Wolves are too small and not strong enough to ride. In addition, they don’t have the best character for riding and even if you tame a wolf or raise it in captivity, you still wouldn’t be able to ride it.
Even though you might have seen wolves being ridden in fantasy movies like Lord of the Rings, wolves cannot and are not ridden in real life.
Wolves weigh somewhere between 79 and 85 lbs (36-38.5 kg) and are only around 33 inches tall (85 cm) high at shoulder height, which means they’re not big and strong enough to carry the weight of a human.
Can You Ride a Wolf?
No, you cannot ride a wolf.
Wolves are popular creatures and are often depicted as steed in fantasy movies. Lord of the Rings is the most notable fantasy movie to include wolves as steed. Orcs use wolves to ride around and move into battles.
Other fantasy pieces of content such as video games (Assassin’s Creed Valhalla) also depict wolves as animals that can be ridden.
In a way, it makes sense to see wolves in this way in fantasy movies – they’re intimidating and scary for most people, which adds to the theme of the movie.
However, in real life, riding a wolf would be hard – if not impossible.
There are a few reasons as to why you cannot ride them.
Why Can’t you Ride a Wolf?
1. Wolves are Too Short
One of the first reasons why wolves are not the best animals to use as steed is their height – they’re not tall enough for humans.
Wolves are around 30 – 33 inches tall at shoulder height (up to 85 cm), which is not nearly tall enough for humans to ride comfortably.
And the average human leg length is also between 30 and 34 inches, which means that if you were to attempt to ride a wolf, your feet wouldn’t even be elevated off the ground.
The height limitation is one of the main reasons why humans prefer to ride larger animals like horses, donkeys, or camels, for instance. It provides them with an elevated ground which would make the ride comfortable and not stressful for the animal.
2. We’re Too Heavy for Wolves
Another reason as to why you can’t ride a wolf also has to do with our physical proportions (and the proportions of the wolf) – we’re too heavy for the wolf to ride it. Or if we put it in another way, wolves are not strong enough to ride us.
The average wolf weight will rarely even match the average human weight. It floats somewhere between 80 and 85 lbs, while the heaviest wolves weigh around 175 lbs, which is still not as much as the average human weight in North America – around 178 lbs.
The wolf just doesn’t have enough weight and strength to carry humans around.
If we compare wolves to other animals that humans ride, the size and the weight are two of the most common and most notable differences.
A horse, on average, would weigh between 900 and 2000 lbs, which is ample for carrying human weight around. Even a donkey weighs more than a wolf – between 400 and 500 lbs.
If you were to attempt to ride a wolf, you would seriously risk injuries in its spine and back. And the wolf would not be able to carry around that much weight for too long before its bones and muscles would give up.
3. Wolves Aren’t Riding Animals
You can’t force a wolf to ride it.
Wolves have a strong and independent character. They don’t want to be forced into doing things and are certainly not as susceptible to commands are dogs. Even in captivity, wolves will retain their strong character and will often seek to be alone, while also choosing not to follow other animals.
And more importantly, they’ve never been riding animals throughout their evolution, so they don’t have the necessary physical and mental adaptations as horses or donkeys do.
For wolves that are in captivity, attempting to ride it would not mean that it would attack you but attempting to ride a wild wolf or even a tamed wolf would be a near-impossible task.
Have Humans Ever Ridden Wolves?
No, humans have never used wolves as riding animals for the reasons we’ve stated above.
For thousands of years, humans and wolves coexisted in the same habitats, although they never viewed each other as direct enemies. In fact, there is evidence that humans and wolves collaborated in hunts to kill larger animals like mammoths.
About 10.000 years ago, when mammoths became extinct, the relationship between humans and wolves started to shift. They were both seen as natural predators in the wild, and they often went after the same types of food.
This meant that humans started to view wolves as enemies and in many areas of the world, started killing and defending themselves against wolf attacks.
In turn, this meant that wolves had to retreat to more remote areas of the world and would become more isolated from humans.
Humans also started to tame some wolves, which meant that dogs started becoming more and more prevalent.
However, many wolves were still kept in the wild and it’s highly unlikely that humans attempted to ride wolves or even the tamed dogs.
Given the shared history and the relationship between humans and wolves throughout history, it’s highly unlikely if not impossible that humans ever used wolves as riding animals.
Wolves are not riding animals and were never used in that way, which means they don’t have the necessary evolutionary adaptations to become that.
They’re not strong enough and are also too small to be able to carry human weight. Instead, humans started using other animals to ride – most notably, horses, which happened around 5500 years ago.
Wolves, however, remained wild animals and some wolves were domesticated, which meant that dog breeds started to become more and more prevalent – but humans quickly learned that even dogs cannot be used for riding.