Scientific classification

The grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a mammal of the order Carnivora and the dog family Canidae. Besides the grey wolf there are two more free-living types of wolf known - the red wolf (C. rufus) and the Abyssinian wolf (C. simensis). The red wolf used to inhabit the southeast part of the USA, but his natural populations were most likely exterminated by the 1980s. The Abyssinian wolf considered the jackal until recently, numbers about 550 specimens at the moment, mostly inhabiting the Bale National Park in the mountainous regions of the Southeast Ethiopia (Route and Aylsworth, 1999).

All dog breeds were created by domesticating wolves, in a process that started some 100,000 years ago, although some mixing with the wolf was recorded occasionally too (Vila and assoc., 1997) So nowadays the dog (C. lupus familiaris) and the wolf are considered to be the same species. The genus Canis includes also the coyote and two types of jackal who can all be crossbred.