So here’s a fun topic – I already talked about werewolf eye colors. What about werewolf fur colors? (And wolf fur colors!)
This is a favorite topic of mine, because who doesn’t like fur colors?
Firstly, let’s talk about fur in general.
There is a common misconception that wolves are “grey.” This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While wolves often have grey in their fur and sometimes are almost solid grey, they are by no means “grey animals.” Coloring them grey in cartoons and the like is just a way of simplifying them, but unfortunately it’s really caught on in pop culture, and grey has become the wolf color.
And in some cases all werewolves are pretty much considered grey. I’m looking at you, worgen in World of Warcraft. (Seriously, let my worgen – especially the male ones – have some actual color, please.)
Something to remember about fur, which you probably already know, is that fur is composed of many, many different colors, on average. Fur is layered, and individual hairs can taper into different colors. It is actually terrible injustice to the beauty of wolf fur to make wolves exclusively so grey in pop culture, because wolf coats have many amazing patterns! Just look up a few individual wolf species – like a personal favorite, the Mexican Wolf – if you want to see some of the fur patterns they can have.
Even grey wolves, or wolves that we look at and consider “grey,” have lots of different colors involved: greys, browns, blacks, often some reddish-browns, and whites.
So how many wolf fur colors are there, really?
Here’s a simple list for actual wolves:
- Assorted combinations thereof (almost all of these would be combinations of colors, but sometimes they can get surprisingly solid coats, especially in white and black wolves!)
Some wolves have no grey at all!
Here’s something else interesting: if you see wolves with more white and grey on them – particularly around the highlights, muzzle/face (around the mouth is where they will appear the whitest), and paws – they are probably relatively old wolves. Wolves get grey, like many other animals (and people).
And, likewise, when younger, wolves with the most common wolf fur patterns (i.e., not golden, black, white, etc., or more solidly colored in some way) have more browns and brighter reddish-brown fur.
Fun fact: it is true that black wolves are, on average, bigger than other wolves, thanks to the genetic mutations that created their black coats also often going hand in hand with genes that simply make larger wolves. However, the common trope in fiction of white wolves being the most powerful is kind of silly, as – while any species of wolf can be born with a white coat – the main species of white-dominant wolves (Arctic Wolves) are actually smaller on average than many other wolf species.
So now that we know wolves have more variety than pop culture sometimes gives them credit for, what about werewolves and their fur colors in folklore?
As you might imagine, werewolves in folklore come in pretty much just as wide a variety as real wolves, but sometimes they did get a bit odder. Just a few of the words used to describe werewolves’ coloration in folklore included…
- “Yellow” (specifically used in an instance of a humanoid werewolf – furred, of course, as all werewolves in folklore were – with a “yellow tail”)
- “Rufulous” (red, or reddish)
- Dark brown