Accuracy and precision of estimating age of gray wolves by tooth wear

Philip S. Gipson, Warren B. Ballard, Ronald M. Nowak, L. David Mech

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201 Scopus citations


We evaluated the accuracy and precision of tooth wear for aging gray wolves (Canis lupus) from Alaska, Minnesota, and Ontario based on 47 known-age or known-minimum-age skulls. Estimates of age using tooth wear and a commercial cementum annuli-aging service were useful for wolves up to 14 years old. The precision of estimates from cementum annuli was greater than estimates from tooth wear, but tooth wear estimates are more applicable in the field. We tended to overestimate age by 1-2 years and occasionally by 3 or 4 years. The commercial service aged young wolves with cementum annuli to within ± 1 year of actual age, but under estimated ages of wolves ≥9 years old by 1-3 years. No differences were detected in tooth wear patterns for wild wolves from Alaska, Minnesota, and Ontario, nor between captive and wild wolves. Tooth wear was not appropriate for aging wolves with an underbite that prevented normal wear or severely broken and missing teeth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-758
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2000


  • Age estimation
  • Canis lupus
  • Tooth wear
  • Wolf


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