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Eurasian wolf tutorial by Dark-Hyena Eurasian wolf tutorial by Dark-Hyena
Inspired by [link]

As almost all wolf tutorials here seem devoted exclusively to North American timber or arctic wolves, I thought I'd add my two cents. Please note though that I know that there is a great deal of variation in both North American and European wolves. These figures are simply based on which traits are consistently different in European and American wolves in general.

At the same time, I'd like to dispell some myths about European wolves:

1: They are smaller and weaker than North American wolves. While it is true for certain populations of European wolves (the small French and Italian specimens for example), it cannot be said for the European population as a whole. According to Barry Lopez in his Of Wolves and Men, the average American wolf is 80 lbs, while the average European wolf is 85 lbs. Secondly, according to Mammals of the Soviet Union, Russian wolves do occasionally reach 176 lbs (one lb more than the largest recorded American wolf). According to Wolves in Russia, the largest wolf shot in the former Soviet Union weighed 86 kg (190 lbs), 15 lbs heavier than the largest recorded American wolf. As for them being weak, Theodore Roosevelt, who hunted both European and American wolves, commented that overall the European wolves were stronger and more ferocious.

2. European wolves are heavily hybridized with dogs: WRONG! According to Carles Vila in his Hybridization between wolves and dogs, hybridization has not occurred in any significant scale in European wolf populations. In fact, it is likely that North American wolves have more dog genes than their European counterparts, considering that there are more black wolves in America than in Europe (black wolves are descended from wolf-dog hybrids). Another thing to take into account is the fact that European wolves actually have larger brains than American wolves (as shown by Hemmer (1990)). Dogs and hybrids invariably have smaller brains than pure wolves, so it makes no sense to claim that the largest brained specimens are in fact genetically polluted.

3. European wolves are on the verge of extinction!: Not true at all. While it is true that wolves are scarce in central Europe, they are flanked by Spain and Eastern Europe. Spain alone has something like 2000 wolves, while Eastern Europe (especially Russia) has the largest wolf population in the world, which continues to migrate into Central and Northern Europe. Even if these "migrants" were killed, they'd be quickly replaced by new Russian or Spanish wolves.
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:iconpatchi1995:
Patchi1995 Featured By Owner May 20, 2015
Whatever happened with the Asian Indian wolves, were they are more like the American wolves, but they looked like their European counterpart?
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:iconashwolf-forever:
AshWolf-Forever Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2015  Professional General Artist
This is very nice and useful. Thanks for sharing!
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:iconwdghk:
WDGHK Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2014
True wolves in North America are about the same size as wolves in Eastern Europe,however they are smaller in the Iberian peninsula and Italy, witch are in fact different subspecies,i have seen both the Iberian wolves and the Eurasian ones,and the former is a bit less than 2/3 the size of the later who was at eye level with me when standing up on the bars.Also wolves are often portrayed as quite small in a lot of animated shows and movies,when most the ones I saw when far bigger than most German shepherds I saw.

To be fair the wolves range in Europe is nothing compared to what it once was.Their historic range was literally every square inch of Europe including Ireland and Great Britain,with the sole exception of Iceland and the islands in the Mediterranean sea(for obvious reasons).Today while they are numerous in eastern Europe,the Balkan Peninsula,the Baltic contries,the Iberian peninsula,Poland, and of course European Russia,they have been largely extirpated from Fennoscandinavia witch has a lot of excellent wolf habitat in the form of the vast taigas filled with moose and reindeer to hunt,but the only wolves there have a patchy range in southern Finland and about 200 or so individuals on the Norway/Sweden border,there should be more reintroduction programs for them there,but that is hard since the people in northern Europe are notorious wolf haters and wont agree on that.

Also they are largely non existent in central Europe and France,the only ones being present in the Alpes and Apennines range and the Pyrenees witch are the only ragged terrain that isn't heavily inhabited,and have been extinct in the British isles for centuries. Of course all this is the result of merciless hunting and persecution from the humans,i know that wolves were feared because they were a  threat to their livestock,but half of that fear was the fact that they believed  that wolves were creatures of pure evil that should be destroyed by all means witch was just stupid beyond reason.
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:iconanna-lynx:
Anna-Lynx Featured By Owner May 4, 2013
To be perfectly honest, Eurasian wolves look less like German Shepherds and more like Saarloos wolfhounds to me. Of course, this is probably because Saarloos wolfhounds actually are part wolf. Huskies don't really look much like wolves to me, though.

A little off topic, but still about wild animals with domestic lookalikes: Scottish Wildcats are sometimes mistaken for tabby cats at a distance. Go figure.
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:iconshortwinger:
Shortwinger Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Saarloos no longer have wolf in them actually, they did at one point though. Just like German Shepherds had the wolf bred back into them but are now just dogs. If they still had as much wolf in them as they used to they would not have the markings they do. They still have some wolfish features but aren't Wolf-Dogs~

And those do look at tad like tabbies but I'm no cat expert xD
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:iconkique7:
Kique7 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The info is real interesting, though the art doesn´t really justify how the Eurasian looks, ive met Eurasian wolves in person and they have a quite bushy tail, it all depends on the season.
Don´t think they look like GSDs at all, pretty fed up with the saying that german shepherd looks like wolves, when there are such obvious differences.
Huskys dont really look like wolves at all either.
Nicely drawn though, I like the style (:
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:iconshortwinger:
Shortwinger Featured By Owner May 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
In the winter wolves have bushy tails, in the summer they have little stick tails cx The Wolf-Dogs I work with almost all have stick tails now xD
I'm pretty fed up with that kind of stuff too :P When I'm out with the Ambassador Wolf-Dogs, if they don't ask if its a wolf, they ask if its a husky or a shepherd. They look nothing a like. OTL
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013
I appreciate your honesty.

I don't think wolves look much like huskies or GSDs either, though I'm aware there are many out there who do think so, at least where huskies are concerned. I included the GSD reference because I've noticed several European artists drawing wolves simply as copies of the North American wolves you see on calenders. My point is that the differences in fur texture/build between huskies and GSDs are roughly analogous to those between American/European wolves. That's how I see it anyway.

The reason both wolves look slightly off is because my intention was to exaggerate (caricature...?) the differences between them rather than give a totally naturalistic depiction. While European wolves may have very bushy tails, they're almost invariably less bushy than those of their New World counterparts.
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:iconkique7:
Kique7 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ooh I understand that.
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:iconbloodfeather9875:
bloodfeather9875 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013  Student Artist
cool
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:iconellipticalpuppy:
EllipticalPuppy Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
How interesting! I myself love Eurasian wolves in particular (I have characters of them~), and I've been trying to compare anatomy with other types of wolves, but it's pretty hard to find.
I'll admit, when I think of a wolf, I usually think of a large, stocky grey or black or tan one, simply because I'm American and that's what I normally see or hear concerns for. But I adore all types of wolves, and Eurasians are my favorite. :)

Many thanks for accentuating the differences, I really like art that stresses appropriate anatomy instead of making the creatures look generic.
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:iconwhatpipeswhy:
whatpipeswhy Featured By Owner Feb 14, 2012
Thank you so much! It's nearly impossible for me to find good photo references of european wolves online. Even when I look for books of wolf pictures, everything shown is a "majestic" american wolf, and all the information focuses on the lives of big nomadic american wolves.
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Feb 15, 2012
No problem! Thank you for taking an interest!
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:icon3lfin:
3lfin Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011
Nice fox you drew there.
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2011
Heh...
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:iconxbloodrainx:
xBloodRainx Featured By Owner May 17, 2011
wonderful pic love the referances, i'm very impressed that you not just drawling but learning and shareing as well, keep up the good work! #^6^#
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:icongregthebaker50:
Gregthebaker50 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
An excellent piece! :)
(I'm looking up Eurasian Predators for GCSE Art thing I'm doing. )
This is mondo useful to me, dark Hyena.

It's also such a shame all the focus is on American Wolves, I love Eurasians too, if not more. (Also, in one book, apparently one shot Russian wolf weighed over a whopping 200 lbs! I'll see if I can find it. )

It's also good to see a decent bit of Wolf Art NOT flagged by either Wolfaboos OR Wolf-haters ; two breeds all too common on DA.
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
Thanks a lot!

I think the book you're referring to is Wolves in Russia by Will Graves.

Good luck with your GCSEs! Hope you do better in the art exam than I did...
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:icongregthebaker50:
Gregthebaker50 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
Thanks! :D
Haha, surely with art like that ^ you can't have done THAT bad. XD What was your project?

And yeah, almost defiantly was.

Also, out of interest, have you ever seen wild wolves? Just wondering seeing how you seem so excellent at drawing them. (I always find the real McCoy the best art inspiration.)
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
Had to do something "natural", and sketched the dried up husk of a wasp. Unfortunately, it seemed the teachers meant fruit and veg.

I've never seen wolves in the wild before, unfortunately :(
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:icongregthebaker50:
Gregthebaker50 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2010
Weren't you allowed to choose? We have 2 projects of our own over the course of 2 years, with one, shorter one the teacher gives in-between. (I'm direly hoping for something natural!)

And, same. I consider Wolves and perhaps Cougars too( I've seen a dead one and heard / seen one's eye-shine in the Brazilian Pantanal.) to be my "Final Frontier" when it comes to wildlife watching.
That and I'm training to be a Zoologist / animal biologist in later life. (Currently in final year of secondary school.)

Also, I don't suppose you'd consider an African Wild Dog piece, would you? :) I haven't seen a canine artist as good as you in a looong time.
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2010
I honestly can't remember what went on back then. It was almost a decade ago, and the only thing I recall with any clarity is that I disliked the art class I was taking anyway.

lol, thanks, perhaps I should watch an African wild dog documentary for inspiration :)
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:icongregthebaker50:
Gregthebaker50 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2010
Ah, unlucky.
May I ask what profession your into now? (Taking you've left education? )And sorry for being nosy, I'm just interested, if you don't want to say it's fine. :)

And Indeed!
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2010
Teaching English as a foreign language. Drawing is just a hobby
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(1 Reply)
:iconbruiser128:
bruiser128 Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
Wait a minute what about the Coywolf.
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2010
What about it?
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:iconbruiser128:
bruiser128 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2010  Student Traditional Artist
I've always wondered what traits they get from both species.
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:iconstudio-riversaw:
Studio-Riversaw Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010
What a wonderful drawing! Been searching for a good set of references of non-American wolf varieties! I love wolves (although am not a "wolfaboo"), but want to add more of a variety to my work!

Thank you! (:
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:icontiggermusica:
TiggerMusica Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010
srry computer messed up and i posted twice

but thats a common mistake ppl make with golden eagles who hunt the Canis lupus arabs
but not canis lupis lupis
the biggest wolf in the world was lupis lupis not the arabs ppl mistake all asian/european wolves for
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:icontiggermusica:
TiggerMusica Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010
there are actually two types of the gray wolf in Europe/Asia
Canis lupus arabs- that are coyote sized/ weak carnassials teeth/ actually have brains 5-10% smaller than canis lupis/ short hair
and what we have in NA
canis lupis lupis- strong carnassials/ long fur/ and much bigger build/ bigger brain
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:icondiardiwolf123:
DiardiWolf123 Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2010
I know this post is quite old but...
Actually, there are far more types of the Gray wolf in Europe/Asia than just two.
you just mentioned canis lupus arabs - the Arabian wolf and canis lupus lupus- the common/Eurasian wolf.
There are many subspecies, but canis lupus lupus is still the most widespread throughout Eurasia. It ranges througout Western Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, China, Mongolia, and the Himalayan mountains.

Here are the subspecies in Europe, Asia and the few from Africa. (although their ranges very often overlap each other.)

European wolves:
canus lupus lupus (common wolf)- is found throughout pretty much entire Asia and Europe.
canis lupus italicus (Italian wolf) - is found in Italy, France, Austria, Switserland and Northern Spain.
canis lupus signatus (Iberian wolf) - lives in Spain and Portugal
canis lupus albus (tundra wolf) - Is found in Scandinavia and northern Russia.
canis lupus minor (Austro-Hungarian wolf) found in Eastern and parts of central Europe.

African wolves:
canis lupus arabs (arabian wolf) - is both found in Egypt and the Arabian peninsula
canis lupus lupaster (Egyptian wolf, but It's now assumed it's a wolf/golden jackal hybrid.)

Asian wolves:
canis lupus chanco (Mongolian wolf)
canis lupus cubanesis (caspian sea wolf)
canis lupus communis (Russian wolf)
canis lupus desertorum (desert wolf)
canis lupus himalayensis (Himalayan wolf)
canis lupus laninger (Tibetan wolf)
canis lupus pallipes (Indian wolf)
canis lupus hodophilax (Honshu wolf) - extinct Japanese wolf
canis lupus hattai (Hokkaido wolf)- also extinct Japanese wolf
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:icontiggermusica:
TiggerMusica Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2011
Yes i know this, i even have a list of most of these wolves pics along with their diffrent traits.
But from what ive studied the only ones considered a sub-species is those two.
I may be wrong but at that time those were the only two sub-species i was pulling up.
All the rest were labeled as diffrent breeds.
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:icontiggermusica:
TiggerMusica Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2010
there are actually two types of the gray wolf in Europe/Asia
Canis lupus arabs- that are coyote sized/ weak carnassials teeth/ actually have brains 5-10% smaller than canis lupis/ short hair
and what we have in NA
canis lupis lupis- strong carnassials/ long fur/ and much bigger build/ bigger brain
Reply
:iconjajazz:
Jajazz Featured By Owner Aug 7, 2010
Brilliant artwork, and well done for clearing up some myths about Eurasian wolves. I didn't know half of the information in the description, so thanks for informing me and likely lots of other people. :)
Actually, I was quite unaware of all the differences between North American wolves and Eurasian wolves.
I love the smaller cartoony wolves at the bottom.
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010
When i saw picture for the first time i thought that reddish wolf is an ethiopian wolf ...
OMG, i can't believe that people can be that stupid...
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010
Indeed. Do you know the Beast of Gevaudan? Some wolfaboos claim it cannot have been a wolf, because of its reddish fur, yet it is the colour common in most European wolves.
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:iconcharanty:
Charanty Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2010
Yes, i do.
I think it could be a wolf with some rare mutations - it had very long front legs, reddish-grey fur with few dark stripes, long tail, a unproportionally big, long skull and a transparent third eyelid.
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:icontarbano:
tarbano Featured By Owner Jul 17, 2010
defiantly making a note of this in my video. Nice work mate!
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:iconshadowcatskey:
ShadowCatsKey Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I actually thank you greatly for putting this up. I have a Shape-Shifter story where there are three species of shapeshifters. One of them is wolf. But they have two branches- American and Eurasian. I didn't think anyone would see the difference in the anatomy if I decided to draw them both... may I post links to this once I get my wolf shifters up? This is a wonderful picture showing the differences!
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2010
Of course you may! More people need to be aware of these differences
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:iconshadowcatskey:
ShadowCatsKey Featured By Owner Jul 14, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you! ^^
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:iconwolfdemonlover1:
wolfdemonlover1 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2010   Traditional Artist
Agian Very wonderful, and I love the little cartoons at the bottom next to the summaries:D
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:icondiardiwolf123:
DiardiWolf123 Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2010
I'll choose European wolves over American ones any day!:D I just find them much more interesting, and they're still a little bit less overrated than their American cousins.
I wonder why people think wolves are on the verge of extinction in Europe. They're not at all. In France their numbers exploded since last year (there are about 185-200 wolves now I believe), they're even back in Germany (around 20) and Switserland (around 10 based on loose sightings, but sightings increase), and they're expected to reach Belgium and the Netherlands too in a few years. In most Eastern European countries they're still conisdered to be very common animals.
Their numbers in central Europe may be scarce, but their populations continue to grow.
Maybe you could also add in the information that European wolves have smaller territories than American ones. This is probably because Europe is more densely populated than America. They also form smaller packs and are more adaptable.
What matters appearance: I thought European wolves had a black stripe/marking running over their backs too, not only on their forelegs.

Lol, the summary!:XD:
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
Absoloutely! It annoys me when Wolfaboos see Mediaeval wolf art, and claim that the wolves ARE RED/BROWN AND THIN AND LOOK LIKE DOGS!1!1! when in fact, they are accurate drawings of European wolves.

As for Euro wolves having smaller packs, that is in fact true. I've only added myths, information that needs clarifying.

Thanks for the comment, I really appreciate "coinneseurs" ;)
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:icondiardiwolf123:
DiardiWolf123 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
People actually describe them that way?
Well I'd still prefer red/brown and thin dogs over poofy, small eared grey ones! I find Medieval paintings beautiful, especially hunting scenes.

I find the information you added very interesting and helpful for those who want to draw them. It sums up the major differences between them that most people overlook.(or are too lazy to research)

You're welcome!:D I'm from Europe myself, so I should at least know something about what wolves here look like and their behavior. I try to stay updated on their status throughout Europe as much as I can.
You wrote 'coinneseur' wrong, it's written 'connaisseur'!;)
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
Merde, il fait trop longue-temps que j'ecris pas en Francaise! Il faut que je me mette en pratique.
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:icondiardiwolf123:
DiardiWolf123 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
C'était depuis longtempts que j'ai ecrit quelque chose en français aussi! C'est pourqoi je préfère parler l'Englais, c'est plus facile!:) Mon français n'est pas très bien, mais tu as écrit beaucoup des fautes!:o
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
Comme deja dit, il faut que je pratique :(
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:icondiardiwolf123:
DiardiWolf123 Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
Oui, mais pour quelqu'un qui ne practique pas beaucoup, ton français est encore très bien!:D
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:icondark-hyena:
Dark-Hyena Featured By Owner Jul 24, 2010
Phew, ca m'encourage beaucoup. Il y'a encore d'espoir pour moi! :)
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