Coyote vs. Wolf

Coyote vs. Wolf

Coyote and wolf are canids, carnivores that belong to the family of dog-like mammals. There is only one species of coyote with 19 subspecies and two species of wolves: grey and red, with around 40 subspecies. Both coyote and wolf are mostly active during the night when they travel in search for food. Even though coyote and wolf have similar morphology and many common features, they can be distinguished by:

Geographic Distribution and Type of Habitat

Coyote can be found in deserts, forests, mountains, meadows and agricultural fields of North and Central America. Gray wolf originates from North America and Eurasia and it prefers areas that provide plenty of open space, such as tundra and woodlands. Red wolves can be found in the eastern parts of the USA, mostly in the forests, marshes and areas near the water.

Color of the Fur

Grey wolf has thick fur, made of blend of grey, yellowish-brown and black hairs. Coyote has grayish or reddish brown fur, that is usually slightly lighter in color. Thanks to color of its fur, coyote looks like a smaller version of red wolf.

Size and Shape of Ears and Snout

Both grey and red wolves have smaller, roundish ears and broad snout. Unlike them, coyote has larger, pointed ears and narrow snout.

Body Size, Paws and Tail

Both species of wolves are larger than coyote. They can reach 5 to 6 feet in length and 50 to 100 pounds of weight. Wolves also have wider paws (paw track is 4 x 5 inches wide). Unlike wolves, coyote has more streamlined, flexible body that can reach 3.5 to 4.5 feet in length and 25 to 45 pounds of weight. Coyote has thinner legs and 2 x 2.5 inches wide paws. It also has thick, bushy tail that is positioned low to the ground.


Wolves can reach the speed of 35 miles per hour when they chase their prey. Coyote is slightly slower. It can run at the speed of 25 to 30 miles per hour.


Wolves communicate via loud howls. Coyotes produce high-pitched barking sounds, made of mixture of rising and falling tones.


Coyote eats smaller animals such as rabbits, rodents and carrion. In areas near the human settlements, coyote often hunts poultry and small house pets. Wolves eat larger pray such as beavers, goats, sheep, deer, moose and bison.


Coyote is shy creature that usually lives and hunts in pairs. Wolves are territorial, more aggressive animals that hunt in packs. Although both coyotes and wolves avoid humans, coyotes can be more frequently found near the farms and agricultural fields.

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