Coyote hybrids are defined as follows : Any dog or wolf that concurrently possesses the DNA of a coyote resulting in either a coy-wolf or coy-dog hybrid. Furthermore, any coyote also possessing wolf or dog DNA is presumed a coy-wolf or coy-dog hybrid.
Can and do coyote hybrids exist?
Yes, Coyotes are capable with interbreeding with both dogs and wolves, resulting in fertile offspring.
As for existing, coy-wolf hybrids are more common than coy-dog hybrids. Coy-wolves are what exists in the majority of the wild “coyote” population of the Northeastern United States as observed by Dr. Jonathon Way of Massechusettes. Due to a dwindling population of Red Wolves and limited mate availability, the theory is that because of extenuating circumstances, coyotes and wolves of that area interbred to further the reproduction of their species. Out West, however, Gray Wolves and Coyotes very rarely interbreed because mate availability is not at critical lows for either species and behaviorally, they are different enough to prevent most pair bonds.
Coy-dogs, however, are more the product of sensationalist media hype and assumption , than actual fact. The exaggerated claims of coy-dogs running rampant throughout the countryside far outweigh their existence in reality. Unless purposefully bred with the intent of creating hybrids by humans, their existence in the wild is rather limited.
What prevents a coyote from breeding with a dog in the wild?
The answer to this question is both simple and complex. To put it simply, what stops coy-dog hybrids from existing in the wild is Behavior. The complexity surrounding these behaviors, however, is enough to write several books and hasn’t been, until recently, readily available to the public. Please continuing reading below for the highlighted differences in behavior and how those behaviors have prevented the mass spreading of coy-dog hybrids across the United States.
It is fairly well known that male dogs are fertile year round while females come into estrus twice a year. With this is mind, a male dog is ready to copulate with any available female in estrus, regardless of the time of year.
Coyotes, on the other hand, are only fertile once a year(Both males and females). Because of this, copulation and courtship behaviors differ greatly from that of a domestic dog. Because they only mate once a year, a coyote would have to find a dog fertile at the exact same time as they are to mimic proper breeding behaviors, which in itself, isn’t very likely.
2) Mate Selection:
Domestic Dogs are frequently known to have several companions throughout a lifetime. Not usually known for their monogomy, one male may attend several females depending on availability. Domestic dogs, especially the males, are not often documented as sharing equal parenting duties.
Coyotes, however, are very selective in choosing a mate. In the wild, pair bonding frequently lasts for life, and if not life, many consecutive years. Coyotes are fairly monogamous in nature as the female depends greatly on their mates to provide for them and their puppies. Furthermore, breeding and courtship behaviors differ greatly enough to account for the lack of probability that the dogs would “understand” the majority of courtship behaviors that take place and are “required” during mate selection.
Because of the very specific needs of a female coyote, it is very unlikely she would choose a male domesticated dog as a mate, as it is not bred in them as a species to continue providing for the female and help in rearing young, whereas a male coyote will take on equal responsibilities with the female.
3) Raising Puppies:
While female domestic dogs tend to be caring parents, the male is rarely a permanent figure in the rearing of the litter. More often than not, a male dog will have no role in caring for puppies, nor the continued well-being of the female.
Coyotes, because they rely on each other for shared parental responsibilities is another reason they are not likely to mate in the wild with a dog.
For example: A female coyote will not leave the den for the first two weeks of her puppies’ lives, depending on the male to bring her food during that time to continue a healthy level of nutrition to feed her pups. The male will bring the food to the mouth of the den, but he will not enter. Since Dogs do not share this behavior, if a coyote were to mate with one, she would likely die inside the den along with her puppies. Additionally, with these differences in behavior, any puppies born through a union with a female coyote and a dog would likely not survive past their first 2 weeks.
Any hybrid puppies that did survive their first two weeks, would likely not make it through their first breeding season. Living in the wild, likely being fertile twice a year, they would not be well equipped to exhibit or comprehend the breeding behaviors of their pure coyote counterparts, quite probably leading to early death.
Coyote hybrids as pets?
Unfortunately, some states, including Indiana, do not have overly restrictive laws concerning hybrids and pet ownership. Because of this, hundred of “hybrids”, whether they be coyote or wolf hybrids, are surrendered to rescues or euthanized by authorities each year…just in Indiana alone. So can someone have a coyote hybrid as a pet? Depending on the state, legally, yes. But, one should be aware that the technical definition does not overrule the fact that coyotes are wild animals, and as such, any hybrid can and likely will exhibit many of their wild behaviors, not making them successful candidates as pets for most households.
Coyote hybrids are more unstable, and therefore more dangerous, than their wild counterparts due to their unpredictable behaviors. One will not know when they will exhibit dog behavior or coyote behavior at any given time. Because of this, and an overall lack of knowledge on coyote behavior, many people get injured by these animals which are then surrendered to a facility such as ours. It is frequently assumed that as long as a coyote has some dog genetics, they will have a dog that looks like a coyote. This is very rarely the case. Any hybrid 50% and above coyote content, are likely going to be very difficult animals to deal with and possibly very dangerous to people, especially children who are unable to comprehend the delicacy of animal behavioral analysis.