Canis lupus has 39 subspecies currently described, including two subspecies of domestic dog, Canis lupus dingo and Canis lupus familiaris, and many subspecies of wolf throughout the Northern hemisphere. The nominate subspecies is Canis lupus lupus.
Canis lupus is assessed as Least Concern by the IUCN, as its relatively widespread range and stable population trend mean that the species, at global level, does not meet, or nearly meet, any of the criteria for the threatened categories.
Biological taxonomy is not fixed, and placement of taxa is reviewed as a result of new research. The current categorization of subspecies of Canis lupus is shown below. Also included are synonyms, which are now discarded duplicate or incorrect namings. Common names are given but may vary, as they have no set meaning.
Wolves show a great deal of dimorphism geographically, though they can interbreed. The Zoological Gardens of London for example once successfully managed to mate a male European wolf to an Indian female, resulting in a cub bearing an almost exact likeness to its sire.
European wolves tend to have coarse fur with less soft wool intermixed than American wolves. Their heads are narrower, their ears longer, higher placed and somewhat closer to each other. Their loins are more slender, their legs longer, their feet narrower, and their tails more thinly clothed with fur. Pelt colour in European wolves ranges from white, cream, red, grey and black, sometimes with all colours combined. Wolves in central Europe tend to be more richly coloured than those in Northern Europe. Eastern European wolves tend to be shorter and more heavily built than Northern Russian ones.
North American wolves are generally the same size as European wolves, but have shorter legs, larger, rounder heads, broader, more obtuse muzzles, and a sensible depression at the union of nose and forehead, which is more arched and broad. Their ears are shorter and have a more conical form. They typically lack the black mark on the forelegs, as is the case in European races. They have long and comparatively fine fur, mixed with a shorter wooly hair, and are more robust. Fur colour in American wolves ranges from white, black, red, yellow, brown, gray, and grizzled skins, and others representing every shade between, although usually each locality has its prevailing tint. There are pronounced differences in North American wolves of different localities; wolves from Texas and New Mexico are comparatively slim animals with small teeth. Mexican wolves in particular resemble some European wolves in stature, though their heads are usually broader, their necks thicker, their ears longer and their tails shorter. Wolves of the central and northern chains of the Rocky Mountains and coastal ranges are more formidable animals than the more southern plains wolves, and resemble Russian and Scandinavian wolves in size and proportions.
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