that females play an important role in their survival, which is why she-wolves have multiple roles within the pack. While she’s mainly responsible for nursing and caring for the pups, she’s not one to back down from a fight if it means protecting her young. Such is the complexity of the female wolf.
List of Sources
Morris, J. S., Brandt, E. K. (2014). Specialization for aggression in sexually dimorphic skeletal morphology in grey wolves (Canis lupus). Journal of anatomy.
Smith, J. (2002). Canis lupus. Animal Diversity Web.
Wolf identification. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Cafazzo, S., Lazzaroni, M., Marshall-Pescini, S. (2016). Dominance relationships in a family pack of captive arctic wolves (Canis lupus arctos): the influence of competition for food, age and sex. PeerJ Life & Environment.
Mazzoni, C. (2010). She-wolf: The Story of a Roman Icon. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.