Do Wolves Pant?

Wolves will cool themselves down by panting, which they do by sticking out their tongues and breathing quickly and heavily in order to reduce the temperatures of their body.

Just like dogs, wolves will pant when they are tired or when it’s really warm outside. It’s their natural way of exchanging heat and cooling themselves down and could be compared to when we humans sweat.

do wolves pant

Wolves also have longer snouts and tongues, which makes them even more efficient at panting and cooling down. It’s their mechanism for staying cool during the summer but also when they are tired from chasing down prey or running. Just like most warm-blooded animals, this is their way of cooling down.

Let’s take a closer look at why wolves pant and other details about this behavior.

Why Do Wolves Pant?

Wolves pant to cool down and lower their heart rate to normal levels. Panting is their mechanism to cool down after a long run or when it gets hot outside, and it’s very effective when the temperatures get higher outside.

When they pant, they stick their tongues out, allowing the heat and moisture to escape from their tongues and mouths. And once the warm air escapes from their tongues, they cool down and take in colder air that they extract from the atmosphere.

So when it gets really hot, you might see a wolf panting, although that’s highly unlikely.

Wolves prefer to hide in cooler spots and shades during the summer when it gets hot outside. This way, they don’t have to expend energy needlessly in order to cool down, and they will only use their energy when they have to find food for themselves and their packs. They’ll resort to movement at dawn and during the night instead.

All canid species pant and hang their tongues out of their mouths when it’s hot. And just like your dog, a wolf will lie down and hang its tongue when it gets too hot, and it will always look to hide in the shade.

An interesting fact here to mention is that a wolf’s snout is longer than a dog’s and its tongue is also larger, which means it’s more effective for cooling down. Because the surface of the tongue is bigger, more heat is able to evaporate and escape from the wolf’s body, and wolves are able to cool down faster than dogs.

Read More: Do Wolves Purr?

Can Wolves Sweat?

Wolves can’t sweat because they don’t have sweat glands, so they have to use other mechanisms to cool down.

As already mentioned, almost all warm-blooded animals need to find a way to cool down when it’s warm. And for wolves, that is done by letting the heat escape from their tongues and mouths when it’s warm.

If you take a closer look under their skin, you’ll find that they don’t have the same mechanisms as humans. Namely, they don’t have sweat glands, which are responsible for sweating in humans.

Instead of sweating, wolves and other canids release the fluids from their bodies by sticking their tongues out and letting the water evaporate from their tongues. They will use their noses to pant at the same time to be even more effective in this heat exchange.

Read More: Do Wolves Cry?

When Do Wolves Pant?

Wolves will pant when:

  • It is hot outside 
  • They exert physical force and they need to reduce their heart rate (such as after a chase)
  • When they need to cool down

In essence, panting is their main mechanism for exchanging fluids and letting out the fluids that they don’t need by evaporation, as well as the heat. And because they have larger tongues, this heat exchange is far more efficient than it is with dogs, so a wolf’s panting is slower and shorter.

In addition, the inner shape and the structure of the muzzle is designed in such a way that it acts as an internal heat regulator. It will, essentially, tell the body when it needs to cool down and when it needs to start panting.

So it’s typical to see a wolf panting if you might be able to come across a wolf during a hot, summer day – although that’s highly unlikely to happen. They’ll be lying somewhere cool and waiting for the night to come as they look to hunt.

It’s after the hunts that their panting is also common. When they chase their prey, they might have to go through longer chases, which might tire them down. And just like your dog after a long walk or run, a wolf will lie down first and pant in order to cool down and lower its heart rate.

Read More: Do Wolves have Webbed Feet?

Do All Canids Pant?

All canid species, including dogs, coyotes, and wolves, will pant when they need to cool down and when they’re tired.

In fact, this is one of the traits that we usually connect to canids and define these species. It’s not usual to see other species pant, although some non-canid species will use other mechanisms to cool down, such as sweating.

Wolves are the most effective canid species at panting, which is because they have longer snouts and larger tongues. On the other hand, coyotes and dogs need a longer time to cool down, so they will need to pant for longer in order to cool down and return their heart rates to normal after running.

Dogs and coyotes also don’t have sweat glands, so they will use panting as the main mechanism to cool down.

Conclusion

You don’t normally see a wolf panting, so many people wonder whether they pant at all or not.

The truth is that they do, although they will prefer to keep this activity brief and hidden. But when it gets really warm during the summer, they will retreat to a shade and cool themselves down, so they don’t have to pant excessively and needlessly use energy.