- "No one could refuse the Alpha."
- ―Jacob Black[src]
The Alpha is the highest-ranking member of a shape-shifter's wolf pack and its leader.
As the leader, the Alpha holds absolute control over his pack members, allowing the whole pack to act as a single unit in fights, emergencies and when otherwise needful, eliminating any delay between an order and its execution.
After he rises to Alpha status, Jacob mentions feeling paternal towards the other wolves in his pack, as if he should put himself between them and an eventual danger.
The Alpha wolf can choose his most trusted companions to become his second, also known as Beta, and third. Both are then subsequently given the responsibility to lead the packs if the Alpha is unable to. The chosen mid-level leaders can also select their own second and third to assist them, allowing a finely tuned organization of the pack.
The Alpha is no different from other wolves with respect of slowed-down aging while phasing, rapid healing, enhanced senses, telepathy, and physical strength. Same as them, he's sensitive to vampire venom, which is fatal to shape-shifters.
In addition to the regular telepathic link with other wolves, Alphas can share their thoughts with Alphas from other packs, though in this case communication is far from indiscriminate. They can willingly choose to share a thought, even from a distance, and can willingly close themselves off, something they can't do with their pack mates. In addition, should the Alpha's mind become mentally protected from harm, the other wolves' will also be protected. This was proven when Bella shielded Jacob and Sam with her power, providing protection to the entire packs. This may also mean that if the Alpha falls victim to a psychically supernatural power, the rest of the pack is also subject to it.
- "The compulsion to follow orders felt like puppet strings hooked into all of my muscles. One foot forward, now another."
- ―Jacob's description of being controlled by an Alpha's command.[src]
The Alpha voice is an ability that only a genetic or elected Alpha shape-shifter possesses. It is unknown how the Alpha voice works and whether an Alpha shape-shifter can use his Alpha voice to command his pack members in both human and wolf forms. Once an Alpha shape-shifter gives orders to members of his pack, his orders are obeyed blindly. The pack members cannot directly disobey commands even if they are in disagreement. However, this ability is limited to pack member and cannot influence a genetic Alpha shape-shifter.
If the Alpha candidate has no interest in the role, he can, on approval of the rest of the pack, pass it to another wolf (generally the first phased among the possible choices). A genetically determined Alpha has a stronger voice than an elected Alpha.
In the original La Push pack, Ephraim Black was the Alpha. Sam Uley became the next one, since he was the first to phase. Jacob Black was offered the leadership when he also phased, but he refused. Jacob later became the Alpha of his own pack after an argument between him and Sam. Traditionally, the Alpha of the pack is the leader of the entire Quileute tribe.
The position of Alpha can apparently be fought over, but it seems the lineage of the wolf has more to do with it. When Jacob took his rightful place as Alpha to keep Sam from attacking the Cullens, Sam and the rest of the pack were in complete shock.
Jacob explains his fight for wolf claim as "My body was responding to the challenge. The primitive core of my wolf sense tensed for battle of supremacy".
Similarly to the Alpha, the "Beta" is able to give orders to other pack members, which they can't disobey, and which are overruled only by the Alpha, if need be. To be promoted, the chosen wolf must be trusted by the Alpha. How the chain of command extends to lower ranking members is unknown, but it may be surmised that it is similar to what is found in wolves. When running in formation, the Beta runs on the Alpha's right side. He can also choose another wolf to rule under him if something happens to him.
- Levi Uley (Ephraim Black's pack)
- Jacob Black (Uley pack, before he left to start his own pack)
- Seth Clearwater (Black pack, before Leah joined the pack)
- Leah Clearwater (Black pack)
- Jared Cameron (Uley pack, after Jacob left the pack)
Third refers to the third-in-command of a shape-shifter's wolf pack, and his authority and capabilities are supposedly similar to the ones of a Beta, only of one rank lower than him.
Similarly to the Alpha and Beta, the third is able to give orders to other pack members, which are overruled only by the Alpha and the Beta. While running in formation, the third-in-command runs on the Alpha's left shoulder.
He can also select a pack member to assume authority for the pack if anything happens to him.
- Quil Ateara II (Ephraim Black's pack)
- Jared Cameron (Uley pack, before Jacob left the pack)
- Paul Lahote (Uley pack, after Jacob left the pack)
- Embry Call (Black pack) (novels only)
- Seth Clearwater (Black pack) (movies only)