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Coydogs
image Coydogs. Are they real creatures, or just the stuff of urban legend? As the name implies, a coydog would be a cross between a coyote and a dog. But according to Chrissie Henner, a biologist at the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, they're an urban legend. She says that "there has never been any physical evidence of a half-dog, half-coyote animal." Not that it would be impossible for the two species to mate and produce an offspring, just very unlikely. Though Henner also points out that the mating cycles of the two species differ: "Coyotes go in to heat between January and March and have pups in May or June, while dogs have their pups in winter." So if animal experts such as Henner are correct that there's no physical evidence of the existence of coydogs, then what exactly is the Sundance Coydogs site selling? Are these coyotes, or dogs that look coyote-like, or real coydogs?
Categories: Animals
Posted by The Curator on Tue Dec 21, 2004
"...most wolfdogs I've worked with are fairly nice, but they usually object to being handled or restrained."
As I was saying, they make pretty poor domestic animals.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Thu Dec 23, 2004  at  10:47 AM
I have one of those wolfdogs. 75 percent grey wolf, 25 percent malamute, 100 percent dopey furball. Though mine is of the sort Gary C mentions, I've known others that were quite well-behaved, and didn't mind handling, or being restrained. My dog is part arctic breed, so she wants to pull, pull, pull. She is now 10 and doesn't seem to go into heat anymore, but it was an annual thing, though regular dogs go into heat at any old time, sometimes several times a year. And size would have no bearing, i.e. wolf vs. fox...have you ever seen a dachshund try to mate with a blue heeler? She gets bored and stands up, he's still 'attached', going at it while she wanders to the food dish. The resulting puppies were cute, but oddly proportioned. Short, long, blue heelers with long noses.
Dog and coyote cross? Why not?
Posted by catlady  on  Thu Dec 23, 2004  at  12:59 PM
I could apply my comment about being difficult to handle to several dog breeds (cocker spaniels come to mind, along with labradors)...but the northern breeds do seem to be more melodramatic about it.
Posted by hippievet  on  Sun Dec 26, 2004  at  06:42 PM
I know people who have coydogs, once their female dog goes into heat they attracht all sorts of animals. My dad told me he once had one when he was a teenager, said it was the best dog he ever had.
Posted by Wes Rains  on  Tue Dec 28, 2004  at  02:40 AM
You might want to look at http://members.aol.com/jshartwell/hybrid-mammals.html for a discussion of coydogs (coyote father, dog mother), dogotes (dog father, coyote mother) and other mammal hybrids. It seems that when a coyote can't find a mate of its own species, the urge to breed is strong enough that it will mate with an available dog or wolf. This is more likely to happen in captivity when humans control the choice of mate, but occasionally happens in the wild.
Posted by Sarah  in  UK  on  Sat Jan 01, 2005  at  03:34 PM
Sure, but there's a tendency for hybrids to be disfavored as mates in the F1 and F2 generations, so actual gene transfer between the species is apparently nil.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Sat Jan 01, 2005  at  07:10 PM
About twenty years ago my parents has a small dog that they got from the shelter. The back legs were shaped exactly like a coyotes, something I have never seen on another dog. I have presumed that such inter-breeding is possible. And the definition of species requires fertile offspring under NATURAL conditions. Offspring from matings in zoos or other artificial conditions do not count. Wolves can recognize dogs as mates and have produced fertile offspring as a result. There does not seem to have been enough time to split the two into seperate species, although it probably will happen.
Posted by Christopher Cole  in  Tucson, AZ  on  Sat Jan 01, 2005  at  11:51 PM
Gahhh. They ARE separate species! DNA tests show the split happened tens of thousands of years ago and there has been no significant gene flow since!
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Sun Jan 02, 2005  at  12:43 AM
If anyone has a subscription to New Scientist magazine they had a very good scientific article on speciation last year (it's available online, but subscription only). The concept of species is largely a human one and nature is very good at borrowing genes in order to create new forms that can utilise a habitat more successfully than either parent. Nature also manages to cause confusion with "ring species" as found in some gulls.

Human taxonomists like to define inflexible species (these days based on DNA rather than appearance) but nature is happy to cock a snook at human definitions and upsetting human taxonomists by producing hybrids in the wild.

A lot of hybrids are unsuccessful (unviable or infertile or easy prey), but plenty of others are turning out to be viable and fertile (females only, have to backcross the F1 to one or other parent species but the F2 generation are often fully fertile).
Posted by Sarah  in  UK  on  Mon Jan 03, 2005  at  06:27 AM
I had a wonderful "friend", for nearly 19 years, who was a wolf/husky/collie/shepard mix. Never went into heat, and presume she was infertile, but her personality blended some of the best traits of all four species. Highly intellegent, and very good around small children also, so she did not mind being "handled" in the slightest.

She did love to "pull,pull,pull" and also to run - she could range for miles given the opportunity.
Two different vets agreeed, independently, as to her ancestry. I believe the was the result of a breeding experiment, since she came from a family that raised "domesticated" wolves, and had a number of wolf-dog crosses at various times. Consequently, I am convinced that at least some wolf/dog crosses are possible. It seems logical to me that crossing
a cyote with a dog would also be possible, but I
agree that it might be quite unlikely between a
wild dog and a wild coyote.
Posted by Harrison Stone  in  Vero Beach, FL  on  Wed Jan 05, 2005  at  09:44 PM
It is true enough that natural coydogs are rare, and their population is as close to negligible as you can get. It is likely that most coydogs are either bred in captivity or had mixed parents who were bred in captivity. They are different species, however, and rarely associate with each other (coyotes and dogs), so you don't really have to worry about your bitch coming home bearing a litter of coydogs. Many of those who protest that natural coydogs don't even exist may do so at least partly because admitting their existence or the possibility of their existence could legitimize thinning to coyote population. If this is so, their fears are unjustified because natural coydogs are likely to be so rare as to be a negligible risk except in areas that have an unreasonably high feral dog population.

Coydogs generally make poorer pets than wolfdogs because coyotes are generally solitary animals whose social relations are usually limited strictly to immediate family. This puts them at a disadvantage to wolfdogs as domesticatable animals because wolfdogs, while difficult to control and sometimes (though not as often as one would expect) dangerous to humans, are at least highly social animals and, therefore, trainable in the hands of a HIGHLY EXPERIENCED OWNER who has an EXOTICS LICENSE and KNOWS WHAT HE'S DOING. Taking in a wolfdog without at least these qualifications is nothing short of imbecilic.
Posted by Bill Mutz  in  NC  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  11:58 AM
So possibly I was "an imbicile" for those 19 years, since I have never had/thought of having an "exotics license". Basing my "training" of her only on some (then) 35 years experience of knowing/living with/raising canines of numerous shapes, sizes and
(often) highly mixed ancestry must have been insufficient, in your view, since she remained a loyal, protective companion for nearly 19 years until she died. Once, she saved my life by disarming an
attacker, but did not pursue the matter excessively.
Maybe both of us were imbeciles.
Posted by Harrison Stone  on  Mon Jan 10, 2005  at  10:58 PM
Harrison: it depends entirely upon the laws of your state or province and how well they are enforced. That you'd had plenty of experience with dogs of mixed ancestry probably contributed much to your success, but I do think that wolf-dogs, handled responsibly, can be among the best creatures you can possibly have on your side if you really want to know the truth.

I was merely trying to underline that toying with animals that one knows nothing about is generally a bad move, and I also tend to consider breaking the law a bad move. If you disagree, then I would like to hear why.
Posted by Bill Mutz  in  North Carolina  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  07:50 PM
You are making a bunch of assumptions, somewhat insultingly. First: She was not considered an "exotic" under the laws in that time and place,
according to 3 different veternarians. Secondly,
you are assuming that I advocate breaking laws, and
have done so habitually. Third, you have no knowledge whatsoever of what my educational/training/experience
might have been. Therfore I must consider you more than a bit arrogant, supercilious, and more than a little obnoxious.
Posted by Harrison Stone  on  Tue Jan 11, 2005  at  10:27 PM
Try actually listening for a change:

The first post wasn't even directed at you. It was written without forknowledge of your posts. I was commenting on the article at the top. Regardless of any faults you may find in my character, whether or not they exist, answer the following questions if you're interested in bringing this thread of conversation to a peaceful close:

1. Do you think that it is in the best interests of everyone, including the animals, that people interested in adopting exotic animals of any kind should follow the laws regarding them?

2. Do you think that it is generally wise to avoid adopting animals that one has little familiarity and no prior experience with?

3. Do people who adopt hybrid animals such as coydogs and wolfdogs as a status symbol without giving much regard to the well-being of the animal being adopted annoy you?

If we're in agreement on those three things, then we are completely in agreement, and if I expressed or appeared to express any sentiment other than the above, then just consider it void. I didn't make any assumptions about you. You're the one who decided to take offense and get all confrontational. I've been trying my best to be polite and have avoided attacking you, so if you want to get all piqued at someone, you've picked the wrong person.

If I said something that offended you before, then I'm sorry. I had absolutely no intention of hurting your delicate feelings. All I intended to do was voice the opinion that people shouldn't rush unprepared into adopting exotic pets without giving any regard to the animal's well-being or the law. You did no such thing, of course, but here's a clue for you: you don't live at the center of the universe. There are hordes of people out there who have millions of misconceptions about wolfdogs and coydogs, most of them in the government, and I was referring to people who rush into adopting exotic animals thinking it will make them 'cool' as imbecilic. You didn't even know that your late companion was a mix when you got her, so you are so far from this category that it's incredible to me that you could possibly think that I was referring you. I was referring to people who treat animals as ornaments, and if you'd turn on your malfunctional brain for a minute, I have a feeling that you'd find you feel the same in spirit if not completely.

I'm an aspiring writer, so sometimes what I write comes through sounding bombastic. It's unintentional, and I have absolutely no intention of being mean-spirited.
Posted by Bill Mutz  in  North Carolina  on  Wed Jan 12, 2005  at  02:32 PM
I'm not sure if they are still there, but a few years ago there was a display of stuffed Coydogs in the Illinois State Museum in Springfield, IL.

They looked like a cross between the coyote and some of the larger Walker hounds that were often used to hunt both coyotes and foxes.

I've also seen quite a few coyote (brought into the fur buying stations in our area) that were probably mixes. Most of them were a fair bit larger (esp. heavier) than a coyote, with reddish-brown fur that was somewhat "blotchy" especially on the back and shoulders. I vividly remember one pickup truck loaded with 10-12 of them and the negotiations over the price of their fur.

I can say that we had a coyote as a "pet" back in the 1960's and it was not a very endearing animal. It would only allow one neighbor boy and myself around it, though it was very friendly with us. The darn thing never used it's dog house, and instead dug a large burrow under the shed it was tied to. A good pet, but I released it after a couple of years, so it could go about living the wild life.

Also, my sister in law used to live with a man (in AZ) who raised "Wolfies" that were Shepherd/Wolf mixes. They didn't look anything like the coydogs, and were pretty good pets. Large and scary as hell though. LOL

So yeah, coydogs do exist. I've seen them first hand on quite a few occasions...

Hope I don't offend "The Reverend Muntz" who posted previously, but I'm sure that most everyone here do not care to consider his "aspiring writer" excuse to backhandedly insult others, to be anything more than the bleating of a loudmouthed, hybridized, buttmunch... LOL
Posted by Tom Kilver  in  Illinois, usa  on  Sun Jan 30, 2005  at  01:44 AM
(((I can say that we had a coyote as a "pet" back in the 1960's and it was not a very endearing animal. It would only allow one neighbor boy and myself around it, though it was very friendly with us.)))

This makes sense. In the wild, coyotes are either solitary or travel with their immediate families (mates and offspring).

(((The darn thing never used it's dog house, and instead dug a large burrow under the shed it was tied to. A good pet, but I released it after a couple of years, so it could go about living the wild life.)))

I wouldn't have advised releasing it. When wild animals get used to thinking as humans as a possible source of food, they are more likely to become dangerous. Fortunately, coyotes are cowards and unlikely to attack a full-grown human under most circumstances, so perhaps it wouldn't hurt anything in this case. Besides, I assume you have more experience with this than myself.

(((Hope I don't offend "The Reverend Muntz")))

You do. For starters, you spelled my name incorrectly.

(((who posted previously, but I'm sure that most everyone here do not care to consider his "aspiring writer" excuse to backhandedly insult others.)))

The thing is, I haven't backhandedly insulted anyone. You're reading too much into what I say. Try taking what I've written at face value. Harrison assumed incorrectly that my original post here was referring to his actions, and I have made it clear that I don't have the least problem with his actions in regard to the wolfdog. If anything, I consider them admirable. I was referring to a completely different sort of person.

Your comments about the volume of my voice and regarding my sexual practices are discarded on the grounds of at once being uncharmingly crass and possessing a complete absence of wit, and they make evident little more than an intellectual vacuum.
Posted by Bill Mutz  on  Tue Feb 01, 2005  at  10:16 AM
Actually in the right environments coyotes form rather wolflike packs.

Don't generalize from one coydog to all coydogs (or all coyotes!). I've met perfectly domesticated Canis familiaris that were just as standoffish as this animal. Heck, my mom had a Doberman as a girl that would only tolerate her.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Tue Feb 01, 2005  at  09:01 PM
Actually, from what I've heard, coyotes generally do prefer to hunt alone. They have been known to form small packs on occassion, but it remains that the species is less socially inclined than lupines. I would suspect, given compatibility, that any large pack of coyotes might be a result of occassional interbreeding between them and their red wolf relatives. I don't know how much substance there is to it, but I read somewhere that some have thought that red wolves might have arisen from interbreeding between coyotes and some other species of wolf. Has this been discredited?
Posted by Bill Mutz  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  04:00 PM
There are also lone wolves, Bill. Canines in general are fairly flexible in social behavior (as species). Individuals aren't necessarily flexible, but they vary a lot.

And yes, the red wolf has been demonstrated by DNA testing to be no closer to coyotes than any other wolf (in North America).
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Fri Feb 04, 2005  at  10:12 PM
Although I don't like to engage in personal discussions, I have to say I'm with Bill Mutz on this one, so """"I'm sure that most everyone here do not care to consider his "aspiring writer" excuse to backhandedly insult others"""" does not apply to me and I think it was a rather rude and arrogant thing to say.
On a more interesting subject, I would like to say that I agree with Bill when he says that Tom Kilver shouldn't have released his animal in the wild. Bill says that they become more dangerous because they are used to be around humans (please don't call them "cowards", animals are not cowards, that is typical of people trying to explain animal behaviour by comparing it to human behaviour). I can see how that can be possible, but the first thought that came in to my mind was how they become less frightened of humans and can be killed more easily. I don't know the reality of coyotes in America, if they suffer human persecution, if they are shot, etc. I am a biologist working with wolves in Portugal and here we have a big struggle to keep our wolves alive since shepherds and hunters try to shoot or poison them. There were stories of wolves being raised in people's houses and they were taken to a "wolf shelter" because if they were released to the wild they would not fear Man and they would be the first to get a bullet because they'd get curious if they saw people on the wild and approach them, when those people might just be trying to get them... (I just want to say that here it is illegal to kill wolves as well as raise them as pets).
Posted by corax  in  Lisbon-Portugal  on  Wed Feb 09, 2005  at  02:23 PM
Dog and Coyote bitches may come into heat at different times of the year, but, I'VE NEVER KNOWN BITCHES TO BREED WITH BITCHES! I don't think the males care what time of year it is.
If my male pitbull finds a female coyote in heat, he's going to breed with it, and no coyote is going to stop him.
Posted by Jeff Goven  in  USA  on  Mon Mar 28, 2005  at  09:20 PM
"I'VE NEVER KNOWN BITCHES TO BREED WITH BITCHES!" - Jeff

Never seen "Basic Instinct"?
hmmm
Posted by Rod  in  the land of smarties.  on  Mon Mar 28, 2005  at  09:41 PM
Coyote dogs are no urban legend!I work on a reservation in Southern Alberta where there are ferrel (sp?) dogs and coyotes running around everywhere. Some of these dogs are certainly part coyote, judging by their disposition and their appearance. I've shared my lunch with a coydog. Band members shoot them when the populations get too high, or they become a menace. Someone come out here and do a DNA test, I'd bet my ass that you'll find that these wild dogs are a good part coyote!
Posted by Jeff  in  Alberta, Canada  on  Wed Apr 20, 2005  at  01:30 PM
Ths is a very strange topic, to be sure...
Regardless, the Sundacer coydogs ARE real coydogs. Most are F2 50%'s though which means they may look more like dogs than coyotes. They are NOT mixed with wolves (wolf hybrids look much different than these animals). I was recently reading a book called "The Dog: Its Domestication and Behavior" and it describes experimental breeding that was done between Coyotes and Beagles--it showed pictures of the resulting pups through 4 generations of breeding--so YES breeding between coyotes and dogs is entirely possible, ESPECIALLY in captivity.
Plese visit http://www.ucc.uconn.edu/~PSYCADM7/pres1.htm for more info on the beagle/coys.
Check out http://science-research-canid.itgo.com/coydog.htm for a picture of a beautiful F1 coyote cross (See the one blue eye? Coyotes don't have blue eyes--this proves that the animal is part dog)
Here is another article on Coydogs:
http://www.coydog.us/alune.html

~Seij
Posted by Seijun  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  12:45 PM
I don't think anyone denied that it's possible to cross coyotes and dogs in captivity -- in captivity you can cross lions and leopards, for instance, but there is only the most insubstantial evidence of this happening in nature. One doubts that coydogs exist outside a lab or breeding farm.
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Wed Apr 27, 2005  at  09:49 PM
I was camping in in our 24 foot motorhome at a National Forest in Prescott, AZ this past summer (June 2004) - along with my husband and my border collie, Vera. It was dusk/early nightfall and I was washing dishes in the motorhome. Vera was on a tie-out outside the motorhome to allow her some freedom to roam about the campsite without running away. I heard noises outside the motorhome and I went outside to investigate.

What I saw was a very nervous Vera "sniffing tails" with a coyote - she most definitely did NOT look like a happy camper but it was a coyote, never-the-less and they were most definitely sniffing one another. Vera looked rather distressed. The the coyote, by contrast, did not look particularly upset by the whole interaction but then he took off when he saw me approach.

Since Vera was obviously too big to be prey and since he was clearly "getting personal" with her, I would have to assume that if she were unspayed and in season, he would likely have mounted her.

One can only imagine what border collie-coyote puppies would have looked like but one thing is quite certain - they would have been very bright animals, indeed. Then again, one wonders would they have herded the sheep or eaten them? The whole thing sort of reminds me of the Gary Larson cartoon where a love-struck and rather foolish looking wolf is holding a bouquet of flowers behind his back and ringing the doorbell of a home where a sheep is about to answer the door. I can't recall the caption but it was something very ludicrous and amusing.

As for all this bru-ha-ha about whether they can or cannot mate or whether they are or are not inclined to do so, I can advise that it is most definitely possible for them to interbreed and, moreover, I am given to suspect that such is exactly what this young fellow had in mind.

I am quite sure that if Vera were in heat and then if I left her out there unattended on a tie-out that Mr. "One-Night Stand" Coyote he would have most definitely gotten the job done - and, worst of all- NOT brought her any flowers to boot!
Posted by Lois E Brenneman, MSN, APN  in  New Jersey  on  Thu May 05, 2005  at  02:33 PM
Lois, male coyotes are only fertile in late winter, so even if he had wanted to, the coyote you saw could not have fertilized your dog (had she been in heat). Also, coyotes tend to be a bit more "formal" about things. A male dog will typically mount any in-heat female, whether he knows her or not. On the other hand, a coyote will court a female for several months before mating with her (at least, from what I have read). So in theory, if the coyote HAD wanted to carry on a relationship with your dog, he probably would not have tried mounting her on their first date, lol. (Although, here I am only assuming--I do not know why a male coyote courts the female for so long before mating. If it is ONLY because the female will not let him mount unless they have courted first, then perhaps a dog WOULD let a male coyote mount on the first meeting, since female dogs typically don't seem to care if they know the male participant or not).

~Seij
Posted by Seijun  on  Thu May 05, 2005  at  03:01 PM
It is reassuring to know that Mr. Coyote was not just "using" my dog or seeking to take advantage of her innocence. Actually, Vera is not all that innocent, anyway. It seems that before we adopted her from the shelter she had been on the lamb (pardon the phrase) and managed to conceive and deliver a litter of nine puppies. Sadly, I do believe that if Vera was in season, she might well have been a very "easy date" for Mr Coyote although I could not testify to such fact with certainty. It seems that Vera was already spayed when we got her and all the puppies had been previously adopted out. I could not say for certainty how long she knew her puppies' father before she permitted certain liberties.

Actually, not totally unlike coyotes, female dogs are known to have distinct preferences in this regard, as well. Prior to Vera, I had acquired a golden retriever on a breeding contract from the breeder from whence we got her. When she came into season, on multiple occasions, no matter which stud dog the breeder would bring over, Seara was having no part of it. She would mercilessly tease and lead-on the various male dogs then viciously bite their face when they would actually attempt to mount her.

Seara, however, was exceedingly receptive to, Sammy, a neighbor's (rather coarse and uncoothed) large coon hound who was, in fact, quite successful in tieing her - fortunately, he was "fixed" so no coonhound-retriever puppies ensued.

One of the aspiring golden retriever stud dogs did, infact, give up on trying to breed her but settled instead to eat up all of her food, drink all her water and then move in - lock, stock and barrel - into her doghouse. When the breeder came to take him home, he absolutely did not want to go home - it seems he had planned to move in to Seara's spacious run.

Apparently this particular dog was not the top dog at the breeder's home (she had numerous other male dogs, one of whom was the Alpha dog). I supect that he figured he could elevate his status by starting a new pack of his own at my house. Perhaps he felt that Seara would eventually come around and he could start a new pack once the puppies were born (just what we needed). This fellow was most unhappy about returning home and even jumped out of the rear window as the breeder was pulling out of the driveway to drive him home
Posted by brennele  on  Thu May 05, 2005  at  09:33 PM
I recently, dec. '04, took in my brother's 15 year old dog, he's on a long term sailing trip, and she was afriad and shook while on the boat. My brother found her on the side of the road when she was a puppy. When I got her I started to think of what her possible mix was. Through discussions with dog park people and others, coydog came up. I have done much research and there are several reasons which make me almost certain that Angel is some sort of coyote mix.
She is the right size and shape for a coyote. The notable dog parts are the nose and ears. However her body and tail are coyote looking. She is tall, 21" at the shoulder, and only 38 lbs. This is a very strange combination for a dog but is just about the perfect size for a coyote.
She howls more then she barks. which would suggest she is either part coyote or a dog closely related to a wolf, but she strikes me and almost anyone who sees her as having nothing similar to a husky or german sheperd , except the tail.
Being found in the wild, and healthy which is rare, also leads to thic conclusion. She is now 15, and there is nothing wrong with her. She is in perfect health. Coyote life expectancies are 15 years or more in the wild, and I imagine that domesticated coydogs could get that gene from either parent and would live longer in a home protected from the elements and with good healthcare and exercise.
As far as behavior, Angel is a gentle old lady, but very active, she seems to have some herding dog behavior. She is also very protective of me. If a fight breaks out at the dog park she comes to sit at my side, and reacts only if the fight reaches us. She neverr lets dogs mount her or play box with her, she reacts to over agression with an agressive display of her face that usually keeps them from trying the same thing again. But generally she is happy to just follow other dogs around and always keep moving (herder? coyote?)
Despite being fifteen she is always energetic. For example at the dog park on a hot and sunny day, when even one year olds lay down in the shade, she doesn't, she keeps on jogging and entertaining herself for the entire time we're there. Other people that see this are always impressed by this.
I did research on the difference between the tracks and gait of dogs and coyotes, what you would use to tell if there was in your backyard or if you were hunting. Here are two websites with info on this
http://www.naturepark.com/coyinfo.htm
http://www.gpnc.org/tracks.htm
I can assure you that everything in her foot print is coyote like. Her front paw is bigger then the back. She leaves only two sets of prints (she places her back paw into the print of front paw). Even her pad shapes and width of paw (space between pads and claws) say coyote. This is the best scientific test I can afford. I saw that someone was offering to sponsor a genetic test, and I would take them up on that as long as it was done properly.
Posted by Julie  in  Washington DC  on  Sat Jun 04, 2005  at  02:36 PM
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