Old Wolves

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Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:01 pm


I was looking at photos on Monty Sloan's wolf photography website (wolfphotography.com) and saw that the older wolves like Seneca and Imbo (the leader of the Pillow Pack) have faded pelts, that is, their fur has gotten whiter over the years. It's kind of like how aging humans start to get gray or white hair.
But there's one thing I'm not sure about:
Can dark-furred/melanistic wolves have lighter markings (lighter brown to whitish cream) on their chin/throat/muzzle or chest even when they're younger?
Or do aging black wolves only have light markings as they get older?
I'm writing a story (more like a novel. o_o) about wolves and one of the characters is supposed to be dark brown (almost black), and I'm not sure if it would be realistic to give him a few splashes of light brown on his throat, lips, and chest, perhaps around his eye.
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Canidae » Wed Mar 10, 2010 9:14 pm

That pelt design doesn't sound too unrealistic to me...you want something like this?:


http://www.wolfhaven.org/our_wolves/sitka.php


That wolf is only about 3 years old, yet it's pelt consists of dark and lighter hues.
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Wed Mar 10, 2010 10:03 pm


Thanks Canidae, but I was talking about a black wolf lighter markings around his muzzle and on his chest.
The picture was helpful, though!


Kind of like the wolf in the background:
http://www.wolfphotography.com/merchant ... gory_Code=

Or like the black wolf here (not the faded one next to him):
http://www.wolfphotography.com/merchant ... gory_Code=

Or like this one:
http://www.wolfphotography.com/merchant ... gory_Code=

I think they might be starting to fade/age, but Monty Sloan (why does my mind say "Monty Python" whenever I type Monty Sloan? :P) says in the descriptions of the last two pictures that the dark wolves I'm using as a reference are young, so... yeahh.
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Kaya-WolfGirl » Thu Mar 11, 2010 2:38 pm

As far as I know, only black pelts turn grey with age.I think it would be fine to add those markings, some current ones in Yellowstone have little splashes on their chest in a different color than their base.You could also do an underfur color that shows in places if that is helpful.
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Untamed Grace » Tue Mar 16, 2010 3:46 pm

That sounds like a resonably realistic coat. If the colors aren't too far from eachother, like adding red to a white coat then you're safe. If you really aren't sure on something try to find pictures of real wolves with similar coats. It's as easy as finding an infomational wolf website and seeing what colors their coats can be. I wish I could tell you one but I'd have to look one up somewhere. >.<

Hope I helped a little.
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:15 pm

Thanks for the help, everyone!!
I've decided to darken his markings a little so that they're more of a tan/lighter brown color rather than buffy white, to keep it a little more realistic.
After reading your comments and looking up wolf coat colors godknowshowmany times, I'm pretty sure that black-furred wolves and agouti gray (typical gray wolf color) wolves lighten with age, starting with their muzzle and paws, perhaps after 4 years at the earliest.

Originally, all his fur was dark brown, but I decided to add some lighter areas, especially around his eyes (which are also brown -- is that realistic, to have brown eyes on a black/dark brown wolf?), to add interest.

I have one more question...
Is it realistic that two wolf packs would attack each other during a harsh famine when one pack chased a stray elk into the other's territory? (they're fighting over food and territory)
I mean, it's ok as long as they have a legitimate motive, right?

It's funny how I've been working on this for almost 3 years. o_o I'd post it on WolfQuest, but it's pretty long... and I want to try to get it published/edited first. xD
Thanks again for your help!!
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Sintact » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:49 pm

Wolves pack are really protective regarding their territory, if one of each wolf packs come too close, they will have a fight for sure. But wolves are not bloody at all, and they would prefer to save energy instead of getting a couple of deadly wounds.

When wolf packs are going to fight, generally they first start with some dominant poses as raising tails, snarling, sniffing each other, etc. If one of the pack doesn't backs off with that warning, or if the number of wolves in each pack is similar; they will fight.

Fights do not last long, as they just chase each other and bite here and there.

Oh, and yes, a brown eye is realistic in a wolf, independent of the fur pelt.

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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:56 pm

Thank you so much, Sintact!
This is a big help.

At first, I was thinking of having most of the protagonist's pack killed by their rivals, save for a few 7-month old pups and some of her adult siblings (around 2-3 years). But I guess that wouldn't be realistic, even if the other pack's leader is temperamental, impulsive, and slightly manic. I'll have to think of an alternative.
How about if the rivals win the freshly-killed elk and force the other pack away, and most of them (except for the aforementioned) die of starvation? That's better, isn't it?
Is it also ok if, realizing that the other pack is closer to the elk, the rival pack begins to encroach on/claim the other pack's turf?
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Sintact » Tue Mar 16, 2010 5:59 pm

That is a good idea change. But well, if there is really no food around, a wolf pack will kill and eat its weaker and older pack members; if needed. But since wolf's diet is really based in everything they can find, they will first search for other source of food, and then if they fail, they might kill and eat a pack member.

Even if a wolf is too impulsive or it did the wrong move; the fight will not be that hard.

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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Tue Mar 16, 2010 6:21 pm

Oooooooh, that's interesting. I can't thank you enough!!
It'll also help make the story a little longer... bwahaha.

back on topic...

About how old are wolves when their fur starts fading?
Is it really 4 years, because that seems a little young. (about 33 years in large dog breeds, according to Animal Planet. Is the dog years/human years equivalent around the same in wolf years?)
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by CLBaileyi » Thu Mar 18, 2010 1:33 pm

There is no set timeline for a coat color to start to fade or change. Usually, this doesn't happen until they are at least 3-4 years old, but again, some animals will retain their"darker color" longer than that...just like with humans-some get gray hair earlier than others.

Also, all subspecies will lighten in color intensity of their pelt (not just black phase).
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Thu Mar 18, 2010 3:03 pm

Wow, thanks for the help, CLBaileyi!!
Yeah, I noticed that when I was looking at Monty Sloan's wolf photos:
Older wolves like Chetan and Seneca were a buffy cream color with faint traces of their natural pelt color (agouti gray), as with Kiri, an old faded black wolf.
I like your signature, by the way. :P
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by pawnee » Fri Mar 19, 2010 7:45 pm

I know some black wolves have a white patch on their chest sometimes...but as far as I've seen all black wolves eventually fade a little. I guess it depends on their health too and condition....
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Isfe » Sat Mar 20, 2010 3:50 pm

Thanks, Pawnee!!
So it's kind of like premature gray hair in humans, right?
Also, are white/light-furred timber wolves born light-colored or are all "white" timber wolves old and used to have black/agouti gray pelts?
In other words, are the only light-colored timber wolves aging individuals?
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Re: Old Wolves

Post by Canidae » Sat Mar 20, 2010 5:38 pm

No, white wolves don't have origins as black wolves. When black wolves get older, their fur will fade, but it won't completely fade to white. It'll just be a grayish color. Wolves that have white fur are just white wolves. They get their white fur at a very, very young age (wolf pups are born a brownish color), and they'll keep it for the rest of their life.
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