What are Male Wolves Called?

Male wolves have different names based on their status in the wolf hierarchy. Leading wolves are called alpha males, while other male wolves in the pack are called beta males or omega males, depending on their position in wolf society.

what are male wolves called

In terms of breeding, a wolf is also sometimes called a “sire”, while the female is called a “bitch”.

In recent studies about male wolves, the term “alpha male” was derived from the fight between wolves for dominance in captivity.

So the social structure and the notion of the alpha male is much more easily observed in captivity than it is in the wild, where all wolves contribute to the survival of the pack as best as possible.

What Are Male Wolves Called?

Male wolves have different names:

Male Wolf NameDescription
Male WolfThe most common name we use, because it’s very universal and it doesn’t rely on the structure of the pack.
Alpha Male (Alpha Wolf)The concept of the alpha wolf is very widely spread in today’s society. The traits of the alpha male are often idealized and put on a pedestal. The alpha male is believed to be the leader of the pack and will show dominant traits and features, which is why the role of the alpha male is often connected to human society, too.
Beta MaleThe beta male is inferior to the alpha male but still above omega males. But the concept of beta males is also understood in today’s society – in wolf hierarchy, the term beta wolf is not derogatory and is used for all other males of the pack that are not the alpha male.
Omega MaleThe omega male is the lowest member of wolf society and is often brushed aside from the structure of the pack. But again, the concept of the omega male is much more clearly defined in captivity than it is in the wild, because wolves need to show off their status in captivity more than in the wild.
SireThis phrase is a general term used by animals in the Canis genus for a male in breeding situations.

In the wild, wolves will show status by leading hunts and by leading the packs.

These tasks are usually handled by older and more experienced members of the pack – most commonly, by adults and by parents of the young pups.

That’s why these older members are often perceived to be the alpha male of the pack.

However, the notion of the alpha male, beta male, and omega male is not as clearly defined in nature as it is in captivity. 

In nature, all wolves will try to help the pack to survive, and the societal roles won’t matter as much to pack members. Unity is far more important because wolves have to work as a unit to survive.

Conversely, in captivity, wolves don’t have this need for survival and thus wolves will need to show dominance in other ways. Alpha males will dominate beta and omega wolves, which will be at the bottom of the structure.

Alpha vs Beta vs Omega Wolf

Wolf males play important roles in wolf society. Alpha wolves are meant to lead the wolf pack, although in the wild, the differences between alpha and beta males are not as clearly defined as in captivity.

The name alpha male is used for males that lead packs in hunts and on the road. The alpha male is often the oldest member of the pack still capable of physically leading the pack, but that’s not always the case.

The alpha has the most prestige in the pack and is the only wolf in the pack that is allowed to breed with the alpha female of the pack.

Beta males of the pack are slightly lower in the wolf structure as compared to alpha males. However, they are not as low as omega wolves.

Beta males are often the wolves that are right below the alpha male. They are younger than alphas and don’t have as strong responsibilities as the alpha.

Omega wolves are most commonly observed in captivity and not as often in nature. They are placed the lowest in wolf hierarchy and will rarely escape the omega status.

Breeding Males are Called a “Sire”

Another name that some male wolves have is sire

This name is derived from centuries ago when in British society, young males that were courting their female lovers were also called sires.

You’ll see this word used rarely, and particularly among hunters and wolf enthusiasts. The breeding male will try to court the “bitch”, which is another name for a breeding female. The two will breed and create wolf pups. 

Often, the only breeding wolf of the pack is the alpha male, or the only adult male of the pack.

This is especially the case when the wolf pack consists of mainly younger wolves and those who are not yet sexually mature. The breeding male will have the option to breed with his alpha male, or go to other wolf packs to find mates.

What Are Young Wolf Males Called?

A young wolf is called a wolf pup. This name is used for wolves that are still not sexually active and still not capable of fending for themselves.

Wolf pups will be carefully watched by other members of the pack, especially the older members of the pack. These include both alpha and beta males, while elderly wolves will teach young wolves hunting strategies that can be used on the field.

Young pups are the most vulnerable members of the wolf society, especially until the age of 1 year. That’s why they will be monitored closely initially by their mothers, and later, by alpha males and other senior members of the pack.

Final Thoughts

The term “alpha male” is a common derivative from wolf pack structure that is often used in human society, too. 

However, the notion of the alpha male is often misleading. The wolf alpha male is not the leader of the pack because of its strength or physical traits, but because of its seniority status and experience.