So, I’m doing two posts with a story about Leroy this week. That’s probably because out of my two Boxers, he seems to be the one that is always doing funny things or getting into trouble of one sort or another. He’s a good dog, but I’m sure that if there are gods up there who are saying “We’re bored, and wouldn’t it be fun right about now to mess with Ash,” they target me by means of Leroy.
So, here’s what the doofus did the other day.
Regular readers know that I breed Boxers. So, logically, my dogs are intact reproductively. And I would like them to interact, ideally, with other Boxers, or at the very least, with other dogs. That’s the first thing you need to know.
The second thing you need to know is that I have coyotes that hang around my property. We kind of co-exist, the coyotes and I. They don’t bother me, and I don’t bother them. I put up with a bit of yipping at night, but I’ve gotten so used to it that I can usually sleep right through their nocturnal songs. Usually I just hear them and tolerate them, but don’t see them.
Then, a couple of days ago, Leroy wanted to go out. Janice chose to stay inside with me while I enjoyed a cup of coffee and a bagel with cream cheese and strawberry jam for breakfast. Then, I heard yipping from the yard. Coyotes this close? No, not possible.
But then, when I opened up the door, there was Leroy, with a stupid smile on his face, mounting what I have to say was a very pretty coyote. How she got inside the fence, I don’t know. Why she couldn’t find one of her own kind to mate with, I don’t know. Why I just stood there slack-jawed and amazed, I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that they were obviously fully locked, and there was no point in even trying to pull them apart.
I said to myself, “Oh crap. Canid hybrids?” See, I was about 99.9% sure that a dog/coyote breeding would be successful. Hoping against hope, though, I started Googling only to discover that, too bad, so sad, crap happens, my Leroy had probably gotten that slut from the wrong side of the tracks pregnant.
Well, it is what it is, I guess. Probably in 63 days, that horrible thing that led my good boy astray will give birth to Boxerotes. Or CoyBoxers. Or something like that. She’s not our kind! You try to raise them right and then…
Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to rant.
Anyway, to get back to the point, dogs and coyotes can mate. And do. As if I ever thought they couldn’t. Dammit, Leroy!
But then I got wondering, what about dogs and other types of canine copulations? What works and what doesn’t? Are some breedings successful and others not? What dog-like creatures can breed with other dog-like creatures? And what matings won’t work?
The dog family is wide and diverse. Some members can interbreed, but others cannot. As an example, most of the time jackals cannot interbreed with foxes. At least that’s the conventional wisdom – no one has ever proven that such a mating has never occurred, but most scientists believe that if it did, the offspring would be sterile (much in the same way as a breeding between a horse and a donkey produces mules, which cannot reproduce).
Some canid copulations, though, do work to produce offspring that are fertile. They are usually, though, among closely related animals – the black-backed jackal and the side-striped jackal, for instance. They can reproduce with one another, but not with other canids.
Why is this? Well, it’s because of genetics. The reason why some canid copulations work and others do not goes back about four million years, and it all has to do with how many chromosomes the various canids have in common. The side-striped jackal and the black-backed jackal can interbreed because they have virtually identical chromosomes. Other canids may be less related – for instance, the raccoon dog has 42 chromosomes while the red fox has 38, so they will not successfully interbreed.
Before we go any further in our discussion of hybridizing and interbreeding, let’s take a look at the legal implications. I talked about this in some detail in Wolves and Wolf Hybrids as Pets. There are any number of people who will tell you that these animals make wonderful pets. I am not one of them and I never will be. Breeding domestic dogs to wolves is going to give you nothing but heartbreak, an inability to get homeowner’s insurance, and possibly lawsuits when the animal’s true nature comes to the fore and it kills another pet or attacks a human.
You indisputably can breed dogs with wolves, but if you do, pardon me – you’re an idiot.
Dingos will breed freely with domestic dogs, and they will do so frequently enough that it is becoming a problem in areas where dingos are prevalent. Some of these animals are bred as pets, and then, as is the case with wolf-dog hybrids, they end up being turned out into the wild once they become unmanageable. Of course these animals don’t fit in anywhere – turned out, they lack the protection they expected from their humans, and the pure, wild dingos don’t want them. They end up being killed by pure dingos.
Now we’re getting into “jackalope” and “cabbit” territory – you know, those supposed creatures that result from breedings between jackrabbits and antelopes, or antelopes and rabbits respectively.
There are no reliable reports whatsoever that have ever proven the theory that foxes can breed with dogs. There have been reports of dogs that resemble a fox/dog hybrid, but you really can’t make that determination based on an animals looks. DNA testing on such animals has always indicated that there has been no cross-breeding.
See above. Thanks, Leroy.
Genetically, there are no differences between coyotes and domestic dogs, so yes, breedings can most definitely occur that will result in what is commonly known as “coydogs.” Interbreeding isn’t all that common, because the heat cycles usually take place at different times, but it can occur.
The reason that these breedings don’t occur more often is that coyotes are typically not all that sociable – they don’t want to come and visit domestic dogs. I’m not sure what brought Leroy’s girlfriend into our yard – she was beautiful and appeared to be healthy, so why would she not have been able to find one of her own kind to mate with? Whatever the reason, though, a breeding did occur.
Will I ever see the puppies? Probably not. If I did, would they ever make good pets? Again, probably not, unless they could be socialized very early on. I often wonder what will become of Leroy’s babies, and I very much wish that the breeding had not occurred.
I realize that I am going a bit outside the issues of domestic dogs here, but since we ended up going down this slope in the first place, let’s talk about coyotes and wolves. This is definitely a breeding that will work. All wolves carry coyote genes, and all coyotes carry wolf genes. And as we continue to destroy the habitat of both these animals, it only makes sense to think that as their habitats collide, they will interbreed. In fact, there has been so much interbreeding between the two species that there may come a point where they are virtually indistinguishable.
This is not something that we have to think about in America, but in other countries, wolves and jackals can interbreed, and their offspring will be fertile. Jackals can also be crossed with domestic dogs. In fact, in ancient times, the pharaohs used to cross jackals with domestic dogs in an attempt to create a dog that resembled the jackal-god, Anubis.
In the late 1800s, Charles Darwin wrote about dogs and jackals mating. He stated that such breedings could not be successful as the offspring were sterile, but also noted that the female did not come into estrus properly. Darwin was probably wrong, though, given the other instances of successful matings between dogs and jackals.
This is a question that seems to come up all the time. Since dogs and foxes are both canids, copulation leading to successful breeding would seem to be logical, but the fact is that it has never been known to happen.
One thing that I can tell you is that my grandmother used to breed foxes. She also invariably kept dogs. And even in the absence of a male fox to service a female, none of her dogs ever showed the slightest interest in a vixen, nor a vixen in any of her dogs. I’m not sure that I’m right about this, but I’m just saying that from my perspective, I don’t think interbreeding between dogs and foxes is likely.
Do dogs breed with other animals? Yes, indisputably. And because of that, I am grounding Leroy. When they do, though, it will be with other animals in the canid family that are very closely related. So you might end up with a coydog, but not a dogalope. Either way, these types of breedings are undesirable. You want a DOG, not an unstable mix. I’m sorry, but if you think that it makes you “all that” if you can tell people that you have a dingo mix, or a wolf mix, or a coyote mix, you are a jerk. And if you tell people that your pet is a cross between a fox and a dog, you are a deluded moron. That’s about it from where I sit.