Wolf Pup Physical & Social Development

Wolves live in diverse and changing environments. Preparation and care of pups is fairly consistent around the world as is pup development. The following timeline provides information on the development of various physical and behavioral tools that wolves have for survival.



Neonatal Period: Birth to Eyes Open (12 to 14 days) and Period of Maximal Growth

  • 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
Two Weeks

Two Weeks

Transitional Period: Eye Opening to 20-24 Days

  • 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
Three Weeks

Three Weeks

Socialization Period: 20-24 Days to 77 Days

  • 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
Four Weeks

Four 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
Five Weeks

Five Weeks

  • Gradual process of weaning begins
  • Can follow adults up to a mile away from the den
8 - 16 Weeks

8 – 16 Weeks

Juvenile Period: 12 Weeks to Sexual Maturity (1 – 3 years)

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

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
14 - 17 Weeks

14 – 27 Weeks

Period of Rapid Growth: 14 – 27 Weeks

  • Pups will gain approximately 1.3 lbs. per week over the next three months
  • Weight: 28-70 lbs
4 - 6 Weeks

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
7 - 8 Months

7 – 8 Months

Period of Slow Growth: 27 – 51 Weeks

  • 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
One Year

One 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
1 - 3 Years

1 – 3 Years

Sexual Maturity: 1 to 3 Years

  • Hormonal changes signal sexual maturity
  • May choose to disperse from pack
  • Weight: 60-100+ lbs