Wolves and jackals both belong to Genus Canis. A lot of people do not really know the difference between these two animals and use their names in the same breath. While both these animals belong to the same genus, they are very distinguishable.
- Wolves are larger and heavier than jackals, with wolves averaging 66-180 pounds and jackals ranging from 15-31 pounds.
- Wolves have a more extensive global distribution, inhabiting North America, Europe, and Asia, while jackals are primarily found in Africa, Southeast Europe, and South Asia.
- Wolves display stronger pack behavior, coordinating complex hunting strategies, whereas jackals exhibit more opportunistic and solitary behaviors.
Wolf vs Jackal
The difference between a wolf and a jackal is that wolves are social animals, they live and hunt in packs, while jackals are loners and hunt alone. They can, however, form pairs. There are two major species of wolves, Canis Simensis and Canis Lupus while jackals can be divided into three major species, Pullela Mesomelas, Lupulella Adustus, and Canis Aureus.
Wolves are the largest members of the Canidae family and are large-sized animals. Wolves are mainly carnivorous, however, they eat plants only when needed or in case they are ill.
They can be seen hunting throughout the day. Wolves are found in most parts of the world, including the extremely cold tundras.
Jackals, on the other hand, also belong to the Canidae family, but they are medium-sized animals. They are opportunist omnivores, i.e. they try to eat meat as much as possible but are also very comfortable with plants.
They can also scavenge if need be. Jackals can be seen hunting at dawn and dusk. They are found in Africa and Asia.
|Size||Large Sized||Medium Sized|
|Types Species||Wolves can be divided into two major species||Jackals can be divided into three major species|
|Size of Packs||In most cases, the size of a pack ranges between four to nine.||Jackals are loners. They live and hunt alone. However, they can also form pairs|
|International Union for Conservation of Nature List||Least Concern||Least Concern|
|Structure of a pack||Wolf packs follow a strict hierarchy||There is no hierarchical structure in Jackal|
|Mating||Wolves are monogamous, mating for life||Jackals are monogamous|
|Gestation Period||62 to 75 days||60 to 63 days|
|Size of a litter||5 to 6 pups||3 to 8 pups|
|Speed||The average speed of a wolf is 55 kmph to 70 kmph||The average speed of a jackal is 20 kmph|
|Population||As of 2003, the wolf population is estimated to be 300,000||There isn’t much data on the jackal population, but it is estimated that there are about 97,000 to 117,000 jackals|
|Most populated in||Alaska, Canada, and Russia||Africa and Asia|
|Predators||Humans||Leopards, Hyenas and Eagles|
|Life Span||Up to 10 years||8 to 9 years in the wild|
|Weight||A male wolf’s weight ranges from 30 kg to 80 kg, while a female wolf’s weight ranges from 23 kg to 55kg.||Jackals’ weight ranges from 5.4 kg to 14 kg.|
What is a Wolf?
A wolf is a large-sized carnivorous animal that belongs to the Canidae family. Wolves are believed to be native to Eurasia and North America.
Today, over the years, we can find wolves on almost all continents. We can even find wolves in extremely cold conditions, these wolves are called polar wolves or arctic wolves.
The two major species that wolves can be divided into are Canis Simensis and Canis Lupus.
Canis Simensis is known as the Ethiopian Wolf, which is found in the mountains of Ethiopia, whereas Canis Lupus which is known as the Gray Wolf, is found in most parts of the world. There are a minimum of 40 subspecies within Canis Lupus.
Wolves have dense, fluffy winter fur, however, this fur is shed in autumn. They also are extremely social animals and live in packs. A wolf pack has an extremely strict hierarchy, with the alpha male sitting at the top.
The breeding rights are also exclusively reserved for the alpha male and female. They can also interbreed with domestic dogs, and one can see a hybrid between a dog and a wolf.
Wolves aren’t fussy eaters, they eat small or medium-sized animals. They can also eat plants and berries if need be. Also, cannibalism is not uncommon when there is an acute scarcity of food. Wolves can also hunt at any given time of day.
Wolves are most populated in Alaska, Canada, and Russia.
What is a Jackal?
Jackals, also like wolves, belong to the family of Canidae. Jackals can be divided into three species Lupulella Mesomomelas, Lupulella Adustus, and Canis aureus.
Lupulella Mesomomelas is known as a black-backed jackal, Lupulella Adustus is known as the side-stripped jackal, and Canis aureus is known as the Golden jackal.
Jackals do not live in packs, rather they are loners, or they form pairs. Jackals are also monogamous and mate for life. They have no hierarchical structure. Also, it is very difficult to see a jackal and a dog hybrid as they do not interbreed.
Jackals are not fussy eaters. They eat small animals and reptiles. They can also eat plants and scavenge on dead carcasses. You might even see a jackal scavenging through a trash bin.
The most populated areas with jackals are in Africa and Asia
Main Differences Between Wolf and Jackal
- Wolves are large-sized animals, whereas jackals are medium-sized.
- Wolves can be divided into two species, whereas jackals can be divided into three species.
- Wolves live in packs with a strict hierarchy, while jackals live alone or in pairs.
- As wolves are large-sized animals while jackals are medium-sized, wolves weigh much more than jackals.
- Wolves can interbreed with dogs, while jackals don’t.
- While wolves are active throughout the day, jackals are crepuscular, i.e. they are diurnal and nocturnal.
- While wolves are mostly carnivorous and will eat plants only when need be, jackals are opportunist omnivores. They can also scavenge for dead meat and can also search for food in trash bins.
- Jackals have a lot of predators within the jungle, like leopards and hyenas, while wolves are hunted only by humans.
- Wolves have a longer gestation period than jackals, and the litter size is almost the same.
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Piyush Yadav has spent the past 25 years working as a physicist in the local community. He is a physicist passionate about making science more accessible to our readers. He holds a BSc in Natural Sciences and Post Graduate Diploma in Environmental Science. You can read more about him on his bio page.