How Do Wolves Communicate?

Wolves use body language, noises, and scents to communicate. Because wolves live in packs and depend on one another to survive, wolf language is extremely crucial. For instance, effective communication within the pack is essential to a successful hunt, and language helps to maintain pack organization by ensuring that everyone knows their place. But how do wolves exchange messages? What methods do wolves use to communicate?

1. Sound

The howl that chills us to the bone is the sound that most people associate with wolves. The sound of one wolf howling frequently becomes a pack ritual before a hunt or during a period of grief. Howling in a group usually results in a great degree of enthusiasm, which frequently sparks conflicts and disputes. Cubs even participate in the pack chorus, making cute “ah-woo” noises.

Wolves halt to listen for a response after their howl, which is meant to be heard across great distances. A lone wolf will howl in hopes of finding companionship or locating a lost pack. According to experts, wailing also delineates area. Long-distance howls are believed to mark the establishment of a new wolf pack patch, as pack movements are contingent upon the food source and season.

Although it’s a widely held belief, howling wolves at night is really a coincidence! Because wolves are generally active at night, when they howl, they throw back their heads so that their snouts point skyward, giving the impression that they are howling at the moon. On clear nights, when sounds travel farther and people are more likely to hear them, the moon is also more apparent.

However, wolves use other sounds besides howls to communicate. To pack members, they also emit the following noises:

Barks: Wolves seldom bark, but when they do, it’s usually to warn others of impending danger.

Whimpers: Whimpers and pleasant whines might signal stress or worry, but they can also be signs of relaxation and attention-seeking.

Growls: A growl conveys danger. Gentle as a warning to back off, all the way up to full-on snarling and growling just before a physical altercation.

Yips: Jovial yips and squeaks denote enjoyment. Yaps and yips happen during play activities like wrestling or chasing.

On a pack hunt, sound is very crucial. Wolves spread out and employ a mix of long, short, high, and low howls to indicate their position in order to assure a successful hunt. Strong adult wolves bring down their prey after the fastest wolves chase and torment it until it falters.

2. Body Language

Though quiet, wolf body language conveys a lot of information. Wolves communicate by their postures, gestures, and expressions on their faces.


Elite wolves hold their heads and shoulders high, looking proud and erect. In order to show the more dominant wolves how submissive they are, lower-ranking wolves may often kneel, cringe, or roll over to reveal their tender underbelly. Lower-ranking wolves that are crouching may also lick the dominant wolf’s muzzle in a puppy-like manner.

In addition to using its head to convey dominance, wolves also use their tail position as a key communication tool. Lower-ranking wolves lower their tails, whereas alpha wolves hoist their tail high in the air like a flag to signify their superiority to the group. The wolf with the lowest rank conceals its tail beneath its body and between its legs. Our beloved dogs can follow suit after misbehaving.


A person who is still and maintains a fixed gaze can warn others of impending danger or express disapproval of certain actions. A wolf in stock still signifies its prey that has spots.

However, dominance isn’t the only thing that wolves communicate about; they also like their pack habitat. For instance, we frequently witness our pet dogs bowing. Like their wolf forebears, it’s an invitation to play.

A wolf will spread its front paws, droop its head, and stick up its back when it wants to play. Wag their tails, play chase games, and have zoomies—all signs of being playful wolves. Another method used by wolves to communicate is jaw-sparing. This is a lighthearted fight, usually between kids who are standing on their hind legs, to show off playful dominance in a laid-back group environment.

Facial Expressions

Wolf facial expressions include snarling, curled lips, flat ears, and half-closed, sleepy eyes.

A wolf may flash its teeth in warning, then let out a full-fledged, scary snarl with its lips pulled back. A wolf that is howling will also have its ears flattened on the side. In the pack, showing one’s teeth is a sign of dominance and a way to communicate.

A dominant wolf may also indicate to a subordinate wolf that their actions are unacceptable by maintaining a focused gaze. When a dominant wolf fixes his or her gaze on a subordinate, the latter will look away. There will be growling if they don’t, or if they don’t do so fast enough.

The facial expressions of a lower-ranking wolf are not as aggressive. It will squat, close half of its eyes, and flatten its ears to show submissiveness when confronted by a dominant wolf.

3. Scent

Like many other animals, wolves use scent to communicate. Compared to humans, wolves have a sense of smell 100,000 times more keen than ours. Scents can reach wolves more than a mile away.

This is how scent is used by wolves to communicate:

Urine and Scats

Urine stains and scats, or dog dung, are powerful signals to other wolf packs. To establish their claim to a territory and notify other packs of their presence, wolves mark the boundaries of their territory with pee scent markings and scats.

Experts believe that each wolf has a unique fragrance from its pee and scat, allowing pack members to recognize who left the markings.


Every wolf has its own scent! Even after a protracted absence, pack members can detect their pheromones immediately since their scent glands have evolved their own unique fragrance. Scent is released by wolves through the glands in their foot and tail. As a result, a pack can follow individuals without really seeing them.

Does your dog poop in foul-smelling materials? So do wolves! To restore the aroma of decaying carcasses or excrement to the pack, wolves roll over these objects. It’s a means of communication—check out what I discovered! Consider your dog’s wolf pack heritage the next time they roll in anything inappropriate.