Both foxes and dogs are members of the large Canidae family. They share some similar traits, such as pointed ears, hairy tails, and slender legs. But does it automatically mean that they can breed with one another?
Can foxes breed with dogs? Foxes cannot breed with dogs. While it is true that foxes and dogs are both canids, they still have a different number of chromosomes. Dogs have 78 chromosomes, while the red fox has 34. Biologically speaking, they are not compatible with producing any offspring.
Foxes and dogs still have other nuances that make them innately different from one another. Aside from that, there is still the pressing matter of whether or not foxes can breed with domesticated dogs. Continue reading to learn more.
Table of Contents
Do Any Dogs Come From Foxes?
Foxes and dogs belong to the Canidae family, together with wolves, coyotes, and other extant species. Because they have some similar physical attributes, many people think that dogs came from foxes or vice versa. But that’s not really the case.
Under the Canidae family are the tribes of Canini (dogs) and Vulpini (foxes). These two groups have been separated from one another for more than 14 million years. Throughout that span of time, foxes remained in the wild, while dogs underwent domestication and socialization with humans.
There are extensive studies about the domestication and evolution of dogs. It has been found out that the common ancestor of the domestic dog is the gray wolf. Roughly 30,000 to 50,000 years ago, gray wolves had targeted many nomadic human settlements for food and nourishment. This particular lifestyle soon overhauled the habit and behavior of these gray wolves, making them “proto-dogs” (or the pioneer dogs).
In a nutshell, humans were the ones that have domesticated the gray wolf to become the dogs that exist now. They did not come from foxes. The archaeological discovery of the Bonn-Oberkassel dog buried with other human remains in Germany places dogs thousands of years back. Through isotopic and genetic analysis, it has been found out that domesticated dogs already roamed the Earth some 14,200 years ago.
Are Foxes and Dogs Part of the Canidae Family?
As mentioned earlier, foxes and dogs do belong to the Canidae family. But their ancestry is already diverged, making them incompatible with breeding.
As part of the Canidae family, dogs and foxes have an exceptionally good sense of smell. Specifically, they utilize their noses to hunt for food, look for other animals, assess competitors, and detect lurking predators.
How Foxes and Dogs Are Different?
Just because foxes and dogs belong to the same family doesn’t mean that they all possess similar traits. Below are their differences:
- One of their striking differences is their lineage. Dogs belong to the Canis genus, while foxes are members of the genus Vulpes.
- Furthermore, the lifespan of dogs and foxes has a considerable gap. Foxes only have an average lifespan of 2 to 4 years, while dogs can live as long as 13 years. However, pet owners claimed that foxes in captivity could have a lifespan of up to 14 years.
- Because dogs are domesticated, training them is a lot easier. It is one of the reasons why humans love to keep them as pets, companions, and even guards. Foxes, on the other hand, are quite difficult to train. After all, they are inherently wild animals that don’t have a long attention span. It is also unbearable to keep these foxes inside your house because they like to mark or pee, similar to dogs. The real problem is that the smell of their urine is extremely pungent!
- Dogs are also social creatures. They like to stay in groups and socialize with other animals and humans. On the flip side, foxes are shy beings. They like to be aloof. They can hang around with their family, but they shy away when there are strangers. Sometimes, this introversion can cause them to be aggressive.
- There’s also a difference in their size and body structure. Foxes are generally smaller than dogs. Usually, they have bushy tails and small snouts.
Can You Keep a Fox as a Pet?
Despite being wild creatures, foxes are undeniably fancy and cute creatures. Hence, many are indeed tempted to keep them as pets. Fortunately, you can keep a fox as your pet. There are sixteen states in America where you can keep foxes as pets. These areas include Florida, Kentucky, New York, South Dakota, and Wyoming.
Keep in mind that there’s a lot of caveats when it comes to domesticating foxes. They are born in the wild, which makes them extremely difficult to train. Aside from that, they are smelly and nippy. They tend to cause a ruckus, especially if there are other pets inside your house.
If you plan to make one as a pet, make sure that you have a separate enclosure so that your property will not get destroyed. Their musky and pungent body scent is another reason why you need to separate them from your living spaces. Don’t try to bathe foxes either; their smell won’t change after that.
Are Fox Dog Hybrids Real?
Claims about the existence of fox dog hybrids have been floating for quite some time already. However, there’s no scientific proof or evidence (such as archaeological findings) that they are real.
The reason why fox dog hybrids aren’t real is because of the difference in their chromosome count. As mentioned earlier, dogs and foxes separated their lineage some 14 million years ago. It caused a disparity in their evolution, which resulted in the difference in their gene composition. They don’t have the same number of chromosomes, which prevents them from giving birth to a fox dog hybrid.
Canine hybrids are real, though. They frequently take place in the wild and usually involve native and feral canids. Examples of these are coywolves, dingo hybrids, and jackal hybrids. But when it comes to foxes and dogs, that’s just outside the realms of possibility.
Are Chihuahuas Related to Fennec Foxes?
Chihuahuas and fennec foxes have uncanny similarities in their appearance – pointed ears, bulging eyes, and a small-frame body. Furthermore, bushy chihuahuas resemble wild vulpines. Therefore, some people think that these two creatures are related to one another.
While the idea is seemingly convincing, chihuahuas did not really come from fennec foxes. Chihuahuas are still domesticated dogs, which is quite the opposite of the feral upbringing of fennec foxes. In fact, the biology of chihuahuas is more related to wolves and dingoes than fennec foxes.
Of course, that should be the case, given that chihuahuas are a type of domestic dog, making them a subspecies of the gray wolf. A chihuahua can breed with other dogs. However, such a process is not plausible with other wild canids. Specifically, fennec foxes and chihuahuas don’t belong to the same genus. Because of this fundamental difference, it is impossible for the two animals to be related to one another.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a Fox Mate With a Wolf?
Similar to fox dog hybrids, a fox wolf hybrid isn’t real either. There’s a stark difference in their chromosome and genetic structure. Foxes (red fox) have 34 chromosomes, and like dogs, wolves have 78. They can’t produce any offspring at all.
Can a Fox Breed With a Coyote?
Foxes and coyotes don’t belong to the same genus, which prevents interbreeding. In the Canidae family, coyotes belong to the Canini genus and foxes to the Vulipini. However, it is possible for coyotes to breed with wolves and dogs that have the exact chromosome count.
Can a Fox Breed With a Cat?
Cats and foxes can’t breed for the simple reason that they don’t belong to the same family. Foxes are members of the Canidae family, while cats are from the Felidae. Hence, their chromosome count and genetic structure are vastly different from one another.
Could This All Information Change With More Data?
There is sufficient data that solidifies breeding restrictions between foxes and other canines. Their genetic make-up is simply too different.
Do Foxes and Dogs Get Along?
The answer to this question is quite tricky. Both foxes and dogs are territorial in nature. Hence, they like to mark their areas (through pees) to establish dominance. Dogs tend to be aggressive against foreign animals that enter their territory. If the fox came from the wild, it might possess a similar trait. But most of the time, wild foxes stay away from other animals.
However, the situation is different if the fox and dog grew up together. They could mingle harmoniously, as they are familiar with one another.
Can a Dog Impregnate a Coyote?
Technically, dogs cannot impregnate coyotes, but coyotes can impregnate dogs. The resulting offspring is a coydog, which is a hybrid byproduct of a female dog and a male coyote. The said hybrid is also fertile, which makes them suitable for successive breeding.
Due to the distinct dissimilarities in their genetic make-up, foxes and dogs cannot breed. There’s no viability that they can produce offspring.
Strictly speaking, only animals in the same genus can breed with one another. For instance, dogs can breed with coyotes, wolves, and dingos. Meanwhile, interbreeding with different fox species is possible.
List of Sources
Nagashima, J. (2021). Canid Reproductive Biology: Norm and Unique Aspects in Strategies and Mechanisms. U.S. National Library of Medicine.
Coyote-Dog Hybrid Test. University of California.
Learn About Foxes. Commonwealth of Massachusetts.