Misfit Animals is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Learn More.

Can You Ride a Wolf & Why Not?

No, you cannot ride a wolf. Wolves aren’t built for riding and don’t make for good riding animals.

They’re a popular animal, often portrayed as steeds or mounts in fantasy movies or games, but the fact of the matter is, they don’t make for very good riding animals.

All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts) x
All Wolfpack Ranks (Wolf Facts)

Riding animals need to be strong enough to carry the weight of another person for long periods of time, and wolves are too short and not strong enough. 

Other animals can carry people with relative ease, such as horses, but wolves generally cannot provide this service.

Can a Human Ride a Wolf?

No, humans can’t ride wolves. Wolves are not built for riding, as they’re too short, too weak, and have evolved for a different purpose.

While the wolf is a ferocious predator, they’re not as strong as most other predators of their size. Wolves are also generally smaller than people think, only weighing 80-175 pounds.

Some wolves can weigh up to 200 pounds.

Wolves also see humans as enemies and avoid us whenever possible. Whenever wolves see humans their first instinct is to run away instead of getting mounted.

If you were to come across a tame wolf, either because it was raised by humans, or due to some miracle, it would most likely collapse under the weight of a human adult after a short while.

man stroking wolf

Is Riding a Wolf Realistic?

No, it’s not realistic for humans to ride wolves. They are not riding animals. They’re too short and their bodies aren’t built for riding like horses or donkeys. 

Wolves are predators. They eat meat and hunt for food. They’re very dangerous, especially when they’re with their pack. Hence, it would be incredibly dangerous to ride one.

Even though wolves may look majestic, that’s no reason to attempt riding one.

Why Can’t You Ride a Wolf?

There are several reasons why you can’t ride a wolf: they’re not built for riding, they’re too short for humans to ride, they are not strong enough to carry an adult human, and they see humans as enemies. 

The natural evolution of wolves is telling us that wolves don’t make for good riding animals.

A good riding animal consists of four things: temperament, strength, stamina, diet. They should be calm, they should be strong enough to carry an adult man, they should have the stamina for long rides, and they should be herbivores, meaning they don’t eat meat.

Wolves don’t fit this description. While they have incredible stamina, they don’t fulfill the other criteria.

red-wolf-snarling

Wolves Are Not Strong Enough

Wolves may look like they’re strong, but they’re not as strong as you may think. 

Wolves can generally carry 10-30% of their own body weight, meaning, a large wolf of 200 pounds could only carry a small child of 60 pounds.

A good riding animal needs to be able to carry its rider for long periods of time. Wolves can’t fulfill that criterion.

Wolves are simply not built to carry humans for long distances, their muscles aren’t strong enough or large enough.

Wolves Aren’t Tall Enough

Wolves are short, usually no larger than 33 inches tall (85 cm). That’s not nearly tall enough for most people to be seated comfortably.

When riding an animal, you should be able to let your legs hang over the edge. Most people, if they were to mount a wolf, would be touching the ground. The average length of a human leg is between 30-34 inches, the same as the height of a wolf.

This is one of the reasons why horses, camels, and similar animals are better for riding. It’s more comfortable, both for the rider and the animal.

Wolf peeking through leaves in a forest

Wolves Haven’t Evolved for Riding

The majority of riding animals are long and tall. Wolves aren’t either of these things, they’re short & very muscularly built with a lot of power in their hind legs. 

This is because wolves evolved for hunting, and not for riding, as opposed to horses.

Wolves also don’t like to be forced to do something. If you wanted to ride a wolf, you’d most likely have to try to force your way onto it, yet it would simply throw you off.

In other words, wolves don’t have the necessary mental or physical adaptations for riding.

Wolves See Humans as Enemies

Wolves see humans as their enemies. Through hundreds, and thousands, of years, humans have hunted wolves. We’ve used their fur coat for warmth, and their meat for food.

As time went on, wolves learned to keep away from humans. Hence, they won’t let you close.

Related: Wolves natural enemies

aggressive wolf barking

Have Humans Ever Ridden Wolves?

No, humans have used wolves for riding, as they’re too short, weak, full of temper, and haven’t evolved into the role of riding animal.

This doesn’t mean humans haven’t used wolves throughout time.

Some studies suggest that wolves and humans worked together, a long time ago. They helped each other kill mammoths and other larger animals.

But when the mammoths went extinct (3,900 years ago), there was no use for this alliance anymore. Humans most likely started to kill wolves, and vice versa.

Somewhere along the way, humans started domesticating wolves, turning them into what we know as dogs today. The first signs of domestication were around 14,000 to 29,000 years ago. [1]

Wolves Compared to Horses

Trait Wolf Horse
Height 30-33 inches 60-75 inches
Weight 80-175 lbs 800-1000 lbs
Diet Carnivore Herbivore
Temper Aggressive/Protective Calm

Wolves and horses are very different animals, and hence they’re good at different things.

Where wolves are only 30-33 inches tall, horses are typically between 60-75 inches but can get much bigger. Horses also weigh more, reaching up to 1,000 lbs, whereas wolves only reach 175 typically.

Applying the 20% rule in regards to carrying weight, horses can easily carry up to 160 pounds, while wolves can only carry 35 pounds.

As you can see, horses make for much better riding animals than wolves.

horse riding

Could You Ride a Horse-Sized Wolf?

Technically, you would be able to ride a horse-sized wolf. They’d be large and strong enough to carry you. There are still other problems though.

Wolves aren’t herbivores, as horses are. They’re carnivores, meaning they eat meat. A horse-sized wolf would need a lot of meat and would be extremely dangerous.

They’re also very protective, and aggressive, animals, meaning they still wouldn’t like to be mounted.

Hence, a horse-sized wolf still wouldn’t make for as good a riding animal as a regular horse.

Related: Wolf size comparison

What Makes a Good Riding Animal?

A good riding animal has four traits:

  • Strength
  • Size
  • Low temperament
  • Herbivore

If an animal can fulfill those four traits, it’d be able to ride. Both horses, donkeys, and camels have these characteristics. They all have the strength to carry humans, they’re big enough to where our legs aren’t touching the ground, they don’t have a temper, and they eat plants.

men-riding-through-the-desert

Conclusion

Humans can’t ride wolves. They’re neither built for riding nor do they have the mental or physical adaptations for it. A wolf’s body is too small and too weak to carry an adult human.

Besides the physical aspects, wolves aren’t mentally built for riding either. They haven’t evolved into the role of a riding animal. It won’t feel natural to them. Wolves are hunters.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.