A standardized framework for examination of oral lesions in Wolf skulls (Carnivora: Canidae: Canis lupus)

Luc Janssens*, Leen Verhaert, Daniel Berkowic, Dominique Adriaens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Oral lesions in wolves (Carnivora: Canidae: Canis lupus) are usually reported in a nonstandardized manner, and often only a few abnormalities are indicated. This approach has likely led to underreporting of oral lesions, thus limiting our ability to interpret wolf health conditions and thus making comparisons across geographical and taxonomic groups difficult. Here, we present a standardized oral exam protocol to examine wolf skulls for their oral lesions. Using this protocol, we analyzed 40 skulls of adult wild Middle East wolves representing 1,680 teeth. Six wolves were Canis lupus arabs, 34 were Canis lupus pallipes. Only 3 skulls showed no oral lesions. We were able to identify a large range of oral lesions and refined subclasses, exceeding the variety of what has been reported on wolf oral lesions so far. No statistical differences were found in the type and number of lesions between the 2 subspecies of wolves. Therefore, the lesions were pooled in subsequent analyses. This standardized protocol should provide a useful framework to assess oral lesions in wolf skulls, facilitating rigorous comparisons across geographic and taxonomic groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1124
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Mammalogy
Issue number4
StatePublished - 25 Jul 2016


  • Canidae
  • Canis lupus arabs
  • Canis lupus pallipes
  • Carnivora
  • Wolf
  • dental lesions
  • oral
  • oral lesions
  • periodontal disease
  • skull lesions


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