It isn’t unusual for coyotes and domestic dogs to cross paths, and it might have made you wonder if they have ever mated. Well, the answer is yes; coyotes can breed with dogs! Both are closely related and have been interbreeding for centuries. Coyotes and dogs are part of the Canid (Canidae) family, which consists of wolves, dogs, jackals, foxes, and various other dog species. While some members of this family have too many differences to mate successfully, the dog and coyote have many genetic similarities.
The hybrid of a male coyote and a female dog is known as a Coydog, while a Dogote is a hybrid with a coyote mother and a dog father. So, let’s take a closer look at what happens when a coyote breeds with a domestic dog.
When Did Coyote-Dog Hybrids First Occur?
It’s believed that coyote-dog hybrids occurred long before Europeans colonized North America. There have even been recordings of Coydogs being bred on purpose, like in Teotihuacan, Mexico, where coyotes were revered.
Some people bred them with domestic dogs to produce guardian animals that were loyal and fierce. In northern Canada, they also bred Coydogs because they needed hardy canines to pull their sleds, a practice that continued into the 20th century.
How Common Is It for Coyotes and Dogs to Breed?
While we know that coyotes and domestic dogs can mate successfully, it is rare, and there are a few potential reasons. The mating cycles of coyotes are very different from those of domestic dogs. Coyotes generally mate from January to March, which allows for their pups to be born in warmer months and is often a key to their survival. On the other hand, domestic dogs do not stick to this cycle; a domestic female typically has two heat cycles per year.
The domestic dog and coyote have different social styles, and coyotes don’t get along with dogs as well as wolves do. Coyotes will mate with dogs if they expand into a new area and cannot find a coyote mate. Coyotes will also not form a pair bond with a dog like it would its own kind, which means only the mother will care for the resulting pups. This leads to a lower survival rate for the Coydog puppies.
Many hybrids produce sterile offspring, like a liger (lion and tiger hybrid) or a mule (horse and donkey hybrid). However, the resulting puppies from a coyote and dog union are perfectly capable of reproducing.
Can You Legally Own a Coydog?
Coydogs aren’t very common, which means there are no breed standards or regulations for each state. However, some states will allow you to own exotics and wolf hybrids, for example, and if that is the case for your state, you might find you can also own a Coydog.
You will need to do some research, especially into the regulations for Wolfdogs or Wolf hybrids in your particular state and the regulations for your city.
The states where you can legally own a Wolfdog or Wolf hybrid are:
Do Coydogs Make Good Pets?
While it might be legal to own a Coydog, it doesn’t necessarily make it a good idea. Mixed breeds are always challenging to predict because they can favor either parent, and if your Coydog favors its coyote roots, it will be harder to train and handle. Coyotes are known to have high prey drives and display hostility toward humans, which are not ideal traits for a pet.
Coydogs will require an owner that is highly trained and confident in their ability to manage a wild, unpredictable animal. If this doesn’t sound like something you could do, we suggest a companion that resembles the domestic dog’s wild cousin, like the Alaskan Malamute or the German Shepherd.
Coyotes can breed with domestic dogs, but it doesn’t tend to happen very frequently without breeders getting involved. Although the coyote and the dog are very similar, they don’t share the same breeding cycles or social styles. It’s also important to note that coyotes and domestic dogs are not the same even if they look similar, so if you’re considering getting a Coydog, make sure you do your research first into whether it’s legal in your state and city to own one.
Featured Image Credit: Amelia Martin, Shutterstock