Coyotes are canines that share many similarities with other canids, such as wolves, foxes, and dogs. The coyote is very resilient and has managed to grow its numbers despite being targeted by wildlife management programs.
In this guide, we’re going to explain how coyotes are related to dogs and wolves, and how they all have dominated the woods and forests for many years.
Are Coyotes Dogs?
Coyotes are dogs in the sense that they are from the dog family (Canidae.) However, they are a different species and coyotes have very different behavior patterns than domestic dogs. Coyotes and dogs share some similarities, such as size, visual description, and diet.
Many people can get coyotes and dogs confused, this is especially true in areas where there are a lot of transient dogs that roam around. Homeless dogs become shaggy and can resemble coyotes, and vice versa.
Now that you know a thing or two about coyotes and dogs, let’s see what makes coyotes part of the dog family.
What Are Coyotes a Mix Of?
Coyotes are a mix of different canine genetics. In fact, the word canine means “dog” or “relating to or resembling dogs.” There are two main types of coyotes, eastern coyotes, and western coyotes.
The common coyote has a mix of wolf and domestic dogs. Coyote fossils have been dated at almost a million years old. They were originally part of a clade that included domestic dogs and wolves.
Eastern coyotes are a canine hybrid of wolves and coyotes. The ancestors of these coyotes mated with wolves a very long time ago. Because of this, the behavior of the eastern coyote is a little different than the coyote of the west.
Wolves are thought to be a little more clever than coyotes, and when the two crossbred to create eastern coyotes, these coyotes got a little of that added extra intelligence.
Do Coyotes Act Like Dogs?
Many canines share some of the same traits. Coyotes can act like dogs on occasion, but the truth is, they are wild animals and they operate very differently than a domestic dog does.
Coyotes have to deal with other predators, they must defend territories and hunt every single day to feed themselves. They do groom themselves in a way similar to dogs, and their physiology is very similar to domestic dogs.
Do not expect a coyote to act like a dog, they can be very vicious and do not like humans or contact by humans. You should never approach a coyote or attempt to pet it. You should also not feed coyotes, this can cause them to trust humans enough to start invading urban territory, which can be bad for pets and property damage.
Coyote and Dogs Similarities
Here are a few of the similarities that coyotes and dogs both possess. These traits are very indictive of most canines.
Coyotes and dogs look similar. Both coyotes and dogs share many of the same looks. This can make it hard to identify a coyote. However, there are things you can look for, like a black-tipped tail and more aggressive behavior from a coyote.
They communicate in similar ways. Canines use many forms of communication, from scent marking to tail communication. Both coyotes and dogs use these forms of communication, although it is more common in wild animals.
They have the same dietary needs. Domesticated dogs might have it made with their pet food. At least from the standpoint of not having to kill their own prey. However, even dog food is formulated for a carnivore and omnivore diet, which coyotes also have.
Coyotes and Dogs Differences
Now that you know what they have in common, let’s take a look at some of the differences between the two.
Coyotes are wild animals that are not domesticated. This is one of the biggest differences between them. Coyotes have not been domesticated and exhibit wild behavior. Because of this, they are not safe to be around the way dogs are.
Coyote tracks have thin/longer toes than dogs. You can tell the difference between coyote tracks and dog tracks by the fact that the toes are fatter on dogs than on coyotes. This can make it easy to identify coyotes on your property.
Coyotes have a sleek appearance. Dogs are not as sleek as coyotes. Coyotes are usually more skinny than dogs because they do not get fed as regularly as dogs do. They also appear to have longer legs because a dog’s chest is deeper.
Can Coyotes Bark?
Yes, coyotes have been known to bark. Many canids use barking as a form of communication, they may not bark as much as domestic dogs, but they all do it in some form. Coyotes are generally more high-pitched sounding, while most “dog barks” are heavy and deep.
Barking can mean many different things. Canines and coyotes bark when they are alerted to danger, and they can bark when they are upset at a partner. Coyotes will also bark to warn others in the pack of danger.
Do Coyotes Hunt Dogs?
Coyotes do not hunt dogs. They feed mostly on small mammals, such as rodents and rabbits. However, if a coyote is suffering from starvation it will kill a dog or a housepet. They are opportunistic and will also feed on the roadkill of dogs and pets.
You should bring your dogs and pets inside if you are worried that there could be a coyote nearby, or one stalking your property. You should also avoid leaving out food.
Are Coyotes Smarter Than Dogs?
Some studies suggest that coyotes have evolved to be smarter than dogs. This is because of their breeding with wolves, who are canids that possess higher intelligence than domestic dogs and other wild canids. Source.
See our article for Are Coyotes Smart?
Are Coyotes Scared of Dogs?
Yes, coyotes can be scared of large dogs. Dogs that are larger than a coyote, can be a very effective way to scare off coyotes. Guardian animals, such as guard dogs, and farm dogs, have been used for centuries to ward off predators such as coyotes.
Many dog breeds are bigger than coyotes, they bark louder, and can be very intimidating to a wild dog like a coyote. German shepherds and sheepdogs are great guardian dogs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, coyotes are related to wolves. Some coyotes, such as eastern coyotes, crossed with wolves and because of that, they share some of their intelligence, making coyotes very smart.
No, coyotes are wild animals and cannot be a dog. Dogs have been domesticated for a very long time. Coyotes, while they are in the dog family, are not the same as domesticated dogs and are very wild.
Yes, coyotes are a type of wild dog. They are one of the most recognizable wild dogs in North America, next to foxes. Wild canids thrive in many different regions and landscapes.
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