Wolfes hunt prey of all sizes, from the tiny and agile rabbit to the huge bison. Whatever the prey size is, a meal is often the hard-won rewards of extensive travel and a chase.
Although they are not fast, Wolves can reach 36-38 miles an hour while pursuing prey. Wolves have a reputation for being extremely endurance. Wolves can travel at speeds of up to 5 miles per hour.
They are called “courageous predators” by wolves. This means that, unlike animals like lions and Tigers that usually kill what they catch, wolves chase their prey.
This means that wolves have to be amongst the most efficient terrestrial endurance athletes. Aqutaq’s sibling, Aqutaq ran at 42 miles an hours on radar. This isn’t much faster than a cheetah.
A seven-month old Aqutaq skis across the snow. Most gait studies of wolves are inaccurate. They don’t capture the true extension and flexion the spine. She actually looks more like an eagle’s body than a dog’s.
As you can see from the video, wolves can be extremely fast and can keep their top speed for quite some time. A wolf is capable of maintaining 99% for approximately 30 seconds.
Wolves can keep going for quite a while if they run at about 80% of their maximum speed. I rode a mountain bike along logging roads as a child with two of the wolves my father had raised. I was racing bikes to make a living, so I could cover 15-20 miles per hour in flat and rolling terrain. I was able to do several rides over 20 miles with both my dogs and their companions. They not only kept up, but also zig-zagged in the trees along the trail.
Above: Tahoe & Kharma, less than a decade old. They could easily keep up with me for longer than an hour on a mountain bike, even at this young age.
A wolf can literally travel all day on a lope. They’re so used to moving at a moderate speed over long distances that they can even eat snow and water on the run. They’re the only animal to be able to do this, as far as I know.
However, wolves are the only terrestrial animal that can travel so far in one day, except humans in warm conditions.
While a wolf might travel 40 miles in one day alone, he is also able to run for more than just that distance. A wolf can move fast and in short bursts. This allows him both to hunt small prey quickly like hares or large fast animals such as white-tail antelope and mountain goats.
The Wolf’s Speed
Long-distance hunting is what wolves are built for. They typically run at 5 miles per hour. This moderate speed allows them to travel many miles each day while looking for food. While he can speed up for short periods of time, he is unable to maintain his maximum speed. He can run 25 miles per hour up to 2 mi. For shorter distances, he is able to run as fast at 40 miles an hour — his highest speed.