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Wolf Puppy Physical and social development

Christina Merkl

– AHA Wolf Education Programs Coordinator

Wolves live in many diverse and changing environments. The preparation and care of pups is fairly consistent around the world as is pup development. The following timeline provides information on the development of various physical and behavioral tools that wolves have for survival.


NEONATAL PERIOD:

Birth to eyes open (12-14 days) and period of most growth: Have dark fur, rounded heads and are unable to self-regulate their body temperature. They are blind and deaf; have small ears, and a “pugged” nose with hardly any sense of smell. They can however taste and touch very well. They are limited to a very slow crawl, mainly with their front legs but they have a good sense of balance at their young age. They can suck and lick only and can whine and yelp. They will feed 4-5 times a day for lengths of 3 to 5 minutes. The females gain an average of 2.6 pounds and males gain an average of 3.3 pounds per week for the next 14

weeks.


TRANSITIONAL PERIOD: EYE OPENING TO 12+DAYS

The eyes open and are Blue at 11-15 days but they ARE not fully developed and pups cannot perceive forms until weeks later. The milk incisors are present at 15 days; they can eat small pieces of regurgitated meat. They begin to stands and walk; vocalizations include growls, whimpering and squeaks, first high pitch attempts at howling are started . Weight: 3.5 pounds

SOCIALIZATION PERIOD: 20-24 DAYS TO 77 DAYS

Pups/cubs begin appearing outside of the den and playing near the entrance Ears begin to raise around 27 days and hearing improves significantly. 

Around 31 days the ears are erect but with the tips still flopping. Canines and premolar teeth present. Disproportionately large feet and head. Short, high-pitched howls gain strength. Mother may go off for hours on end to hunt.      

Dominance and play fighting begin. Gradual process of weaning begins. Can follow adults up to a mile away from the den.

JUVENILE PERIOD: 12 WEEKS TO SEXUAL MATURITY (1-3 YEARS)AT 8-10 WEEKS:


Adults abandon den and move pups to rendezvous site. Weaning complete, pups feed on food provided by adults. Adult guard hairs become apparent on body.

AT 8-16 WEEKS:


Eyes gradually change from Blue to Yellow Gold. Pups begin to follow adults on hunting trips for a short while and return to the den by themselves. Weight: 22-30 pounds.


PERIOD OF RAPID GROWTH 14-27 WEEKS


Pups will gain approximately 1.3

pounds per week over the next three months. Weight 28-70 pounds. Milk teeth replaced. Winter fur becomes

apparent and pup appearance is nearly indistinguishable from adults. Pups begin to accompany adults on hunts.

SEXUAL MATURITY: 1-3 YEARS


Hormonal changes signal sexual maturity. May choose to disperse from pack. Weight 60-100 plus pounds



PERIOD OF SLOW GROWTH; 27-51 WEEKS


Female pups will gain approximately 0.7 pounds per week and male pups will gain approximately 4 pounds per week. Pups begin to travel with pack. Begin actively hunting. Epiphyseal cartilage closes off signaling the end of skeletal growth. Pups status in the pack may start to take shape with pups displaying either more dominant or submissive behaviors. Weight 60-100 pounds