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How Long Do Wolves Live? (Wolf Life Span)

Wolves can live for 10-14 years in the wild but can get as old as 20 years in captivity. The average lifespan of a wild wolf is about 8-9 years.

The lifespan of wolves depends very much on their living conditions.

Wild wolves live shorter lives than those in captivity. Wolves in captivity are taken care of by humans, and hence have access to better conditions.

There are also plenty of external factors that can cut a wolf’s life short in the wild.

In this article, we’ll discuss the lifespan of wolves, how long wolves live depending on species, and much more.

Average Lifespan of Wolves

The average lifespan of wolves is about 7-8 years, as their lives can often be cut short by external factors.

While wolves can live up to turn 14 years old in the wild, they most often don’t Many factors come into play on the topic of life expectancy.

Some of the most commonly seen external events that cut wolves’ lives short are:

  • Predators
  • Large prey (moose can be extremely dangerous to hunt)
  • Food availability
  • Illness

When wolves hunt, they may be injured. While they’re most often successful in taking down large prey, moose (and similar large ungulates) can defend themselves rather well with their large antlers.

In general wolves have a longer life span than most other wild members of the canine family. Coyotes live for an average of 3 years in the wild. Foxes typically live for 3-4 years.

pack of wolves

How Long Do Wolves Live In Captivity?

Wolves in captivity live longer lives than those in the wild. These can typically live for 16 years, but are sometimes seen reaching 20.

There are many reasons why wolves live longer in captivity:

  1. They’re fed on a daily basis, and hence don’t have to worry about food shortages.
  2. They’re taken care of if they’re sick or injured.
  3. They aren’t in danger of being killed by other predators.

Even if they typically live longer, it doesn’t mean that they always do. Some wolves aren’t fit for living in captivity, especially if the space they’re living in isn’t designed for wolves.

Wolves need lots of space, both to roam and hunt. Some wolves may get sick if they don’t have the required criteria to thrive.

wolves playing with their owner

How Long Do Wolves Live as Pets?

Wolves, if provided with the necessary conditions, can live long lives as pets, typically around 14-16 years.

However, wolves don’t make good pets. There are several reasons why that is:

  • They need a lot of space.
  • Most veteranarians don’t treat wolves.
  • Their diet is specific and they eat a lot.
  • They’re dangerous wild animals, and may return to their natural instincts.

Wolves aren’t domestic animals. They may be tamed if raised by humans from an early age, but they still won’t be considered domestic.

The difference between tame and domestic is in their genes. Domestic dogs have been bred to function as pets, and are genetically conditioned to do so. Wolves are not.

Even if you’ve tamed a wolf, they will be wild by nature. Hence, they’re still dangerous, even if you’ve formed a bond with them.

Related: Can you tame a wolf?


How Do Wolves Usually Die?

Wolves can die from many different things, such as old age, disease, starvation, or being killed by other animals. 

In the wild, many wolves die from illness or from fighting with prey or other predators. In captivity, wolves often die from old age or incurable illness.

Related: What are wolves’ enemies?

Lifespan Depending on Species

While different species of wolves do have somewhat similar lifespans, there are a few differences amongst them. You can get an overview of how long different wolf species live here.

SpeciesMaximum LifespanAverage Lifespan
Gray Wolf14-16 years8 years
Dire Wolf15-20 yearsExtinct
Eurasian Wolf10-16 years8 years
Red Wolf13-14 years6-7 years
Arctic Wolf14-16 years7 years
Timber Wolf (Eastern Wolf)14-15 years8-10 years

How Long Do Gray Wolves Live?

Gray wolves have a life expectancy of about eight years in the wild. This varies depending on various factors such as other predators, food availability, illness, etc. 

In captivity, they typically live for 16-18 years, while most wild gray wolves don’t make it past 14 in the wild.

The longest recorded age for a gray wolf was 20.6 years.

Gray Wolves

How Long Do Dire Wolves Live?

Dire wolves, which are extinct now, were once the most common type of wolf in North America. Dire wolves lived in packs and hunted together to bring down prey much larger than themselves. 

They went extinct about 11,000 years ago, but if they were still around today, it’s believed that their average lifespan would be about 15-20 years.

How Long Do Eurasian Wolves Live?

The average lifespan of Eurasian wolves in the wild is about 8 years, but they can live between 10-14 years if they don’t get sick or are otherwise killed.

They have been known to live up to 16 years old in captivity. 

Eurasian Wolves

How Long Do Red Wolves Live?

Red wolves are a critically endangered species of wolf that primarily lives in the southeastern United States. [2] 

They were once considered almost extinct in the wild, but thanks to successful conservation efforts, they have been reintroduced into several states. 

Red wolves typically live 6-7 years in the wild, but can sometimes live up to 14 years. In captivity, they typically live to turn 14-16 years old.

couple of wolves in the wild

How Long Do Arctic Wolves Live?

In captivity, Arctic wolves can reach 17 years old. In the wild, they can live up to 14 years. The average lifespan is much lower, around 7 years.

Arctic wolves inhabit colder climates. These can get very harsh, as many prey animals leave when the temperatures drop to extreme levels. If no food is available, or if the weather is too extreme, weaker wolves may die prematurely.

They also share habitats with other fierce predators, such as the polar bear.

pack of wolves in the winter season

How Long Do Timber Wolves Live?

The average lifespan for a wild Timber Wolf is about 8-10 years, while they reach 16 years in captivity, much like the gray wolf.

Timberwolves are often found in taigas, prairies, forests, tundras, brushlands, grasslands, mountains, and deserts.

Timber Wolf

Where Do Wolves Live?

Wolves live in a variety of habitats around the world. They live primarily in remote wilderness areas, but can also be found in mountainous regions and even deserts.

They inhabit both United States, Canada, Eurasia, Africa.


Wolves can live for 10-14 years in the wild, while the average lifespan is closer to 7-8 years. In captivity, when receiving proper care, they can get as old as 20 years.

Wolves are known to be some of the longest-living members of the canine family. Their sharpened hunting skills and pack mentality help them take down large animals and keep each other protected.

The lifespan of wolves depends on a multitude of factors, such as their general health, the health of the pack, food availability, and the presence of other predators.

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.

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