What Is a Coydog?

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A true coydog likely has one pure coyote for a parent.
A true coydog likely has one pure coyote for a parent. (Image: bobloblaw/iStock/Getty Images)

Some people believe that coydogs are the stuff of urban legend, that they exist only in the minds of the speculative. Others say they not only exist but they're common, roaming every patch of undeveloped forest on the face of the globe. Coydogs are the offspring of a coyote and domestic dog, and they do in fact exist. Coydogs are uncommon creatures, their existence the product of unlikely interspecific breeding.

An Unlikely Breed

While coydog existence has been scientifically proven, it is a rare animal, with a few factors lowering its likelihood. Foremost is a coyote's predisposed inclination to eat a domestic dog rather than mate with it. Coyotes are monogamous; if one loses a mate, it will likely pair with another coyote. Another strike against the frequency of coydogs is the coyote's limited breeding season -- coyotes mate only January through March, before domestic dogs go into heat.

What Is a Coydog?

A coydog is the mixed-breed result of a coyote and domestic dog, but people often mistake other canines for coydogs. It's an easy mistake since, aside from the piercing gaze inherited from the coyote, there's no set physical description of a coydog, given the wide range of domestic dogs in existence. A coydog likely would get 50 percent of its genetic material from the coyote parent. A fertile female coydog, if impregnated, would birth at inclimate times of year when pup survival would be unlikely.

A true coydog likely has one pure coyote for a parent.
A true coydog likely has one pure coyote for a parent. (Image: bobloblaw/iStock/Getty Images)

Coydog Behavior

Wolves and domestic dogs are subspecies of the same species (Canis lupus), while the coyote is a distinct species (Canis latrans) with unique behaviors that coydogs can inherit. One such behavior is an unmistakeable gaping of the mouth when threatened, a move that differs from teeth-baring in a wolf or dog. Another coydog behavior is the ability to hiss like a cat, something that neither domestic dogs nor wolves can do but other canids such as foxes can.

Coydogs can exhibit the coyote's distinctive mouth gape.
Coydogs can exhibit the coyote's distinctive mouth gape. (Image: karlumbriaco/iStock/Getty Images)

Coydogs Are Not Pets

Coydogs are strongly discouraged as companion animals, as their mixed genetic makeup creates a breed that is highly unpredictable -- a dangerous characteristic in a pet. While coyotes flee human contact, coydogs are known to act doglike, wagging tails and approaching people, only to turn aggressive and threatening. The coyote's opportunistic omnivorism also creates a risk, as a coydog in the home is liable to attack other pets or even people in whom it senses weakness.

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