Taylor A Ritz
Just as the name suggests, a Coydog is the product of a coyote and a domestic dog. Since these two canids are different species (Canis latrans and Canis lupis familiaris), the Coydog can be considered a canid hybrid.
Coydogs exhibit a mixture of characteristics from each parent, but the crossbreeding has been occurring for so long that the exact percentages of the wild hybrids are unknown.
The Coydog is a mixture that produces a canid hybrid similar to a wolf. Canids such as dogs, coyotes, and jackals are described as “wolf-like.” Any wolf-like species is capable of interbreeding with one another. This is how canid hybrids like the Coydog occur.
Coydogs are sometimes confused with Coywolves, which blend the coyote with the wolf. Coywolves are more common than Coydogs. In fact, most North American gray wolf populations have at least some coyote genetics in their gene pool.
Coydogs are not very common in the wild. So why do Coywolves happen to be more common than the Coydog? There are a couple of reasons.
One important factor is that the mating seasons of dogs and coyotes don’t occur at the same time. Coyotes’ short mating season occurs during the winter while dogs’ true mating season is in the spring. That said, domestic dogs’ interaction with humans has altered their mating “season” because dogs, as a species, can reproduce year-round.
A bigger issue with dogs and coyotes reproducing is that coyotes don’t get along with dogs nearly as easily as wolves do. The coyote-dog hybridization occurs mainly when coyotes expand into new areas where they are unable to find coyote mates, so they breed with dogs instead.
Dogs and coyotes do not form pair bonds as they would with their own kind, so only the mother cares for the resulting litter. This leads to lower survival rates for Coydog puppies.
The appearance of a Coydog can vary depending on the breed of the dog parent. In general, Coydogs are athletic and strong. They are medium to large in size, often with triangular, upright ears and a long muzzle. These hybrids can both howl like coyotes and bark like dogs.
A Coydog’s eyes are generally brown, and the tail is bushy and points downwards. Coydogs typically maintain the dense coat and sable coloration of the coyote parent, but can also be white, brown, or black.
These hybrids can weigh anywhere between 60 and 120 pounds and typically stand between 22 and 28 inches at the shoulder.
Many hybrids, such as a mule (a horse and donkey hybrid) or a liger (a lion and tiger hybrid) produce sterile offspring. This means the resulting hybrid cannot produce babies with either parent species or another hybrid. Coydogs, on the other hand, are perfectly capable of reproducing.
Evidence shows that coyote-dog hybrids have been occurring since long before Europeans colonized North America. In Mexico, human populations such as the one in Teotihuacan intentionally created Coydogs. These people revered the coyote, and so bred them with domestic dogs in order to produce guardian animals that were fierce and loyal but also temperamental.
Likewise, peoples in northern Canada also bred Coydogs. They wanted hardier canines to pull their sleds. This practice continued well into the 20th century.
Coydog temperaments can vary greatly. They may be docile and manageable like their domestic dog parent, but will often exhibit some degree of the wild and mischievous behavior of the coyote parent. Coydogs are highly unpredictable and should only be cared for by those who understand them well; these are not dogs for a first-time dog owner.
Coydogs can be shy and timid, gentle and friendly, or fearful and aggressive. If someone adopts a Coydog, they are usually a one-person pet, bonding strongly to only one individual. There have been some cases, however, of a Coydog being socialized and trained from a young age to become a loving member of the family.
Coydogs are at least half “wild” animal. They are energetic and agile, inheriting their high levels of energy and endurance from the coyote parent that needs to hunt to survive. Coydogs need strict, daily exercise schedules to make sure they burn off all that excess energy.
Rigorous activities such as brisk walking, jogging, high-intensity playtime, or long hikes are all examples of good activities to tire out a Coydog. A tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Dogs, especially breeds as energetic as Coydogs, that are not given adequate exercise will resort to undesirable and even destructive behaviors.
Coydogs are hardy, like their wild ancestors, strong and fit for survival in the wilderness. They have very few health issues to expect.
The life expectancy of a Coydog is highly variable and can be anywhere from 5 to 15 years. Much of this, of course, depends on if they are being cared for by humans or surviving in the wild.
Coydogs are not very high maintenance when it comes to grooming. Though their needs depend on coat type and the breed of the dog parent, they likely only need to be brushed when necessary and groomed even less often.
Despite their need for regular coat maintenance, you should still check them over for signs of skin irritations or allergies. Trimming their nails regularly, perhaps once a month, is recommended.
While they are undoubtedly beautiful, Coydogs are also unpredictable, wild, and potentially dangerous. No one should aspire to adopt a Coydog unless they are highly trained and confident in their ability to manage a wild animal.
If someone has their heart set on a canine companion that resembles the domestic dog’s wild cousins, but is a safer choice, they might opt for a breed such as a German Shepherd, Siberian Husky, or Alaskan Malamute to satisfy that desire.
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