51 of the Most Colorful Wolves and Other Wild Dogs in the World

The noble and mysterious wolf has long been a symbol across cultures. Sometimes representing evil and sometimes quiet strength, the wolf is a beloved part of countless fairy tales and stories. And while most of us are familiar with the gray wolf, the wolf (and its close relatives) comes in surprisingly many colors!

Here’s our list of the world’s most colorful wolves and other wild dogs:

1. Himalayan Wolf

Closeup of Himalayan wolf aka Canis Lupus Chanco.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus chanco
  • Habitat: Mostly mountainous areas of Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Bhutan
  • Size: About 77 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly deer, gazelles, and other wild animals, although they will also prey on livestock
  • Colorful feature: The Himalayan wolf is lighter than many wolves on the list, though the color varies between individuals. Some have brown and black agouti coloration like the wolf in the photo. Others are generally paler all over and may be close to pale yellow or white.

The striking Himalayan wolf, like many wolves on the list, is a subspecies of Canis lupus, the gray wolf. Notably, though it is closely related to other wolf species, it has a much different howl. Its howling is lower in frequency than that of most other wolves. Each howl also has a much shorter duration.

2. New Guinea Singing Dog

Side profile of New Guinea Singing Dog.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus dingo
  • Habitat: Most of the New Guinea Highlands on the island of New Guinea
  • Size: About 18 to 30 pounds
  • Diet: Rodents, marsupials, birds, and fruit
  • Colorful feature: Like many wolves and wolf relatives on the list, the New Guinea singing dog varies somewhat in color. Often, it is a rich chestnut red like the dog in the picture. Most individuals get a bit paler toward the belly.

Oddly enough, the New Guinea singing dog (technically a subspecies of wolf) shares a taxonomic name with the Australian dingo. Despite that fact, the two types of wild dogs are somewhat different. This naming convention is not set in stone, and there’s a fair bit of debate around the naming of these species and whether it should be updated.

3. Coyote-Red Wolf Hybrid

Coyote-Red Wolf Hybrid standing in field.
  • Latin name: Canis latrans x Canis rufus
  • Habitat: Anywhere the range of the coyote and the red wolf overlap
  • Size: About 5-45 pounds
  • Diet: Largely smaller mammals
  • Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, the coyote/red wolf hybrid has elements of the coloration of both canid species. Though individual hybrids will look a bit different, many combine the dark gray-brown color of a typical coyote with accents of the rich red often seen on red wolves.

Wolves, dogs, and coyotes are capable of interbreeding, sometimes with interesting results. Animals resulting from a mixture of wolf and coyote parentage are sometimes called “coywolves.” Some of them have one wolf parent and one coyote parent. Others are the result of interbreeding over time, and one or both parents may also be a coywolf. 

4. Eurasian Wolf

Portrait of a Eurasian wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus lupus
  • Habitat: Various habitat types across parts of Eurasia, especially in northern areas
  • Size: About 86 pounds, but very large individuals can be up to 174 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly wild deer, boar, and moose, although they will also eat livestock and garbage
  • Colorful feature: This beautiful wolf species usually has the classic black-brown patterning, but the base color is generally warmer and more yellowish than that of other subspecies. Thanks to past interbreeding with dogs, the Eurasian wolf can occasionally be melanistic (all black), albino (all white), or erythristic (unusually red).

In much of its range, the Eurasian wolf is called the “common wolf.” This large and imposing subspecies has been highly respected across many Eurasian cultures: Greek, Roman, Baltic, Celtic, Slavic, and Turkish cultures all held a deep respect for it.

5. Saarloos Wolfdog

Saarloos Wolfdog in snowy forest.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Habitat: Domestic
  • Size: Up to about 100 pounds
  • Diet: Domestic dog food
  • Colorful feature: This stunning hybrid breed comes in three colors. Wolf-gray (like the dog in the picture) is the most common, but you may sometimes find individuals in red or white.

Wolfdog breeds are those that originated with crossing dogs and wolves. This notable breed has the most wolf ancestry of any recognized breed. It began in the Netherlands with the crossing of a German shepherd and a gray wolf from Siberia. More German Shepherd blood was added by crossing the offspring with German Shepherds as well. The breed was intended to be a working dog, but it ended up being a companion dog breed.

6. Italian Wolf

Pack of Italian wolves in tall grass.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus italicus
  • Habitat: Most of the Apennine Mountains and the Western Alps on the Italian Peninsula
  • Size: Usually between 55 and 77 pounds
  • Diet: Wild mammals and sometimes livestock
  • Colorful feature: These pretty, fluffy wolves tend to be paler and redder than most Canis lupus subspecies. As you can see in the picture, some individuals have patches of the grayish pattern we’ve come to associate with wolves. Others have much more red coloring, especially on the face and ears.

You might see this lovely species called the Apennine wolf. Though the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) currently classifies it as vulnerable, its population has made a huge comeback! In the 1970s, the wild population was estimated to be 70-100 individuals. Italy introduced protective legislation at that point, and by 2019, the wild population was estimated to be between 1500-2000 individuals.

7. Side-Striped Jackal

Side-Striped Jackal next to tall grass.
  • Latin name: Canis adustus
  • Habitat: Scrub and woodland areas in parts of central and southern Africa
  • Size: About 14 to 31 pounds
  • Diet: Primarily invertebrates in the wet season and vertebrates in the dry season; it will also eat fruit and other types of plant matter
  • Colorful feature: True to the name, the side-striped jackal has white flank stripes on a buff-gray coat. Some individuals like the jackal in the picture have very distinctive stripes. Others have stripes that are much more indistinct.

The side-striped jackal stands out among canids. It’s one of the few omnivores, and in rural areas, fruit can sometimes be up to 30% of its diet. It also will sometimes live solitarily, something that’s unusual for most canid species.

8. Arctic Wolf

Side view of Arctic Wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus arctos
  • Habitat: Arctic tundra in the Queen Elizabeth Islands in Canada
  • Size: Usually between 70 and 175 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly Arctic hares and muskoxen
  • Colorful feature: The stunning Arctic wolf is one of the most unique wolves on the list, as it is pure white in color. As you might guess, its snowy coat helps it to blend in with its surroundings.

Fittingly, this gray wolf subspecies is sometimes simply called the “white wolf” or “polar wolf.” If you want to see an Arctic wolf, it might be a bit challenging to spot one in the wild, as they spend their whole lives above the treeline in mountainous areas. But if you do happen to spot one, it will be worth it: these wolves are not very afraid of people and may even approach you in the wild!

9. Eastern Coyote

Eastern Coyote running on snowy field.
  • Latin name: Canis latrans var
  • Habitat: Various habitat types throughout the eastern United States and the eastern Canadian provinces
  • Size: Usually between 45-55 pounds
  • Diet: Just about any type of animal they can hunt, although they will also sometimes eat berries
  • Colorful feature: The eastern coyote has elements of coloration of both the coyote and the gray wolf. Like the animal in the picture, many eastern coyotes are a rich agouti blend of black, brown, and reddish buff. The legs are usually more reddish, and the tail often has a distinctive black tip.

This animal has a somewhat misleading name. It sounds as though it’s just another coyote, but it’s actually an animal with mixed wolf and coyote parentage. This unique canid variety emerged after wolves were mostly chased out of parts of Canada, when the remaining wolves bred with coyotes.

10. Mexican Wolf

Close-up portrait of a Mexican gray wolf
  • Latin name: Canis lupus baileyi
  • Habitat: Various habitat types in northern Mexico, southern Arizona, and southern New Mexico
  • Size: About 60 to 80 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly the Coues’ white-tailed deer, though it may also eat other mammals
  • Colorful feature: The stunning Mexican wolf is generally darker than most gray wolf subspecies. Its back is black or near-black, while the undercoat is more of a yellowish color. Often, the black part of the coat appears to be less blended into the coat than it does on some subspecies, so the wolf’s coat is a lovely study in contrast!

Currently, the Mexican wolf is classified as an endangered species. But captive breeding and recolonization efforts have made a major difference in the wild population. In 1979, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service started the Mexican Wolf Recovery Plan. The plan created captive breeding programs to restore the Mexican wolf to its native range. Thus far, the population has been steadily growing.

11. Bush Dog

Bush dog standing on tree trunk.
  • Latin name: Speothos venaticus
  • Habitat: Forest undergrowth in many parts of South America
  • Size: About 11-18 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly various types of rodents
  • Colorful feature: The odd-looking bush dog is colorful in a subtle sort of way. Many individuals have darker legs and muzzles, with the rest of the body being a mixture of different shades of brown. The top of the head and the ears tend to be a bit more reddish.

Despite the name, the bush dog is one of the least doglike of the wolf relatives. Though it’s hard to describe, you might say it looks a bit like a mixture of a dog, a cat, and a tiny bear! Its closest canid relatives are the maned wolf and the African wild dog. Currently, it is classified as being “near threatened” by the IUCN. Despite its very large range, it is only commonly seen in Peru, Guyana, and Suriname.

12. British Columbian Wolf

Up-close view of British Columbian Wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus columbianus
  • Habitat: Temperate rainforest close to the coast of British Columbia and parts of Alaska
  • Size: About 80-150 pounds
  • Diet: Deer and other mammals, though some wolves close to the coast also eat fish
  • Colorful feature: This wolf has the beautiful heathered gray patterning that many wolf species have. But as you can see in the picture, its piercing yellow-amber eyes may well be its most colorful feature! On melanistic (all black) individuals, the intense eyes are especially noticeable.

The British Columbian wolf is one of the many, many gray wolf subspecies. Scientists believe that this species was once part of a wide-ranging species of wolves, as they appear to be closely related to wolves once living in Oklahoma. This wolf’s status as an independent is somewhat disputed, as one study proposed that three gray wolf subspecies (the Alexander Archipelago wolf, the British Columbia Wolf, and the Vancouver Island wolf) should all be merged into a single subspecies.

13. Chinese Dhole

Profile of Chinese Dhole up-close.
  • Latin name: Cuon alpinus lepturus
  • Habitat: Various habitat types south of China’s Yangtze River
  • Size: About 22-44 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly various types of small animals, though they will also eat fruit and other plant material.
  • Colorful feature: Compared to some dhole subspecies, the Chinese dhole generally has less white on the ruff and belly. And as you can see in the photo, the lovely reddish color usually has tinges of smoky black that give it wonderfully complex coloring!

This unusually-named wild dog has been called by a number of other names, including the Asiatic wild dog, the Indian wild dog, red dog, Asian wild dog, whistling dog, and even mountain wolf. The Chinese dhole is one of the many different-looking subspecies found across Asia. Often, it is fluffier than other subspecies, especially the sleek-looking, deep red Indian dhole. Notably, this one and other dhole species share a name with a creature from H.P. Lovecraft’s work. In Lovecraft’s books, dholes are massive creatures resembling worms.

14. Mackenzie River Wolf

Mackenzie River Wolf isolated against blue background.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus mackenzii
  • Habitat: Throughout the southern part of Canada’s Northwest Territories
  • Size: About 80-175 pounds
  • Diet: Various types of larger wild mammals
  • Colorful feature: The Mackenzie River wolf often has different coloring than many other wolf subspecies. Some individuals like the one in the picture have coats that are a roan-like mixture of black (or dark gray) and white. Others are noticeably paler and have creamy or off-white coats. Like some other wolf subspecies, they usually have intense golden or amber eyes.

If you’re someone who likes to visit national parks in hopes of seeing rare and beautiful animals, you might be happy to know that you can find the Mackenzie River wolf within Canada’s Thaidene Nëné National Park Reserve. If you try to research this unique gray wolf subspecies, you may not find too much, as very little has been published on it. However, it does make a notable appearance in literature: it was featured in the Jack London novel “White Fang.”

15. Cape Wild Dog

Portrait of a Cape Hunting dog, Kruger Park, South Africa.
  • Latin name: Lycaon pictus pictus
  • Habitat: Rocky parts of the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa
  • Size: About 40-80 pounds
  • Diet: Largely kudu, gazelles, and wildebeest
  • Colorful feature: The handful of subspecies of the African wild dog are among the most colorful canids on the list! The Cape wild dog has a black base color with a large amount of orange spotted across it. The neck and belly are largely yellow.

Each canid species has its own interesting behaviors, but African wild dogs have one that is truly unusual. They appear to “vote” on whether or not they will go hunting. One dog will make a sneeze-like sound. If a large enough number of dogs in the pack sneeze in response, the pack will leave and go hunting. Unfortunately, the African wild dog species as a whole is considered to be endangered. The small population size as well as the species’ avoidance of inbreeding means it may go extinct in the near future.

16. Northwestern Wolf

Northwestern wolf standing in the forest.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus occidentalis
  • Habitat: Parts of British Columbia and the northwestern parts of the United States; there is a population that has been relocated to Yellowstone National Park as well
  • Size: About 85-135 pounds
  • Diet: Largely elk, though they will occasionally attack sick, weakened, or very young bison
  • Colorful feature: Some wild-type wolves have brownish fur mixed in with gray, but the northwestern wolf is overwhelmingly white and gray. Some individuals exhibit husky-like patterning where the lower body is more white and the upperparts are marked in black or gray.

Like most types of wolves across the world, the northwestern wolf is a subspecies of the gray wolf. It’s a very large subspecies whose coloration tends to align with what most people see when they imagine wolves. The black or gray upperparts almost always have white hairs interspersed, so the animals have a softer, almost roan-like appearance. The darker upperparts and large amount of white help them to blend into the forest environments where they usually hunt.

17. Alaskan Interior Wolf

Alaskan Interior Wolf in exhibit.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus pambasileus
  • Habitat: Largely forests and tundra in the interior part of Alaska and the Yukon
  • Size: About 70-130 pounds
  • Diet: Largely moose, caribou, and Dall sheep
  • Colorful feature: The Alaskan interior wolf has distinctive coloring that differs from that of many Alaskan wolves. It has a more or less uniform color across the body. Much of the fur is very pale gray, and there’s a good bit of pale yellow-orange fur mixed in as well. That combination makes this species have a much warmer pattern than most wolves on the list.

This subspecies is also called the Yukon wolf. It has historically been an animal of significant cultural importance, as Aboriginal people hunted it for its fur. When colonists arrived, they also hunted it for its fur, often selling pelts to tribes in order to help them make clothing. According to the NatureServe program for monitoring conservation status, the Alaskan interior wolf population is “apparently secure.”

18. East African Black-Backed Jackal

Front view of an East African black-backed jackal.
  • Latin name: Canis mesomelas schmidti
  • Habitat: Various habitat types across much of rural East Africa
  • Size: About 13-30 pounds
  • Diet: Various small or medium animals, plant matter, and even garbage
  • Colorful feature: This striking canine is mostly a sandy red color. However, its most interesting feature is probably the “saddle,” a triangular patch running down the back. This patch is black with striking, high-contrast white grizzling.

The East African black-backed jackal (along with the other black-backed jackal subspecies, the Cape black-backed jackal) is one of the more ancient canids on our list. Examination of fossil records has revealed that the species hasn’t changed much at all since the Pleistocene epoch, a time period that ranged from 2.6 million years ago to 11,700 years ago.

19. Steppe Wolf

Steppe Wolf near small stream.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus campestris
  • Habitat: Various steppe regions including the Caspian steppe, steppes of the Caucasus and southern Kazakhstan, along the Volga river in Russia, and in surrounding areas
  • Size: About 77-88 pounds
  • Diet: Primarily wild mammals, though diet varies by exact location
  • Colorful feature: The steppe wolf is another gray wolf species whose coloration has an overall warmish hue. It is usually pale gray with a mixture of rusty, brownish, or black hairs.

Though the steppe wolf is generally wild, it is sometimes kept in captivity. Villagers in Kazakhstan will sometimes keep steppe wolves to work as guard animals. And like the Mackenzie Valley wolf, it is also of some literary significance. Hermann Hesse’s 1927 novel der Steppenwolf comes from the steppe wolf’s German name.

20. Tamaskan

Tamaskan on sand.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Habitat: Domestic dog
  • Size: About 55-88 pounds
  • Diet: Domestic dog food
  • Colorful feature: Since the Tamaskan has wolf ancestry and was further developed using wolf-like breeds, it generally has coloration similar to that of a wolf. Wolf-gray is the most common color, but you can also find it in red-gray or black-gray.

Plenty of people have a strong interest in wolf-dog hybrids. And some breed developers have gone so far as to develop “wolfdog” breeds from both dogs and wolves. The Tamaskan was created from the Northern Inuit dog, a breeding project using huskies, malamutes, and German shepherds. The breed was intended to be a companion animal that was relatively trainable.

21. Iberian Wolf

Close-up of Iberian Wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus signatus
  • Habitat: Much of the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula
  • Size: About 55-120 pounds
  • Diet: Largely wild boar, deer, ibexes, rabbits, and sometimes fish and smaller carnivores
  • Colorful feature: The subspecies name, signatus, refers to a distinctive colorful feature: Iberian wolves have a pair of dark marks on the front legs. They also have broad white stripes along the snout. Generally, they have a reddish base color with black agouti patterning across much of the upper body and face.

The large and striking Iberian wolf is currently classified by the IUCN as being vulnerable to extinction. Despite that fact, many hunters in Europe seek it out as a big-game trophy. It is extremely hard to kill, as sightings are few and far between. The wolf is also so vigilant that it will often spot a hunter before the hunter sees it. It is only legal to hunt in Spain, but very few hunting permits are issued each year.

22. Common Raccoon Dog

Raccoon dog in the wild.
  • Latin name: Nyctereutes procyonoides
  • Habitat: Mainland areas of eastern Asia and Vietnam
  • Size: About 7-22 pounds
  • Diet: Many types of small animals, mollusks, carrion, fruit, and nuts
  • Colorful feature: Most common raccoon dogs have a gray-brown coat with black hairs mixed in, as well as black, raccoon-like markings on the face. However, in China, you might be fortunate enough to see two rare color forms. It can sometimes be white or even yellow!

The raccoon dog may well be the strangest canid! Its name is accurate, as it looks more like a raccoon than it does a dog. It is also one of only two canids that can climb trees; the other is the gray fox of North America.

23. Arabian Wolf

Arabian Wolf in desert.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus arabs
  • Habitat: Parts of the Arabian Peninsula, Jordan, the Sinai Desert, and the Negev Desert
  • Size: About 45 pounds
  • Diet: Both small to medium animals and various types of plant matter
  • Colorful feature: This pretty wolf usually has a base color of pale red or grayish beige. The mixture of black into the coat, especially on the back, gives it a distinctive smoky cast.

You may not think of wolves as being desert creatures, but this subspecies of gray wolf is able to thrive in desert parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Possibly due to the harsh environment it calls home, the Arabian wolf is the smallest of the gray wolf subspecies.

24. Indian Jackal

Close-up of Indian jackal standing on sandy road against green forest background.
  • Latin name: Canis aureus indicus
  • Habitat: Lowland areas close to the edges of villages and farms in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, and Pakistan
  • Size: About 18-24 pounds
  • Diet: Usually antelopes and small deer, though it will also eat various types of plant matter
  • Colorful feature: At first glance, the colors of the Indian jackal look a little like that of a gray fox. Its back is black with white patterning or grizzling, while the rest of its body is primarily red to gold.

The Indian jackal is one of the subspecies of the golden jackal. It looks a bit like a fox, so it’s somewhat fitting that it plays the “trickster” role in Nepali and Indian folklore as the red fox does in Western folklore.

25. Labrador Wolf

Labrador wolf in its natural environment.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus labradorius
  • Habitat: Various parts of Labrador and northern Quebec in Canada
  • Size: About 40-80 pounds
  • Diet: Primarily caribou and other large mammals
  • Colorful feature: The Labrador wolf, like many northern wolves, is usually white, black, gray, or a mixture of those colors. Sometimes, a sighting of an almost pure white individual comes up!

This medium-sized gray wolf subspecies has enjoyed a rise in population somewhat recently. It was over-hunted in the early 1900s, but a spike in the caribou population led to a spike in the wolf population as well. In some cases, captured or shot animals need to be genetically tested to determine whether they are coyotes or Labrador wolves!

26. Red Wolf

Side profile of Red Wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus rufus
  • Habitat: Various parts of the southeastern United States
  • Size: About 45-80 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly deer and some smaller mammals
  • Colorful feature: True to the name, the red wolf usually has a reddish base color topped with black agouti patterning. Its snout, neck, and lower legs are usually white, making it especially striking!

Most types of wolves are subspecies of the gray wolf, but the red wolf is a separate, smaller species. Unfortunately, the IUCN classifies it as being critically endangered. There is currently a Species Survival Plan in place to help restore the population. 

27. European Jackal

European Jackal standing in rocks.
  • Latin name: Canis aureus moreoticus
  • Habitat: Much of southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Anatolia
  • Size: About 20-29 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly various smaller animals, though they sometimes eat fruit
  • Colorful feature: The European jackal is one of the brighter canines on our list. Its base coat is usually a lively reddish or yellowish with contrasting black fur on the back.

The colorful European jackal is another of the golden jackal subspecies. Interestingly enough, it has expanded its range to more of Europe since the 1970s. Experts believe that may be because the populations of various gray wolf subspecies have decreased since then.

28. Hudson Bay Wolf

Hudson Bay Wolf looking at camera.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus hudsonicus
  • Habitat: Throughout the northern part of Canada’s Keewatin region
  • Size: About 80-140 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly large mammals
  • Colorful feature: The Hudson Bay wolf is one of the prettiest gray wolf subspecies! It is white in color with intense yellowish eyes that really stand out.

If you aren’t too familiar with the various wolf subspecies, this one is easy to confuse with the arctic wolf. However, it has a somewhat flatter skull. Despite its beauty, the Hudson Bay wolf has not been studied as much as many other subspecies of the gray wolf.

29. Serengeti Wolf

Pack of Serengeti wolves.
  • Latin name: Canis lupaster bea
  • Habitat: Parts of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania and Kenya
  • Size: About 15-30 pounds
  • Diet: Largely smaller reptiles, insects, and larvae, though it may sometimes kill larger mammals
  • Colorful feature: This wolf has a pale reddish base coat with a white neck and belly similar to that of a red fox. Its back has an interesting grizzled black and white or gray and white pattern.

This small wolf looks a lot like a fox. Thanks to its small size, it usually works in pairs when hunting smaller gazelles and other mammals. Though it’s athletic, it is not incredibly quick; it rarely hunts hares because the hares can routinely outrun it!

30. Dingo-Dog Hybrid

Dingo-Dog Hybrid isolated on white background.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus dingo x Canis lupus familiaris
  • Habitat: Various parts of Australia
  • Size: Variable, but usually around 30-40 pounds
  • Diet: Many types of small animals and sometimes seeds
  • Colorful feature: Since domestic dogs come in a whole range of colors, it’s hard to say what exact coloring a given dog-dingo hybrid will have. Many, like the one in the picture, have the same sorrel-brown coloring typical of dingoes.

The hybridization of dingoes and domestic dogs (both of which are gray wolf subspecies) in Australia has become increasingly common. But did you know some actual breeds have been developed from dingo-dog hybrids? One prominent one is the red Australian cattle dog, a popular pet and working breed.

31. Maned Wolf

Maned Wolf standing next to rock wall.
  • Latin name: Chrysocyon brachyurus
  • Habitat: Primarily grassland areas of Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Bolivia
  • Size: About 44-66 pounds
  • Diet: Typically smaller mammals
  • Colorful feature: The striking maned wolf is almost all reddish-orange. It has contrasting black stockings on the legs and a short black mane along the neck.

Despite the name, the maned wolf is not a subspecies of the red wolf or the gray wolf. Its long, lanky physique makes it easily one of the most graceful creatures on the list. It typically hunts alone at twilight and is a beautiful sight!

32. Indian Dhole

Indian Dhole standing in front of tree.
  • Latin name: Cuon alpinus adjustus
  • Habitat: Mostly mountainous or coastal regions in northeastern India and northern Myanmar
  • Size: About 22-46 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly larger mammals
  • Colorful feature: The Indian dhole is the brightest of the dhole subspecies. Its whole body is a rich, glossy red chestnut color. Its tail has black hairs mixed in throughout, giving it a darker and distinctive appearance.

The dhole, like many canids, hunts in packs. However, it uses a much different strategy than most. The dhole usually isn’t fast enough to catch prey right away, but it will chase it for an extended period of time. A pack will run behind the prey animal more slowly while pairs or individuals take turns sprinting after it.

33. African Golden Wolf

African Golden Wolf in natural habitat.
  • Latin name: Canis lupaster
  • Habitat: Primarily semi-arid parts of Africa
  • Size: About 15-33 pounds
  • Diet: Usually small animals, but it may attack larger prey and eat various types of plant matter as well
  • Colorful feature: Most African golden wolves look a bit like gray wolves with underparts that are closer to being gold.

The African golden wolf plays an interesting role in African folklore. Some cultures view it as untrustworthy and use it for medicinal purposes. However, the Serer religion in Senegal believes it was the first animal created by Roog, the Supreme God. This was likely the wolf that inspired the wolf-like images of many Egyptian deities, too.

34. Wolf-Husky Hybrid

Close-up of Wolf-Husky Hybrid.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris x Canis lupus
  • Habitat: Domestic dog
  • Size: About 75-155 pounds
  • Diet: Domestic dog food
  • Colorful feature: Wolf-husky hybrids can come in a range of colors, though they usually have whitish undercoats with black or gray upperparts. Some have the stunning crystal-blue eyes that many huskies have!

This mixture of two gray wolf subspecies makes an interesting exotic pet. However, wolf-husky hybrids still maintain plenty of wolf characteristics: they have a high prey drive, are very active, and aren’t usually very affectionate. These features combined with the relatively large size mean that wolf-husky hybrids certainly aren’t the best pets for everyone.

35. Melanistic Gray Wolf

Close-up of Melanistic Gray Wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus
  • Habitat: Any part of the gray wolf’s range
  • Size: About 60-145 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly larger mammals
  • Colorful feature: Melanistic gray wolves have a genetic condition that causes them to be all black in color. Plenty of them also have stunning greenish yellow eyes that really stand out against the pitch black coat!

Melanism happens in a range of different animal species. Luckily for the animals, it isn’t as harmful as albinism. Albino wolves will often have trouble hunting, as they lack the ability to camouflage like most wild-type individuals. Melanistic wolves may not always camouflage quite as well, but they certainly have an easier time catching prey.

36. Japanese Raccoon Dog

Close-up of Japanese Raccoon Dog.
  • Latin name: Nyctereutes viverrinus
  • Habitat: Largely forested areas of Japan
  • Size: About 14-22 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly small animals and fruit
  • Colorful feature: This odd canid looks more like a raccoon than the common raccoon dog. You can clearly see the black raccoon-like markings on its face. The rest of the body has complex agouti patterning of gray, black, and brown.

The Japanese raccoon dog is one of only two raccoon dog species. In Japan, it plays a prominent and often comical role in folklore. The tanuki, as it is called in Japan, is said to be a shapeshifting master that is jolly yet gullible.

37. Dingo

Dingo standing on tree trunk.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus dingo
  • Habitat: Various habitat types across most of Australia
  • Size: About 31-36 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly a variety of small animals, though they eat some plants
  • Colorful feature: The dingo comes in three main colors: a gingery tan, creamy white, or black and tan.

We mentioned earlier that there’s some taxonomic confusion between the dingo and the New Guinea singing dog. They share a scientific name but have different ranges and different appearances. In Australian history, the dingo has been associated with vagabonds or otherwise dishonorable people. The word “dingo” was first used in the 1960s by politicians wanting to insult their opponents. Even today, “dingo” can be used as an insult meaning “coward” or “cheat.”

38. East African Wild Dog

East African Wild Dog in field.
  • Latin name: Lycaon pictus lupinus
  • Habitat: Rural parts of sub-Saharan Africa
  • Size: About 30-40 pounds
  • Diet: Primarily antelopes
  • Colorful feature: Though this subspecies is still quite bright, it isn’t quite as colorful as some other subspecies of the African wild dog. This one still has a black base coat with orange markings, though it has less orange than some other subspecies.

The East African wild dog is one of the larger subspecies of African wild dog. Unfortunately, along with the other subspecies, it is classified as an endangered species. You may have heard this and other subspecies called the “painted dog” as well. But interestingly enough, the name “painted dog” has been connected to poor social perceptions of the species.

39. Wolf-Akita Hybrid

Wolf-Akita Hybrid walking in snow.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris x Canis lupus
  • Habitat: Domestic dog
  • Size: About 50-100 pounds
  • Diet: Domestic dog food
  • Colorful feature: Wolf-Akita hybrids can come in a range of colors. As you can see in the picture, some hybrids have coloration more typical of domestic dogs (like red and white).

Wolf hybrids look dramatically different depending on which domestic dog breed they’re mixed with. Akitas look a bit wolflike themselves, so this mixture will generally look a good bit like a wolf. However, as is the case with many wolf hybrids, this one can be aggressive and has a high prey drive, so it is best left to experienced dog handlers!

40. Czechoslovakian Wolfdog

Head portrait of an alert Czechoslovakian wolfdog.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Habitat: Domestic dog
  • Size: About 44-80 pounds
  • Diet: Domestic dog food
  • Colorful feature: The Czechoslovakian Wolfdog is usually a gray-white mixture like most wolves. And like most German shepherds, it tends to have a much darker back that creates an ombre-like fade toward the belly.

This fascinating breed was developed in order to combine the German Shepherd’s trainability with the Eurasian wolf’s strength and stamina. The resulting breed has been used successfully as a border patrol dog as well as for hunting, herding, obedience, drafting, agility, and other dog sports. Notably, it is much more social with humans than many dog breeds with wolf ancestry.

41. Mountain Coyote

Coyote on the run.
  • Latin name: Canis latrans lestes
  • Habitat: Much of the northern Rocky Mountains as far north as Canada
  • Size: About 15-44 pounds
  • Diet: Primarily deer and smaller animals
  • Colorful feature: The mountain coyote is usually a complex and grizzled mixture of buff, gray, and white. It usually has intense greenish-yellow eyes that appear to be rimmed in black.

There are many subspecies of coyote, and each one has its own range across North America. Unsurprisingly, the rugged mountain coyote inhabits much of the Rocky Mountains. Compared to most other subspecies, it has proportionally large ears and tails. As you saw above with the eastern coyote, the mountain coyote and other coyote subspecies will sometimes hybridize with domestic dogs.

42. Golden Jackal

Golden jackal looking at camera.
  • Latin name: Canis aureus
  • Habitat: Various habitat types across southwestern Asia, South Asia, eastern Europe, and parts of southeast Asia
  • Size: About 18-22 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly small animals, carrion, and some plant matter
  • Colorful feature: The golden jackal varies somewhat in color. On the lighter end (usually in the summer) it is a pale and cream-like yellow. On the darker end, it is a deep reddish color with a good bit of the back covered in grizzled black.

The golden jackal is a colorful canine that has frequently appeared in folklore. An ancient Hindu text called the “Mahabharata” chronicles the story of a jackal who wants to be able to eat a gazelle and not share it. To do so, he pits his friends the mouse, mongoose, wolf, and tiger against one another.

43. Ethiopian Wolf

Close up of Ethiopian wolf walking on mossy rocks.
  • Latin name: Canis simensis
  • Habitat: Selected mountainous regions of Africa
  • Size: About 25-43 pounds
  • Diet: Rodents living in the Afroalpine region
  • Colorful feature: The Ethiopian wolf is one of the most colorful creatures on our list! Its fur is rich red with bright, contrasting white markings.

The Ethiopian wolf has several confusing common names. You might hear it called the Simien fox, the Simien jackal, or the horse jackal. It is unfortunately classified by the IUCN as being endangered. Luckily, Oxford University has begun the Ethiopian Wolf Conservation Programme to protect and rebuild its population.

44. Timber Wolf

Close-up of Timber Wolf.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus lycaon
  • Habitat: Certain wooded areas of northeastern North America
  • Size: About 40-175 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly white-tailed deer, though it will sometimes eat moose
  • Colorful feature: The timber wolf has unique and very pretty coloring. Much of its base coat is cinnamon brown, while the rest of the coat is grayish brown.

Nobody seems exactly sure where this wolf came from. It’s a subspecies of the gray wolf, but some studies suggest it arose from the hybridization of wolves and coyotes. Others suggest that it may be more closely related to the red wolf.

45. Sri Lankan Jackal

Sri Lankan Jackal in forest.
  • Latin name: Canis aureus naria
  • Habitat: Sri Lanka and coastal regions of Southwest India
  • Size: About 11-19 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly small to medium animals (up to the size of a water buffalo calf)
  • Colorful feature: This pretty subspecies has a darker back than other types of golden jackals. Its limbs are a rich rust color as opposed to gold.

The golden jackal has quite an extensive range. This species is the one that can be found in parts of Southeast Asia. Though it isn’t particularly big, it can become a threat to domestic livestock, preying on chickens and even new calves.

46. Vancouver Coastal Island Wolf

Vancouver Island wolf lying on the ground covered in greenery.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus crassodon
  • Habitat: Northern Vancouver Island and the Great Bear Rainforest
  • Size: About 60 pounds
  • Diet: Primarily different types of seafood
  • Colorful feature: These wolves usually have beautifully dusky coloring: they are a mix of black, gray, and dark brown. However, if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a pure white one!

Especially on Vancouver Island, these beautiful creatures are known as “sea wolves.” It’s an especially fitting name. They primarily eat seafood and are capable long-distance swimmers as well! Though they are not considered to be endangered or threatened, the population is fairly small. At least on Vancouver Island, it’s estimated that there are only about 180 individuals.

47. Domestic Dog

Collection of six adorable puppies.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus familiaris
  • Habitat: Domestic dog
  • Size: Varies greatly by breed
  • Diet: Domestic dog food
  • Colorful feature: As you likely already know, domestic dogs come in a huge range of colors and patterns, from spotted to brindle and merle. Some breeds even have coloration similar to that of wolves.

You might not expect to see the humble pet dog on the list. But the domestic dog is classified as a subspecies of the gray wolf! But even though our dogs are descended from wolves, many breeds (like Chihuahuas!) bear almost no resemblance to wolves at all. Others, like malamutes and huskies, retain more of their wolf-like characteristics.

48. Cape Black-Backed Jackal

Closeup portrait of two Black-backed Jackals looking at each other.
  • Latin name: Lupulella mesomelas mesomelas
  • Habitat: Many areas of Angola, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and the Cape of Good Hope
  • Size: About 13-30 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly antelopes and other hooved animals, though they will also feed on smaller animals if needed
  • Colorful feature: In comparison to the East African black-backed jackal, this one has a much shaggier black patch on the back. The rest of the body is yellowish-tan, while the back appears to be a mottling of black, brown, and cream.

The distinctive Cape black-backed jackal is not endangered or threatened. However, it is often hunted or harmed by humans. That’s because it is a predator of livestock as well as a vector for rabies.

49. Alaskan Tundra Wolf

Alaskan Tundra Wolf standing behind rocks.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus tundrarum
  • Habitat: Found throughout the Alaskan tundra
  • Size: About 80-176 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly larger mammals
  • Colorful feature: The Alaskan tundra wolf is a beautiful white color. Its coat allows it to camouflage easily with the barren, snowy ground where it lives and hunts.

This especially stunning subspecies of the gray wolf is also called the barren-ground wolf. That’s because it lives in bare areas of coastal tundra in Alaska. It’s somewhat easy to confuse this wolf with the tundra wolf, a similar-looking species that can be found on the Eurasian tundra. The tundra wolf is also a gray wolf subspecies.

50. West African Wild Dog

West African Wild Dog lying on dirt road.
  • Latin name: Lycaon pictus manguensis
  • Habitat: Largely grasslands in West Africa
  • Size: About 30-50 pounds
  • Diet: Various types of large and small mammals
  • Colorful feature: As you can see in the picture, the high-contrast coat of the West African wild dog is especially beautiful! Its base coat is often a combination of black and white, and it is marked in stunning, black-rimmed orange spots.

Though this wild dog is easily one of the most colorful on the list, it’s also one of the rarest. In the wild, experts estimate that there are only about 70 individual West African wild dogs alive in the wild. Some countries within its range have protected it by law.

51. Indian Wolf

Indian Wolf standing on rock.
  • Latin name: Canis lupus pallipes
  • Habitat: Various habitat types across Southwest Asia and parts of the Indian subcontinent
  • Size: About 37-55 pounds
  • Diet: Mostly antelopes, hares, and rodents
  • Colorful feature: This subspecies is usually grayer than other subspecies. Its coat is an eye-catching mixture of gray, cream, and small hints of red.

The Indian wolf has a more slender appearance than many gray wolf subspecies, largely because it lives in warmer areas where it does not need a winter coat. Unfortunately, it is one of the most endangered subspecies of the gray wolf in the world. Humans pose a significant threat to this wolf’s numbers, as it tends to prey on livestock if it cannot find wild animals to hunt.

Nature’s Brightly Colored Wolves and Other Wild Dogs

Hopefully, you now have a new knowledge and appreciation of the wolves and all the other wild dogs that color our world. Whether you see one in the wild or on a trip somewhere new, you’re sure to notice the bold colors and patterns found on our wild canine friends.