The maned wolf has often been described as"red fox on stilts" owing to its similar coloration and overall appearance, though it is much larger than a red fox and belongs to a different genus. The maned wolf is the tallest of the wild canids. The long legs are probably an adaptation to the tall grasslands of its native habitat. Fur of the maned wolf may be reddish brown to golden orange on the sides with long, black legs and a distinctive black mane. The coat is further marked with a whitish tuft at the tip of the tail and a white "bib" beneath the throat. The mane is erectile, and is typically used to enlarge the wolf's profile when threatened or
when displaying aggression.The maned wolf is also known for its distinctive odor, which has earned it the nickname "skunk wolf."
Unlike other large canids (such as the gray wolf, the African hunting dog, or the dhole) the maned wolf does not form packs. It hunts alone, usually between sundown and midnight. It kills its prey by biting on the neck or back, and shaking it violently if necessary.
The maned wolf is said to be a potential chicken thief; it was once also considered a threat to cattle and sheep, though this is now known to be false. In Brazil, the animal was historically hunted down for some body parts, notably the eyes, that were believed to be good luck charms. Since its classification as a Vulnerable species by the Brazilian government, it has received greater consideration and protection from most people. They are also threatened by habitat loss and being run over by cars. Feral and domestic dogs attack them and pass on diseases to them. The maned wolf is generally shy and flees when alarmed, so it poses little direct threat to humans. It occurs in several protected areas, including the national parks of Caraça and Emas in Brazil. The Maned Wolf is well represented in captivity, and has been bred successfully at a number of zoos, particularly in Argentina.