Fox vs Wolves: All Differences Explained


Foxes and wolves are two creatures that are commonly confused with each other. People find it somehow hard to determine if what they’re looking at is a fox or a wolf. Well, to help differentiate one from another, read on from this article and discover all of the differences between foxes and wolves.

Foxes and Wolves: How Do They Differ?

1. Body Size and Appearance

An adult wolf is generally larger and heavier than an adult fox. A wolf’s weight can reach up to 100 to 150 pounds, while a fox usually weighs less than 20 pounds. Wolves stand taller than foxes. A wolf can reach up to a height of 3 feet. A fox, on the other hand, stands at around 10-15 inches tall. Foxes have a flattened skull, narrow and upward-turned snout, big and upright ears, and slanted eyes. They have short legs and a long, fluffy tail that often has a white tip. Wolves, on the other hand, have a broader snout. They have shorter ears, longer limbs, and less bushy tails compared to a fox.

2. Fur Color

Most species of fox have a reddish-brown coat with some white fur on the chest and the face. But some subspecies appear in a variety of colors, such as white, black, and even grey. They have dark paws and dark markings around their ears and muzzles. Foxes usually shed their dense winter coat during April.

Wolves, however, have dense and coarse guard fur with a long, fluffy coat. They are typically mottled grey. However, some pure white, black, and brown wolves can also be found in the wild. The paws of the wolves get either the same color as their body or in a lighter shade. They do not have dark markings on the muzzle or ears. 

3. Habitat

Foxes live in forested areas, mountains, grasslands, and deserts. They dig burrows in the ground, which are called their dens. These dens provide them an area for slumber and food storage. They are also often used as a safe place for their pups.

Wolves can survive in diverse environments, including arctic tundra, woodlands, forests, and deserts. They typically inhabit a vast area in the Northern Hemisphere.

4. Behavior

It is known that wolves work and live in packs. A pack is a group of 6 to 10 wolves who hunt together and comprises an alpha male and female, older offspring, and maybe some pups. This shows that wolves are social creatures. Foxes, on the other hand, are solitary animals. They don’t live in packs. But it does not mean that they’re not responsible parents. When they already have to raise their young, they live in small families called “leash of foxes” in their underground dens.


5. What They Eat

Foxes hunt and eat animals that are smaller than them. These include rabbits, small reptiles, and birds. They’re not entirely carnivorous as they also consume fruits and berries. Unlike foxes, wolves are true carnivores. They look for and eat bigger prey, such as goats, deer, sheep, wild boars, etc.

6. How They Hunt

Nocturnal animals like foxes hunt at night and take a rest during the daytime. A solitary fox hunts in a similar way as a cat. It approaches slowly but surely and quietly before it strikes at an effective distance. It pounces and pins its prey before taking the bite. Reportedly, foxes have this magnetic sense, which they use to hunt their prey. They can see the magnetic field of the earth as a ring of shadow. When that shadow and the sound of the prey lines up, it’s time for the fox to pounce.

As mentioned, wolves hunt in packs. They don’t just rely on their fangs and claws to capture their prey. They use teamwork and smart tactics. The pack members may trail a herd of elks, bison, and other larger animals for days before they make their move. While trailing, they observe and determine the behavior and weakness of their target. They often choose prey that is isolated from the herd. They surround that prey, and then they attack.

7. How They Communicate

Foxes can communicate with their kind by growling, barking, and whining calls. They also use facial expressions, body postures, and scent markings to communicate. Wolves, as it is widely known, use their loud howls to call on other wolves. But wolves also bark and whine as forms of communication with each other.

8. Offspring

A female fox, also known as a vixen, can give birth to 4 or 5 babies. In their first two to three weeks, the babies are kept hidden in the dens to receive heat and nutrition from their mother. On their fourth week, they start emerging out from their underground dens to discover the world outside.

A female wolf, however, can have about 4 to 7 offspring. The entire pack helps in caring for the babies. Starting at 10 months of age and beyond, they become members of the pack and hunt their prey. Baby foxes are called kits, while baby wolves are known as pups.

Questions and answers

Question: Do foxes and wolves belong to the same family?

Answer: Yes, both foxes and wolves belong to the Canidae family or the canines. However, the Canidae family is further divided into two genera: the Canis and the Vulpes. The wolves belong to the genus Canis, while the foxes belong to the genus Vulpes.

Question: In a fight between a fox and a wolf, who would probably win?

Answer: Wolves are much bigger than foxes. They have larger muscular bodies that could mean a stronger power for wolves. Foxes are fast beings. So they could easily get away from wolves when predation is the intention. But if these two are forcefully made to battle against each other, the wolf would probably have a greater chance of winning because of its advantage in size and strength.

Question: Can a wolf or a fox be taken as a pet?

Answer: Among canines, dogs are the best choice for pets. Wolves are not good options to be domesticated as pets. Though wolves are strong and have high energy levels and stamina, they are erratic, difficult to train, and dangerous to kids and other animals. It will need an immense amount of effort to tame a wolf and obtain the same reliability as dogs. Foxes, on the other hand, can be domesticated. A domesticated fox is different from a tame one. A tame fox only learned to tolerate the presence of humans. A domesticated fox is docile towards humans since birth. These foxes are said to be curious and soft-tempered. However, like any other fox, they tend to dig into soils in the garden.

Question: What does the fox say?

Answer: Foxes have not just a single sound but 40 different ones! They can bark, yelp, whine, and even scream. The most startling sound must be its shrill screams.

Question: Do arctic foxes exist?

Answer: Yes. The arctic fox lives in the northernmost areas of the hemisphere. It can survive really cold temperatures. It doesn’t even shiver until -70 degrees Celsius. It has a white coat that camouflages into the ice and snow structures, giving it protection against predators. When the season changes, its fur’s color changes, too. It turns brown or gray, which also camouflages with the rocks of the tundra.

Question: Do foxes bite humans?

Answer: Usually, foxes don’t bite if they don’t sense danger. They only attack if they’re rabid or if they’re protecting their young. Like dog bites, fox bites are painful and could carry infections and several diseases, including rabies. When in an encounter with a fox, make some noise through clapping or wave your arms. Do not approach nor chase the fox as the creature could get provoked, and then, it might retaliate.

Question: Are foxes and wolves endangered?

Answer: Both the red fox and the gray wolf are categorized as “least concern” regarding their conservation status. That status is far less crucial than endangered. Wolves have just been recently removed from the list of endangered species across the United States. However, other foxes (Darwin’s fox and island fox) and wolves (Ethiopian wolf, red wolf, and Mexican gray wolf) are considered endangered.

Question: Is fox or wolf hunting illegal?

Answer: The legalization of hunting wildlife differs in every country. Back in 19th century Britain, the upper classes turned fox hunting into a formal sport. Men use dogs to chase a fox until it is killed. That sport is currently banned. According to the Hunting Act of 2004, fox hunting is not legal in England and Wales. The European Union, Canada, and Russia all impose regulations and restrictions about trapping red foxes. Europe and North America assign hunting and nonhunting seasons for foxes. 

For wolves, it’s sad to say that hunters are now allowed to kill nursing wolf mothers and their pups in their dens in Alaska. On June 9, 2020, the National Park Service removed the regulatory provisions that prohibited some hunting practices in the Alaska preserves. In Slovakia, wolves have become endangered because humans are hunting them. Just recently, after years of debate, Slovakia has finally banned wolf hunting in their country.