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Difference Between Wolf and Jackal

wolfWolf vs Jackal

Forget about your little pooch for the moment, and think about their wild relatives. There are other kinds of canines besides your lap dogs, gun dogs, and retrievers. Two of the popular dogs of the wild are wolves and jackals.

The wolf and jackal belong to the same genus, but are totally different species.

Jackals are a small to medium-sized species of the Canine family. There are about four species that are called jackals. The Side-striped, Golden, Simien, and the Black-backed Jackals are these four species. These species are found in Asia, Africa and southeast Europe. Jackals and coyote s, which are sometimes called the American Jackal (this would make it five Jackal species), have a similar ecological niche.

The Side-striped and Black-backed Jackals are closely related, but they are different from the Golden and Simien Jackals, since the latter two belong to a group that includes the Gray wolf, domestic dogs, and the coyote.

Jackals are adapted for hunting small animals, such as certain mammals, birds, and reptiles, and have scavenging traits as well. They are good runners with fast movement and exceptional endurance. They can maintain speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for a long duration. They can outchase many animals with that ability. Jackals are crepuscular, as they are most active at dusk and dawn.

The social structure of Jackals consists of a monogamous pair, otherwise they are lone animals. Jackals only seem to assemble in packs occasionally, particularly, when they scavenge a carcass or are battling for food. Typically, the Jackal is more of a loner when hunting. When they are not alone, they usually hunt in pairs.

The wolf is considered to be the largest wild member of the canine family. The wolf is actually the Gray (Grey) Wolf, with the scientific name, Canis lupus. They are the closest relatives of the domestic dog, based on genetic drift and DNA sequencing studies. For that reason, the domestic dog was named scientifically as Canis lupus familiaris. In fact, wolves can interbreed with domestic dogs and produce healthy and fertile offsprings.

Wolves are known for their pack mentality and social structure. The pack normally consists of an alpha male, a female, and their offspring. Basically, packs are nuclear families, but may vary in number and membership, depending on many factors such as, habitat, personalities, and food supply. The typical pack size is about 8, but can be anything from 2 to 20 wolves or more. They are effective pack hunters since they communicate and coordinate very well via scent and vocalization. Pack status is reinforced during feeding.

Apart from the Gray Wolf, there are another five species that are termed as ‘wolf’ ‘“ the Red, Himalayan, Indian, Eastern, and Ethiopian wolves. Yet, only the Gray Wolves are referred to as ‘wolves’.


1. Jackals are a small to medium-sized canine species, while wolves are considered to be the largest canines.

2. Wolves can easily interbreed with domestic dogs, since dogs are the subspecies of wolves, while jackal-dog hybrids are not as easily accomplished.

3. Jackals normally live alone, or in monogamous pairs, while wolves are definitely pack animals.

4. Wolves typically hunt and feed in packs, while jackals are commonly lone hunters, or hunt in pairs; they may only form packs when trying to scavenge or battle for food.

5. Jackals are crepuscular (most active during dusk and dawn). Wolves hunt at any time of day.

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