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Submitted on
July 12, 2010
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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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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.
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.
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
Kique7 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The info is real interesting, though the art doesnīt 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.
Donīt 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 (:
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
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.
Kique7 Featured By Owner Apr 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Ooh I understand that.
bloodfeather9875 Featured By Owner Apr 4, 2013  Student Artist
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.
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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