Can Red Wolves Swim? (Swimming Behaviour of Wolves)

Can red wolves swim or not? 

Red wolves are the subspecies of the grey wolf, and these wolves are land animals. But it doesn’t mean that they can not swim. 

red wolves swim

All wolves can swim, and some subspecies of wolves that don’t have muscular bodies can swim excellently, like red wolves.

But here, why do they need to swim when their predators live on land? Or are wolves water dogs? And if they can swim, how far or in-depth can they swim? We will cover the swimming behavior of wolves in this blog. 

Red Wolves and Swimming:

Red wolves are a critically endangered wolf species native to the southeastern United States. They are smaller than their gray wolf counterparts, weighing around 50-80 pounds and standing 26 inches tall at the shoulder.

Red wolves are known for their reddish-brown fur and their characteristic black-tipped tail. They are strong swimmers, and they use their swimming skills to catch prey or travel. Moreover, they also swim to reach new territories or escape danger.

Additionally, their diet consists of small mammals like raccoons, marsh rabbits, and nutria and larger prey like white-tailed deer.

 Furthermore, the red wolves are known as coastal wolves that live in wetlands and near coastal regions, where swimming may be necessary to access food sources or escape flooding.

Is the Canis Rufus a Water Dog?

Red wolves or Canis rufus are outstanding swimmers. The wolves living in the coastal areas are well adapted to swimming, as they have to go deeper into the water to catch their prey. 

Water dog is used for the species that can swim and survive in shallow water. They can only bathe and wade in the water, but wolves can survive and swim in deeper waters.

How far do wolves swim

A wolf can swim over a distance of around 7.5 miles(12 km), according to the farthest known record.

red wolf swimming

Their swimming ability varies depending on age, health, and environmental conditions. 

However, red wolves are known as potential swimmers and can swim across rivers and other water bodies in the wild.

 They typically swim with their heads held high and use their tails as rudders to help steer them through the water. 

Do all wolf species swim?

Generally speaking, all wolves can swim. But a sub-specie of a grey wolf called a coastal wolf, also known as sea wolf, swims habitually. 

However, this subspecies of the gray wolf is rare, like the australian wolf and Vancouver Island wolf. Let’s learn more about these species. 

Sea Wolves & Vancouver Island Wolf

Seawolves are subspecies of grey wolves and live in the coastal areas of Canada.  This subspecies of wolves stay in the water most of the time, and 80% of their diet is based on seafood. 

Additionally, they are 20% smaller in size as compared to gray wolves. Their small body size plays an important role in making them skilled swimmers, as this wolf species can cover a distance of 7.5 miles at once. 

Similarly, other subspecies of the gray wolf live on Vancouver Island. This subspecies is the Vancouver Island Wolf (Canis lupus crassodon). This wolf specie is listed as a critically endangered species by IUNC.

The Vancouver Island wolf lives with 5 to 20 other wolves in a pack and prefers to avoid human interaction.

These subspecies of the gray wolf have the ability to go in deeper waters as they find most of their prey in the depth of water.

The red wolf’s body resembles these coastal wolves and has similar swimming skills. 

Are Red Wolves Good Swimmers?

Wolves are good swimmers and can cover long distances through swimming. They develop this ability to survive in the coastal area. 

Especially the red wolf is a powerful and energetic swimmer. Their body acts like a ship in the water, like their chest, which helps them swim against the water and work as a prow ( the front part of a boat).

Their long and strong legs help them to balance their body in water. Their physique gives them high tolerance and stamina for covering miles while swimming. 

How Fast and Far Can A Red Wolf Swim?

On average, red wolves can swim three to five miles, as there is no accurate record of a wolf’s swimming speed. 

The larger the animal, the more challenging it is to swim in the water. However, red wolves have slim and lightweight body structures, making them stronger swimmers than wolves (their bodies are muscular and heavy). 

Additionally, the shape of the grey wolf’s feet is like webbed feet, which act as snow shoes that help them to walk on snow and in swimming by working as a paddle. 

On the other side, the red wolves also have webbed feet, with large size, which helps them to walk conveniently in the snow season and makes them skilled swimmers.

Will Red Wolves Go In The Water To Cool Down?

In the extreme summer season, the red wolves swim and stay in the water to cool down their body temperature. 

They also use other ways in the summer season to regulate their body temperature, such as spending their daytime in dens or under dense trees and going out at night to hunt. 

Furthermore, they pant and shed thick fur to maintain their body temperature. With this, their long snout and inner nose work as a cooling system. They also eliminate heat by sweating through their paw pads.

The red wolf has a slim body and long ears that also play an essential role in regulating its body temperature. 


Red wolves swim deeper into the water and adopt this behavior as they live near coastal areas and wetlands. They have slim bodies and weigh around 50 to 80 pounds, which makes them excellent swimmers. 

As large and heavy-weight animals can not swim well in water. Other rare wolf species, known as the sea wolf and Vancouver Island wolf, are excellent swimmers, as they are also lightweight and have slim body structures.

Moreover, there is no proper record of wolf swimming speed, but on average, a wolf can swim for three to five miles. They evolved as swimmers for hunting, escaping floods, and traveling. Check out the video given below to explore more about the red wolves’ swimming behavior.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a wolf swim?

Yes, all wolves can swim. 

Are wolves strong swimmers?

Wolves are strong swimmers and can cover up to 8 miles. 

Can red wolf swim?

Wolves comfortably swim in the water with the help of their webbed feet.

Can wolves swim in water?

The wolves living nearer to the coastal areas are great swimmers.
Olivia Kepner