Difference Between Wolf and Coyote

Main Difference – Wolf vs Coyote

Wolves and coyotes are the members of the Canidae family. This family also includes foxes and dogs. All these members have similar physical appearance although they differ in many ways. The main difference between wolf and coyote is their size. An adult wolf is larger than an adult coyote. The rest of the differences will be discussed briefly in this article.Difference between Wolf and Coyote - infographic

Wolf – Facts, Characteristics, and Behaviour

Wolves are closer relatives of dogs and are much similar to large dogs. There are only three species of wolves found in the world today, namely; gray wolf, red wolf and Ethiopian wolf. All wolves are excellent hunters, and they can bring down larger animals like caribou and moose. Their fur is very thick and double-layered. Gray wolves usually have gray and white color fur whereas red wolves, and Ethiopian wolves have reddish brown fur. Gray wolf is the largest member whereas Ethiopian wolf is the smallest. Gray wolves are common in North America, Europe, and Asia, whereas red and Ethiopian wolves are very rear. They have very strong jaws and huge sharp teeth. Their eyesight, hearing and sense of smell are well developed. An adult gray wolf may weigh between 23-68 kg and is 5-6 ft long from the nose to tip of its tail. Wolves are social animals and live and hunt in packs. A pack may consist of 2-25 wolves. They are among the top mammals that communicate frequently.

Difference Between Wolf and Coyote

Coyote – Facts, Characteristics, and Behaviour

Coyote is a carnivorous dog-like mammal living in many parts of North America extending from Alaska to Central America. They are extremely adaptable mammals and often confused with foxes and wolves. An adult coyote is larger than a fox but smaller than an adult wolf. An adult coyote is usually 4 ft long from the nose to the tip of the tail, and 20-24 inches tall at the shoulders. Adults usually weigh between 20-24 inches. Males are somewhat larger than females. They have bushy tails, long legs, and sharp teeth. Unlike wolves, they keep their tail down between legs while running. They are usually active throughout the day. Coyotes mainly feed on birds, fish, insects, rabbits, hares, mice, squirrels, frogs, and snakes. In addition, they also feed on carrion. Coyote’s fur on the sides and back of the body is usually gray, brown or red. Their chests and undersides are covered with cream-colored fur while the fur on their tips of their tails is black in color. Their lifespan is about 5-6 years. Some live in groups called packs, and some are solitary. Litter size is about 6.

Main Difference - Wolf vs Coyote

Difference Between Wolf and Coyote

Scientific name

Wolves’ scientific name is  Canis lupus (gray wolf)

Coyote’s scientific name is Canis latrans.

Height and Weight

Wolves (adult) weigh between 23-68 kg and is 5-6 ft long from the nose to tip of its tail.

Coyotes (adult) weigh between 6.8 – 21 kg inches and is 4 ft long from the nose to the tip of the tail.

 Size of an adult

Wolves are larger than coyotes.

Coyotes are smaller than wolfs but larger than foxes.

Position of the tail

Wolves keep their tail straight while running.

Coyotes keep their tail down between hind legs while running.


Wolves feed on larger animals like deer, caribou, and moose.

Coyotes feed on smaller animals like rabbits, hares, birds, etc.

Social behavior

Wolves always live and hunt in packs.

Coyotes may live in packs or lead a solitary life.

Teeth and claws

Wolves’ claws and teeth are more powerful and sharper than coyotes.

Coyotes’ claws and teeth are less powerful and less sharp than coyotes.


Wolves are found in North America, Asia, and Europe

Coyotes are restricted to North America.

 Image Courtesy:

“Canis Lupus Signatus”By Juan José González Vega – handed over by the author to the Project (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

“Canis latrans -Furnace Creek Golf Course, Death Valley, California, USA-8” By Dawn Beattie from Morro Bay, CA, USA – Uploaded by snowmanradio (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia 

About the Author: Yashoda

Yashoda has been a freelance writer in the field of biology for about four years. He is an expert in conducting research related to polymer chemistry and nano-technology. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Applied Science and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Chemistry.