Coydog (Canid Hybrid)

Height: 18-27 inches*
Weight: 55-100+ pounds*
Lifespan: ~10 years
Colors: Sable and similar colorations with “coyote” markings, depends on the dog parent
Suitable for: Experienced dog handlers, spacious homes with fenced-in yards
Not Suitable for: Families with children, first-time dog handlers, inexperienced dog handlers, apartment living, locations where coydogs are illegal to own
Temperament: Reserved, alert, intelligent, agile, self-aware, strong-willed, unpredictable

(*Depends on the size of the dog parent)

There are many breed mixes that may raise some eyebrows, especially designer dog breeds created with rare and unusual dog breeds. From Bernedoodles to Mastadors, the list of hybrid dog breeds goes on. However, the latest trend in dog breeding hasn’t been with Canis Familiaris, the scientific name for the domesticated dog, but with canid hybrids. Canids are canine-like animals that are related to the happy canines we call pets, which include wolves, foxes, and coyotes. The most recent trend in breeding “true hybrids” is with the Coydog, which is the result of a male coyote breeding with a female domesticated dog. Coydogs are adorable as puppies and the demand for them has been increasing, yet many end up in shelters and rescues by the time they’re fully grown. Let’s take a closer look at Coydogs to see what it takes to handle one correctly:

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Coydog Puppies – Before You Buy…

Energy
Trainability
Health
Lifespan
Sociability

What’s the Price of Coydog Puppies?

Coydogs are often the result of an unfixed female domesticated dog attracting male coyotes during mating season. Except for a select few breeders, most Coydogs are either the result of accidental breeding of an unfixed female or through backyard breeding. Backyard breeding is extremely dangerous when dealing with any kind of dog or canine hybrid due to the lack of focus on genetics and temperament, but this can’t be said enough about Coydogs. We do not recommend buying a Coydog from any backyard breeder or “accident”, especially if the domesticated dog parent has behavioral issues.

If you do manage to find a “real” Coydog breeder that has years of experience with hybrids, expect to pay a pretty penny for one. You may end up spending more or less than $1,000 but be very suspicious of prices lower than $500. Professional Coydog breeders will have some documents on the female dog and any health records of the litters.

NOTE: Not all states will allow people to own Coydog. Check the legal status of owning canine hybrids before investing in a Coydog.

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3 Little-Known Facts About Coydogs

1. Coydogs are always a cross between a male coyote and a female dog.

Coydogs are always the result of a male coyote and a female dog, resulting in the adorable Coydog. One reason is that it’s much, much easier to take care of a pregnant female dog than a female coyote. Another reason is that female coyotes generally do not accept male unfixed dogs, so it’s extremely rare for a Coydog to come from a male dog and female coyote.

2. Coydogs are often confused for Wolfdogs or Coywolves.

Coydogs are often confused and misidentified, often mistaken for the larger wolfdog or coywolf. All three are considered canid hybrids, with coydogs being the smallest of the three. Some coydogs may be mistaken for being pure coyotes, depending on the dog parent’s coat type, coloration, and overall size.

3. Coydogs are not legal to own in some states.

While each state has its own laws about animals and ownership, coydogs are not legal to own in some states. Before buying or rescuing a coydog, it’s extremely important to check the legality of owning a canid hybrid. Between the legal issues and the expense, buying a Coydog is not always a great idea.

Parents of Coydog
The parent breeds of the Coydog | Left: Medium dog, Right: Coyote

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Temperament & Intelligence of the Coydog

The most important thing about Coydogs is understanding that they’re not domesticated dogs, but actual canid hybrids. This means that things like temperament, intelligence, and aggression levels can vary wildly with Coydogs, especially with certain dog breeds. It takes a true understanding of canine and canid behavior to handle Coydogs, especially ones with strong Coyote instincts.

Coydogs vary a lot with temperament, making it hard to prepare for one. One Coydog ay docile enough to be around people, but another may be people aggressive and unsafe for strangers to be around. Most Coydogs are usually wary of strangers in general, though some may be more accepting of new people. However, it’s usually best to keep unfamiliar people at a distance since many Coydogs fall back on their territorial instincts, which can lead to aggression or even biting. While early socialization may help, the more aggressive or “Coyote-like” Coydogs simply cannot be around other people without being a liability.

Temperaments aside, Coydogs can be quite smart, especially if mixed with highly intelligent breeds. They enjoy using their senses to roam around their territory, so a fenced-in yard is an absolute requirement to prevent wanderlust. They can be highly trainable, depending on the breed(s) of the parent dog. However, training Coydogs is less about obedience and more about canid behavior. These hybrids are not motivated in the same ways as domesticated dogs are, so it’s crucial that any Coydog handler is experienced in dog and canid behaviors.

Coydogs can be as “normal” as domesticated dogs and not all Coydogs are outright aggressive, but the majority are simply too much for most people. They often rely on their coyote-inherited instincts, which can be extremely tough to recognize. These canine-like carnivores will sense any kind of weakness and are often extremely hard to handle, so they’re often abandoned or dumped at a shelter by unprepared owners. Because of how difficult they are to own, the decision of getting a Coydog is not one to take lightly.

Are These Dogs Good for Families? 👪

No. Coydogs are unpredictable, even if they seem calm and docile. They do not do well with teasing, so they’re not suitable for little children. Coydogs can be playful but often don’t know their own strength, so even older, calmer children can be at risk.

Does This Breed Get Along with Other Pets?

Dogs: Generally, no, but each Coydog is vastly different. Coyotes in the wild do not like dogs, so it’s surprising that they’ll occasionally mate with a female dog. If you’re planning on having more than one dog, Coydogs are better off being raised with another dog or Coydog. Some Coydogs are perfectly fine entering an established home with other dogs, but others eventually develop dog aggression. Some Coydogs will not accept “new” dogs into their pack, so your Coydog should be the last addition to your pet family.

Cats and Small Animals: No. Coyotes have been known for hunting domesticated cats and will easily chase small animals. Mixing cats and small animals with Coydogs is asking for an unfortunate accident, so it’s best to avoid having them in the same house.

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Things to Know When Owning a Coydog:

Food & Diet Requirements 🦴

Coydogs have more specific dietary needs than normal dogs, which is why they end up being way more expensive. Coydogs may survive off of dry dog kibble, but they truly thrive off of a raw meat diet. A kibble designed for high-energy dogs or working dogs will serve as a good base, but raw beef, chicken, and other animal meats should be the main source of food. We highly recommend consulting with a vet experienced in canids and canines for a more detailed diet plan for your Coydog.

Exercise 🐕

Coydogs have varying levels of energy, but they’re usually on par with working dogs. At a minimum, a few long-distance walks and a couple of hours of off-leash running in an enclosed area is a good starting point. However, most Coydogs will need more than a few walks around the block to burn off steam. If your Coydog is great with training and feels confident in your leadership, consider trying at-home agility to help exercise and develop the muscles a pure coyote would have in the wild. While almost all agility and canine sports competitions ban canid hybrids, doing agility at home can be a great bonding experience.

Mental stimulation could be considered as more important for Coydogs, which is why it’s crucial to understand canid behaviors. There are many ways to challenge your Coydog, though some may not be interested in easy challenges like puzzle toys. Games like “Track the Toy” and Hide-n-Seek can encourage your Coydog to use its senses, which in turn helps exercise their minds.

Training 🎾

Training your Coydog needs to start immediately to establish your role as the leader. These are not domesticated dogs, and some will behave more like coyotes than dogs, so understanding how coyotes and canids work is essential to your safety. If you’ve never handled any canid or hybrid animal before, we highly recommend hiring a dog behavioral specialist to help train your Coydog. Though they’re smart and can be trainable, some Coydogs will sense weakness and refuse to listen. The last thing you want is a smart Coydog that doesn’t respect your role as the leader.

While group puppy classes for basic obedience may sound like a great idea, most facilities will not accept Coydogs or other hybrids. This can make it difficult to socialize early, especially for Coydogs that are wary of other dogs as puppies. In this case, the best way to socialize is with other dogs while your Coydog is still a puppy but should only be done under direct supervision.

Grooming ✂️

Coydogs usually develop a “hybrid coat” that has both coyote and dog qualities. They’re usually double-coated like coyotes, which are fluffy and somewhat soft to the touch. Although coyotes don’t get brushed in the wild, brushing out your Coydog once in a while will get rid of any matting and help reduce shedding. Giving your Coydog a bath once a month is fine to help reduce any coat odors or stains, but it’s important not to over-bathe and dry out the skin. In addition to brushing and bathing, your Coydog’s claws will need to be trimmed on an as-needed basis, usually every 4 to 5 weeks.

Health and Conditions 🏥

Since Coydogs are mixed with domesticated dogs, it’s hard to tell what kind of health problems your Coydog may face. Depending on the dog parent’s breed, your Coydog may have little health issues or be prone to more serious health conditions. Here are the common health conditions of Cotoyes and the average large breed of domesticated dog:

Common Health Conditions of Coyotes
  • Canine Parvo
  • Canine Distemper
  • Mange
  • Heartworm
  • Hydatid Disease (Tapeworm)
  • Rabies
Common Health Conditions of Medium/Large Dogs
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Cancer
  • Bloat/Gastric Dilatation Volvulus
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Obesity
  • Arthritis

The health conditions between dogs and coyotes are quite different, with coyotes’ health conditions more similar to wild animals. Thankfully, diseases like parvo, rabies, and heartworm can be prevented. There are minor and more serious conditions that medium and large-sized domesticated dogs are prone to as well, with bloat and Hip Dysplasia being the most serious. However, the conditions listed are only the most common, so your Coydog may be prone to other less common conditions.

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Male vs Female

Normally, the choice between male and female is a personal matter. However, since Coydogs are different than domesticated dogs, this choice is an important one to make. Male Coydogs are almost always bigger and stronger than female Coydogs. Males may be slightly harder to train than females, but some say there is no difference. While it is mostly preference, the choice between a male or female Coydog is not as easy to make as with domesticated dogs.

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Final Thoughts

With many new designer dog breeds coming out each year, it’s no surprise that canid hybrids like Coydogs are growing in demand. They’re especially adorable as puppies, which is why so many people want one. However, Coydogs are part-wild animals and can be a serious mistake for the inexperienced dog handler. They can be great pets with no behavioral issues, but there are so many risks involved in owning a hybrid. Along with the possible coyote-like behavior, territorial instincts, and possible aggression, Coydogs are always legal to own. If you have extensive knowledge of canine behavior along with the time and space to own one, Coydogs can adapt to domestic living. However, they’re simply too wild for most people to handle and end up having to be rescued years later.


Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons