Wolf pups are born in late winter and early spring. Pups weighs about a pound at birth and grow rapidly, gaining about three pounds per week for the first three months. Pups reach nearly full size in time to run with the pack as winter approaches. Young wolves are naturally curious, bold, and aggressive, which is important as they start to explore their world and form relationships within the pack. Puppies develop and maintain their own “pup hierarchy,” and their ranks are established early. Although adult wolves compete with one another while feeding, they allow pups to eat without confrontation until they reach adolescence. From then on, they must compete as well, eventually finding their place in the adult pack hierarchy.
Neonatal Period: Birth to Eyes Open (12 to 14 days) and Period of Maximal Growth BIRTH Have dark fur, rounded heads and are unable to regulate their own body temperature Blind with closed eyes, deaf with small ears, and a "pugged" nose with little if any sense of smell but a good sense of taste and touch Limited to a slow crawl, mainly with front legs but have a good sense of balance Are limited to sucking and licking; can whine and yelp Will feed four or five times a day for periods of three to five minutes Average females gain 2.6 lbs and males 3.3 lbs per week for the next 14 weeks
Transitional Period: Eye Opening to 20-24 Days 2 WEEKS Eyes open and are blue at 11-15 days but their eyesight is not fully developed and pups cannot perceive forms until weeks later Milk incisors present at 15 days; can eat small pieces of regurgitated meat Begin to stand and walk; vocalizations include growls, whimpering and squeaks, first high-pitched attempts at howling Weight: 3.5 lbs Socialization Period: 20-24 Days to 77 Days 3 WEEKS Begin appearing outside of the den and playing near the entrance Ears begin to raise around 27 days and hearing improves significantly Around 31 days the ears are erect but with tips still flopping Canines and premolar teeth present 4 WEEKS Growth of adult hair around nose and eyes Disproportionately large feet and head Short, high-pitched howls are gaining strength Mother may go off for hours on end to hunt Dominance and play fighting begin 5 WEEKS Gradual process of weaning begins Can follow adults up to a mile away from the den Juvenile Period: 12 Weeks to Sexual Maturity (1 - 3 years) 8 - 16 WEEKS At 8 to 10 weeks: Adults abandon den and move pups to a rendezvous site Weaning complete, pups feed on food provided by adults Adult guard hair becomes apparent on body
At 8 to 16 Weeks: Eyes gradually change from blue to yellow-gold 12 WEEKS Pups begin to follow adults on hunting trips for a short while and return to the den by themselves Weight: 22-30 lbs Period of Rapid Growth: 14 - 27 Weeks 14 - 27 WEEKS Pups will gain approximately 1.3 lbs. per week over the next three months Weight: 28-70 lbs 4 - 6 MONTHS Milk teeth replaced Winter fur becomes apparent and pup appearance is nearly indistinguishable from adults Pups begin to accompany adults on hunts Period of Slow Growth: 27 - 51 Weeks 7 - 8 MONTHS Female pups will gain approximately .07 lbs. per week and male pups will gain approximately .4 lbs. per week Pups begin to travel with pack Begin actively hunting 1 YEAR Epiphyseal cartilage closes off signaling the end of skeletal growth Pups status in the pack may start to take shape with pups displaying either more dominant or submissive behaviors Weight: 60-100 lbs Sexual Maturity: 1 to 3 Years 1 - 3 Years Hormonal changes signal sexual maturity May choose to disperse from pack Weight: 60-100+ lbs