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A picture of a black wolf taken on a road in Valley County, Idaho. Genetic research has shown that black-furred wolves owe their coloration...

A picture of a black wolf taken on a road in Valley County, Idaho. Genetic research has shown that black-furred wolves owe their coloration to a mutation the wolf gift pdf first arose in domestic dogs. Illustration of a “European black wolf” by Charles Hamilton Smith.


An illustration of an “American black wolf” by John James Audubon. An engraving of a “dusky wolf”, an animal once considered a separate species from northern black wolves. Skin of a black coloured wolf taken from the Mackenzie Valley. The function of the black pigment is largely unknown.

Genetic research from the Stanford University School of Medicine and the University of California, Los Angeles revealed that wolves with black pelts owe their distinctive coloration to a mutation which occurred in domestic dogs, and was carried to wolves through wolf-dog hybridization. Besides coat colour they are normal grey wolves. Linnaeus gave the black wolves of Europe the binomial name Canis lycaon, under the assumption that the species was distinct from grey and white coloured wolves.

Cuvier and other naturalists largely followed his example. Black wolves were considered rare in France, but common in Southern Europe at the time, with black wolf populations south to the Pyrenees apparently outnumbering other color morphs.

Black wolves were also reported in Siberia as the Vekvoturian Mountain-wolf. Colonel Smith erroneously believed that the so-called “Rossomak” of the Lenas in Siberia was of the same variety.

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