What is the Rarest Wolf Species?

The gray wolf is one of the biggest wolf species that are found throughout the world. But there are some rarest wolf species that are marked as endangered species or have gone extinct. 

Moreover, the 5 rarest canids that are present in our ecosystem are the Mexican gray wolf, red wolf, Darwin’s fox, island wolf, and Ethiopian wolf. We will discuss all these endangered wolf species in detail in this blog. 

5 Rarest Wolf Species – (With Pictures & Conservation Status)

Mexican Gray wolves

The Mexican Wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) is one of the smallest wolf species in north america and northern Mexico. This subspecies has faced a severe decline in population over the years. 

The main factors  that  led this subspecies nearer to extinction are habitat loss, illegal killing, and hunting. 

These wolves have suffered from habitat fragmentation due to human activities, leading to reduced territory and limited prey availability. 

Presently, there are 300 Mexican wolves in the captive breeding center in the U.S., and nearly 60 are left in the wild where they are referred to as the “nonessential experimental population.” 

It is marked as a critically endangered species, and the conservation programs which were planned for restoring this species are facing objections. 

Moreover, this species faced strong hatred from US Fish and Wildlife Service in 2018, as they had legalized killing them.

Red Wolves

The Red Wolf (Canis Rufus), is the rarest and most endangered of all the wolf species. In the mid of the 20th century, this species reached the brink of extinction

And in 1973 some red wolves were captured, and only 14 pure breeds were captivated. Presently, there are 200 red wolves in the captivated center, and around 120 wolves habituated the wild of northeastern North Carolina.

This wolf subspecies is also categorized as an experimental nonessential population and were the victim of illegal hunting like Mexican wolves.

 At the start of 2012, 10 red wolves were killed, and FWS found out the data to detect the suspect for these killings. 

Moreover, red wolves are listed as critically endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Ethiopian Wolf

Nearly 450 to 500  Ethiopian wolves (Canis simensis) are present in Africa. But the problem is that this number of Ethiopian wolves is distributed in six fragmented population groups.

Some with less than 25 wolves, are dispersed a hundred kilometers away from each other. So only a few of them can travel from one pack to another, 

At the same time, the killing of livestock is ongoing, low levels of prey, diseases outbreak, and increasing human activities are also affecting the Ethiopian wolf population

But in all these circumstances the good thing is the huge ratio of their population is secured in the protected area. And efforts are going on for developing the national parks, so this wolf subspecies can be safe from more damage. 

Darwin’s Fox

This canine belongs to the fox family and is amongst the most endangered species. The Darwin’s Fox (Lycalopex fulvipes) is a critically endangered species endemic to the Chiloé Islands of Chile.

The population of the Darwin’s fox on the island, specifically in the two national parks of the island is safest, but outside of it, they are going through habitat loss and poaching. 

As of the current conservation status, it is estimated that fewer than 250 foxes remain in the wild, making it one of the rarest canids in the world.

Island Fox

This canid is not only the sole animal but actually, is six various species that inhabited on its own separate island, away from the California coast. 

These unique subspecies of foxes were badly affected by infectious diseases, especially the foxes of Catalina Island. 

Additionally, the invasion by the golden eagles (Aquila chrysaetos), finds out medium or small-sized canines as their potential prey. 

These giant eagles are hardly seen on the Californian island, but in 1960 the decline of the bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) triggered them to migrate, and colonize.

In the 1990s, it results in the zero population of the four subspecies of the fox. Then in 2000, the San Miguel Island fox and the Santa Rosa Island fox, each species’ populations declined, and only  15 were left from each species. 

Moreover, only 80 Santa Cruz island fox species and 103 Santa Catalina Island foxes were left. But this increasing number of declining ratio of canid species had boosted conservation efforts

The result of these efforts appeared in 2011, the number of subspecies increased by hundreds and the other two subspecies (Santa Cruz and Santa Catalina) reached nearly 1400 to 1500.


There are many gray wolf subspecies, out of which some are rarest. These unique species of the Canid family are categorized as critically endangered. The 5 rarest canids are the Mexican gray wolf, red wolf, Ethiopian wolf, Darwin’s fox, and island fox. 

But the conservation efforts are ongoing under the U.S. Endangered Species Act, and captive breeding programs to protect them from further damage. Don’t miss the video below by the National Wildlife Federation on the rarest wolf species.

Frequently Asked Question

Are there any rare wolves?

The Ethiopian wolf is the world’s rarest wolf.

What is the most dangerous wolf?

The northwestern wolf is the most dangerous wolf in the world.

What is the rarest wolf?

The red wolf( canis rufus) is the most dangerous and rarest wolf.

What is the rare extinct wolf?

The dire wolf is the rare extinct wolf.

Olivia Kepner