Adaptation – a change in an animal’s behavior or body that allows it to live better in its surroundings. Some adaptations in wolves include large feet with toes that spread which enable the animals to walk on snow and ice. The large, compact feet also enable the wolf to travel long distances.

Alphas – The term sometimes used to describe the dominant wolves in the social order of the wolf pack. Because a free-ranging wolf pack is a family comprising the parents and their offspring, the term “alphas” has been superseded by “breeding pair” or “breeders” or simply “parents.” (See Dominance Hierarchy) On the other hand, captive wolves that live together are often unrelated. Therefore, competition for rank in the group may take place with a resulting social hierarchy.

Anthropomorphism – The act of giving human characteristics, behaviors, feelings and/or motivations to animals or objects. Animals are frequently anthropomorphized in literature and in movies.

Artificial Insemination – a breeding where the sperm is collected from the male and manually inserted in a female.

Behavior – What an animal does; its reactions or actions under specific conditions.

Beta – The term sometimes used to describe the second rank in the social order of a wolf pack. In what researchers now consider an oversimplified model of a wolf pack, social hierarchies were thought to operate for males and females. This implied that a pack may have both a beta male and a beta female. According to this model, a wolf at this rank would usually dominate all of the other wolves in its gender except the dominant wolf. (See Alphas and Dominance Hierarchy)
North American elk

Big Game (Large Game) – Term used to designate larger species that are hunted. Examples are bears, moose, deer, elk, caribou and bighorn sheep. In many states, selected species are legally designated as big game, small game (rabbits, squirrels, game birds) and non-game (songbirds, birds of prey).

Biological Diversity or Biodiversity – The variety, complexity and relative abundance of species (plant and animal) present and interacting in an ecosystem.

Biologist – A person who studies living organisms, life processes and/or the animal and plant life of a particular place. Biologists also study the relationship of living things to one another.

Bounty – A payment or other reward for removing or killing certain species of animals designated as harmful. Federal and state governments have used bounties as part of their predator control programs to encourage people to kill wolves.

Breeding Pair – The term used to refer to the male and the female in the pack who mate and produce offspring.

Breed Standard – is the set of breed descriptions originally laid down by the various parent breed clubs and accepted officially by international bodies.

Breeding terms – generally referred to the terms which are placed in an agreement when a dog/bitch is sold for breeding purposes.

Breech birth – the positioning of the puppy when the feet come first down the birth canal, instead of head first. This position can occasionally present a problem with a puppy getting stuck.

Brood bitch – a female dog used for breeding purposes.

Buffer Zone – An area between territories occupied by established wolf packs. Prey species often flourish in buffer zones. Wolves that have dispersed and that are alone often find relative safety and food in buffer zones with less risk of being attacked and killed by members of established packs. However, buffer zones are not necessarily neutral areas and therefore safe havens. These zones may be contested by resident packs.

Cache – a hiding place used for storing food if there is an abundance of meat from a kill; v. to store or hide.

Canid – A member of the taxonomic family Canidae, which in North America includes wolves, coyotes, foxes and domestic dogs.

Canine Brucellois – a highly infectious venereal disease in dogs, which causes abortion, re-absorption, stillbirths and sterility.

Canine tooth
Canines – The sharp, pointed teeth (fangs) that carnivores use to pierce and tear the flesh of their prey.

Canis lupus – The scientific name for the gray wolf.

Canis rufus – The scientific name for the red wolf. Two recognized species of wolves live in North America – Canis lupus and Canis rufus. Some scientists have proposed that the eastern wolf, Canis lupus lycaon is a distinct species, Canis lycaon.

Captive Breeding – Breeding animals in such places as zoos. Captive breeding is a tool to save critically endangered species such as the Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus balleyi) and the red wolf (Canis rufus). These captive populations may be used for reintroduction in designated areas. The wolves that were reintroduced in Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho were not bred in captivity. They were captured in Canada and transported to the northern Rocky Mountains and released. The red wolves reintroduced in northeastern North Carolina were, on the other hand, bred in captivity because red wolves were officially declared functionally extinct in the wild.

Carnivore – An animal that eats meat.

Chromosomes – the rod like structures of DNA which come in 39 pairs in dogs on which the genes are located and determine the genetic features of the dog.

Cleft Palate – a congenital abnormality where there is a hole in the palate. Culling of all affected puppies is necessary as they generally cannot nurse correctly.

Congenital – a condition which exists from birth and is generally inherited.

C section (caesarian) – surgical removal of the puppies.

Culling – generally refers to the putting to sleep of puppies who may be malformed or unhealthy.

Color Phase – The color of an animal’s pelage (fur), which is determined by genetics and may vary within a population. White, gray and black color phases may be seen within the same gray wolf population. In the Western Great Lakes region, about 98 percent of the gray wolf population exhibits the gray phase, with the occasional occurrence of white or black phases. The predominant color phase within a population often corresponds to the overall color of its environment. For example, the white color phase is predominant in arctic regions. The word “phase” does not imply that a wolf changes color.

Conservation – Protection of natural resources from loss, waste or harm; the wise and intelligent use of natural resources so they will be available for future generations.

Dam – mother of puppies.

Dog breeding – the practice of mating selected specimens with the intent to maintain or produce specific qualities and characteristics. Breeding relies on the science of genetics, so the breeder with a knowledge of canine genetics, health, and the intended use for the dogs attempts to breed suitable dogs.

Den– A shelter, often a small cave or hole dug out of the ground, to protect the breeding female and her young pups from weather and other animals.

Depredation – Refers to damage done by wildlife to people’s crops and domestic animals. This term is primarily used when referring to situations involving wolves or other carnivores killing or maiming domestic animals, such as livestock.

Dispersal – The act of an organism leaving its birthplace and moving to where it will live as an adult. Dispersal in wolves usually involves a young, sexually maturing wolf leaving the pack, perhaps due to rivalry with other members of the pack, intense bonds formed with an individual wolf from outside of the pack or lack of sufficient resources within the pack’s territory to support the number of wolves present.

Disperser – A wolf that leaves the pack and strikes out on its own. Some of these “lone wolves” have no social territory, and they live on the fringes of established packs or in the areas where several territories come together. Their single status may make them vulnerable to malnutrition and to attacks by other wolves. Dispersers will sometimes hunt in unoccupied areas between pack territories called buffer zones. Some wolves are seeking a partner and may travel hundreds of miles from where they were born. Males and females may meet and form new packs if they can find unoccupied territory with sufficient prey.

Domesticated – Referring to species which have descended from wild ancestors but have been tamed, kept in captivity and bred over many generations for human purposes. They are usually dependent upon humans for their survival.

Dominance Hierarchy – A linear “chain of command” concept describing rank within a wolf pack established through competition and conflict. According to this model, the strongest male and female are the “alphas,” and the second in rank are the “betas.” The “omega” wolf is the lowest ranking wolf, often having to beg food and always losing fights. While this status hierarchy may exist in captive packs comprised of unrelated individuals, natural wolf packs usually consist of parents and their offspring of various years. In a free-ranging wolf family, each wolf seems to know its standing and communicates it to the others. The parents are in charge, with the older siblings next in order of dominance followed by the pups of the current year.

Dominant – Having power, control and privilege over others within a social hierarchy. – an inherited trait that will express itself in an offspring.

Dystocia – refers to difficult or problem whelpings.

Eclampsia – a condition that may occur in pregnant or lactating females due to a metabolic upset where the body’s calcium becomes depleted. Signs may include nervousness, panting, vomiting, problems navigating, temperature rise and convulsions. Extremely serious requiring immediate veterinary assistance to prevent death.

Fading PuppEcologist – A scientist who studies the interrelationship of living things to one another and to their environment.

Ecology – The science of relationships between plants, animals and the environment.

Ecosystem – A more or less discrete system or community formed by the interaction of living organisms with each other and with the physical factors found in their environment.

Encroachment – The physical occupation of space or habitat which was previously occupied by another species, resulting in displacement of this species or destruction of the species, if no alternative space or habitat is available.

Exterminate – To get rid of by destroying or killing.

Extinct – No longer in existence. Once a species is extinct, all individuals within this species have forever vanished from the planet.y Syndrome – a condition where a previously healthy puppy suddenly stops nursing, becomes limp and dies fairly quickly. Generally thought to be caused by the herpesvirus.

False Pregnancy – a condition where the bitch may show many of the signs of pregnancy, including milk production but actually produce puppies.
Feast-or-Famine Diet – The behavior of eating a great deal of food in a short time and then not eating for an extended period. A single wolf has been known to eat up to 22 pounds of meat at one time. The wolf then rests while this food digests. It may be several days or several weeks before the wolf gets another significant amount of food.

Feral – Domesticated animals that have gone wild. Examples are wild burros, goats, pigs, cats and dogs. There is an important distinction between a feral dog and a wild dog. Sometimes livestock depredations are blamed on wolves when, in fact, the killing was done by a feral dog or a hybrid.

Food-Begging – A behavior which pups and sometimes sub-adults use to get food from dominant members. The pup or subordinate lowers its body posture and licks around the muzzle of the wolf with the food. It may whine. Pups may induce adults to regurgitate food by engaging in food-begging. Adults with food may simply give some or all of the food. The breeding female sometimes uses food-begging to induce the breeding male to deliver food to her when she is confined to the den with young pups.

Free Whelp – when a mother is able to give birth to the puppies naturally, without surgical assistance.

Genes – the sequence of material located along the chromosomes which are the carriers of genetic information.

Genus – Part of the classification system used to identify plants and animals. Wolves are of the genus Canis along with coyotes and domestic dogs.

Gestation Period – Pregnancy – The period between fertilization and birth. For a wolf this period is 62 – 63 days.

Genetic – traits that are inherited by a combination of genes from the dog’s parents.

Genotype – the makeup of a dog’s genes, the blueprint of every trait that it has inherited and may pass on to subsequent generations. Gestation – the period of time from conception to birth, on average lasts 62 days.

Guard Hairs – The long outer hairs of an animal’s coat that keep the downy underfur from getting dirty or wet. The underfur keeps the animal warm by preventing heat loss from the body.

Habitat – The natural environment of a species (plant or animal) that provides the food, water, shelter or cover and space required for it to survive. Forests, deserts and lakes are but a few examples of habitats.

Heat – a female dog’s estrus cycle usually lasting around 21 days during which time she may be bred. Usually re-occurs approximately every 6 months.

Herpes virus – a disease which may affect puppies, often picked up from an infected dam during birth. Signs are puppies that suddenly become limp, ceasing to nurse, crying continuous and die within 24 hours. Quite often the whole litter will be infected, so veterinary assistance should be immediate to save the puppies.

Heterozygous – means two different genes in a pair and is a hybrid and will not breed pure for a characteristic. In a pair of heterozygous genes one will be dominant and the other recessive.

Homozygous – means an identical pair of genes. If a dog has a set of homozygous genes then it will breed pure for a certain characteristic. A pair of homozygous genes may be either dominant or recessive.

Horns of the uterus – a dog’s uterus is divided into a Y shape of two separate sections in which the puppies can form. Puppies can occasionally “traffic jam” if they meet coming into the vagina at the same time.

Hybrid – The offspring resulting from reproduction between two closely related species, Dogs, wolves and coyotes can interbreed and produce fertile offspring. The subject of wolf-dog hybrids is controversial. Many people believe that if they obtain such a hybrid, they will get an animal that looks like a wolf and acts like a dog. This is often not the case, however. Hybrids sometimes have a dog’s aggressive nature combined with a wolf’s shyness and fear of humans. This combination can produce an “aggressive predator,” a potentially dangerous animal.

Hydrocephalus – a congenital abnormality where there is water on the brain of the puppy. All affected puppies should be culled.

Inbreeding – the breeding of two closely related individuals within one generation of a pedigree, ie. brother to sister, father to daughter, etc.

Line-breeding – the breeding of two individuals which are closely related through a common ancestor.

Litter – All of the pups born during a single birth to an adult female wolf.

Livestock – Animals that are domesticated, such as cattle, sheep, horses and mules that are raised on a farm or ranch.

Longevity – Length of time an animal lives.

Mastitis – inflammation of the milk glands.

Mange – a skin condition caused by a parasitic mite. Mange is characterized by intense itching and hair loss. Excessive hair loss can result in hypothermia and death.

Metritis – an inflammation of the uterus, usually caused by a retained placenta or fetus, or introduction of bacteria in the genital tract during birth by unsanitary practices. Signs are lethargy, smelly vaginal discharge and abdominal pain. Requires immediate veterinary attention to save bitch and puppies.

Mate – to breed a dog and bitch.

Omega – The lowest ranking member in the social order of a wolf pack. Natural wolf packs may not have a single omega wolf. However, low-ranking members of a wolf pack such as young, sexually maturing males and females may become dispersers, especially if food is scarce.

Out-crossing – the breeding of two individuals with no common ancestors within a five generation pedigree

Pack – A family of wolves that lives and works together to hunt for food and take care of the pups. It usually consists of a male and female parent (the breeding male and the breeding female or breeding pair) and their offspring from one or more generations. The size of the pack may depend on prey density and size. For example, wolves that prey on moose or bison may form larger packs because these large animals may be easier to kill when two or more wolves participate. However, a large pack requires a lot of food; the more wolves, the more quickly a kill is consumed.

Pelage – The entire coat of hair or fur, including the soft, furry undercoat as well as the coarse guard hairs, on a mammal.

Pelt – The skin and fur of an animal. Note that the pelage is the coat of hair and fur. The pelt is the skin as well as the hair and fur.

Predator – An animal that captures and eats other animals.

Prey – An animal that is captured and eaten by another animal.

Pedigree – written family tree of a dog.

Phenotype – it is how the genes that a dog possess come together to present the outward appearance of the dog.

Pick of litter – generally the best puppy in the litter as determined by the breeder.

Placenta – tissue which is attached to the mother’s uterus during pregnancy allowing the puppy to receive blood and nutrients while developing. The placenta detaches from the uterus prior to birth.

Polygenetic – traits which are caused by the interaction of more than one gene. Re-absorption – a process where the pregnant bitch may absorb fetuses back into her body, possibly due to deformity of the fetus, disease or stress.

Rank – The relative social positions of animals in a pack. The more dominant animals are higher in rank. In a free-ranging wolf pack, the highest ranking members are usually the parents. The older siblings are higher in rank than the pups of the current year. In a captive group of wolves, rank may be determined through competition and sometimes conflict.

Recessive – an inherited trait that may remain hidden or suppressed.

Scat – Fecal matter or feces.

Scavenger – An animal that eats animals it did not kill directly but that have died from other causes such as disease, starvation or predation.

Scent-marking – The act of marking an area with body odor, scent from a gland, or urine or scat. This technique is used by wolves to communicate with other wolves and animals. For example, scent marks tell other wolves the locations of a pack’s territorial boundaries.

Season – a female dog’s estrus cycle usually lasting around 21 days during which time she may be bred. Usually re-occurs approximately every 6 months.

Social Animal – an animal that lives in a group with its own kind. Wolves are highly social animals because they live in a pack or family according to strict cooperative rules. The pack members are dependent on one another for survival, and they all participate in the care and nurturing of the young.

Species – A subgroup of genus and part of the classification system scientists use to identify plants and animals. Although there is some debate among scientists, two species of wolves are recognized in the U.S. – Canis lupus, the gray wolf, and Canis rufus, the red wolf. The proper name of a species is made up of two words: the genus name (Canis) and the specific name (lupus or rufus).

Standard – written blueprint or guidelines depicting the important points which will distinguish a certain breed.

Stress – A harmful pressure to an organism or a. A drought or flood or a severe winter would cause stress to a plant population and, therefore, to animals.

Structure – the construction of a dog. May vary from breed to breed.

Stud – male dog used for breeding purposes.

Stud Service – the use of a male for breeding purposes usually for renumeration.

Submission – The act of acknowledging another animal’s dominance or higher rank. Wolves do this in several ways including lying on their back and exposing their bellies, lowering their tails (or tucking the tail between the legs), flattening their ears against their heads and assuming a lower body position. Another behavior exhibited by submissive wolves is food begging.

Subordinate – Lower ranking in power, control and privilege.

Subspecies – Part of the classification system scientists use to identify plants and animals. It is the most specific group of animals. Scientists disagree on how many subspecies of wolves there are, but in North America, for example, 5 subspecies of Canis lupus, the gray is the generally accepted number. Two examples areCanis lupus arctos, the arctic wolf, and Canis lupus baleyi, the Mexican wolf.

Temperature – a dog’s regular temperature ranges between 100 degrees F and 102.5 degrees F. Up to 48 hours prior to whelping a pregnant bitch will usually have a drop in temperature of around a degree.

Testing (a) – various tests that may be carried out on a dog to check the health of dog with respect to genetic defects for which a breed is predisposed. Tests may range for auscultation of the heart to x-rays, ultrasound, blood tests, etc. depending upon the nature of the disease being tested for.

Testing (b) – a series of test that may be required prior to breeding to determine that neither the female nor the male has a venereal disease such as canine brucellois.

Tie – the process during breeding where the male and female lock together caused by the dog’s penis becoming filled with blood and the sphincter muscles of the bitch’s vagina contracting and holding it in place. May last minutes to hours.

Toxic Milk Syndrome – a condition when the mother’s milk has become toxic to the puppies due to an infection developed by the dam. Signs are the puppies become bloated, cry, have greenish diarrhea and a red, sore rectum. Puppies should be removed from the dam and hand fed. The dam will require veterinary assistance.

Tube feeding – the feeding of a puppy by placing a small tube directly into the puppy’s stomach. Usually required in newborn puppies if the mother is unable to feed due to death or disease, eg. if the dam dies during a c section. Should never be attempted without experienced help as there is a real possibility that the tube can be placed in the lungs in error.

Umbilical cord – the cord which attaches the puppy to the placenta allowing nutrients and blood to reach the puppy.

Umbilical Hernia – an opening in the wall of the stomach where the umbilical cord had been. Occasionally a little fat may push through, though there is a small danger that organs could come through. Quite often heals over as the puppy grows older.

Uterine Inertia – a birth problem where the mother’s uterus does not contract properly to push the puppies through the birth canal.

Water Bag – sac filled with fluid which surrounds the puppy while in the uterus. Provides lubrication in the birth canal.

Weaning – the gradual process where the puppies are changed over from mother’s milk to solid foods.

Webbed – means connected by a membrane.

Webbed Toes – are connected by a skin membrane; important for water-retrieving dogs like Labrador Retrievers, providing help in swimming.

Whelping – the procedure during which a female dog gives birth to puppies.

Tame – Brought from wildness into a manageable or easily controlled states. Tame animals may be handled by humans and used in some cases to perform work, Domesticated animals, on the other hand, are animals that have, over a series of generation, become accustomed to living with humans and which have, to varying degrees, become dependent upon humans to provide for their needs. Domestic animals that live in a wild state are call feral animals.

Top Predator – A predator, usually large in size, that is rarely killed by other predators and may kill smaller predators. Wolves are top predators and have few natural enemies. They may kill smaller predators such as coyotes. Sometimes wolves and bears will tangle, but this is infrequent as such encounters can be dangerous or deadly to both.

Track – A print left by an animal. Wolf tracks are large in comparison to most domestic dogs and other canids such as coyotes. The front feet are larger than the back feet. Claws are usually visible. This is one way to distinguish a wolf track from a mountain lion track. Mountain lions (cougars) walk with their claws retracted the way a domestic cat does.

Ungulate – A hoofed mammal, such as deer, elk, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, moose, antelope, caribou and bison.

Viable Population – A self-supporting population with sufficient numbers and genetic variety among healthy individuals and breeding pairs that are well enough distributed to ensure that the species will not become threatened, endangered or extinct in the foreseeable future.

Wild – Not tame or domestic. Wild animals obtain their own food and provide for their own needs in an area that serves as a suitable habitat.

Wilderness Area – An uninhabited area left in its natural condition. Wilderness areas designated by the federal government are for non-consumptive use of resources, although hunting is permitted during designated season. In some cases, wildfires are not fought in federal wilderness areas, and no machinery is permitted, not even chain saws. Visitors are encouraged to “leave only footprints, take only memories.”

Wildlife – Animals that are not tamed or domesticated. Wildlife can range in size from microscopic organisms to animals as large as whales.