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Iberian Wolf – Canis lupus signatus, Cabrera 1904


Considered Endangered by the Portuguese Red Data Book, with a population of around 300 individuals.


This species is characterized by a large head with short, rigid and slightly pointed triangular ears. The eyes are slanted, front facing and yellow in colour.

The Iberian Wolf (Canis lupus signatus) is a subspecies of the European wolf, with smaller dimensions and weight (70 cm in height and 25 to 40 kg). His body coat is yellowish-brown, and the muzzle has reddish brown tones. Its throat is off-white, with the colour running obliquely to the outer corner of eye. In its back, a black stripe is present from neck to tail.

The limbs are strong and robust, and are brown/beige - with brown on the inner side and lighter on the outer side. In addition, there is a well-defined black stripe on the front legs which is more visible in the winter. The Latin name signatus came from this feature, which means a mark or sign. The winter coat is darker than the summer coat.

Habitat and Distribution

The distribution of this mammal mainly depends on the availability of prey, such as wild or domestic ungulates, and on the degree of human disturbance.

In Portugal, they mainly occur in mountainous areas, for having less human population densities and less intensive agriculture areas. It is mainly present on forests and temperate woods, natural pastures and rocky scrublands.

In the early 20th century, the Iberian wolf occupied almost the entire Iberian Peninsula. However, over the last hundred years the area of distribution has been severely reduced. Nowadays, the wolf population is centred on the northwest corner of the Peninsula, with some expansion movements, specially in central Spain. In Portugal, the Iberian Wolf ranges in an area of about 20.000 km2, mainly north of Douro river - around 20% of the original area which used to be almost all of the territory in the early 20’s.

Number of packs in Portugal may vary between 45 and 55 north of Douro river, and around 10 south of the same river.


The main factors which contributed for the regression of this species were direct persecution by man, reduction of wild ungulate populations and habitat fragmentation.

Currently in Portugal, the main threats are shortage of food resources, refugee areas, habitat fragmentation and man due mortality – poaching, poisoning and car collisions.

By becoming an expeditionary with Bioinsight, you’ll contribute for the conservation of this iconic and endangered species, gathering data that will help enhancing knowledge about the wolf ecology.

Join us and play your role in the history of the Iberian Wolf in Portugal. Take a look at our available Expeditions.

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