The legs of an Ethiopian wolf are strikingly long and slender, seemingly suitable for coursing in open country. The muzzle is long, and the small, well-spaced teeth suggest morphological adaptation to feeding on rodents. The ears are pointed and broad, their dorsal surface red fringed with long white hairs growing inward from the edge
The adult pelage is soft and short, of a distinctive bright tawny rufous colour with a dense whitish to pale ginger underfur. The throat, chest, a band around the ventral part of the neck, the underparts and inside of limbs are white, with the outline between the red coat and the white markings sharp and well defined. The tail is a thick black brush with the proximal third white underneath.
Male Ethiopian wolves are significantly larger than females (average 16 kg compared with 13 kg).