Many people strongly believe that they can easily tell the difference between a coyote and a wolf. The truth is, there are many coyotes and wolves in America that are not full-blooded and are actually hybrids of the two.
Coyote-wolf mixes are the offspring that result when coyotes and wolves mate. They possess the genes and characteristics of both species. They are not only the result of scientific studies, but they have actually existed in the wild for at least a century.
If this information seems frightening, have no fear, it does not spell impending doom for your domesticated animals. The more you learn about this intriguing pairing, the less frightening it will become.
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What is a Coyote-Wolf Mix?
A coyote-wolf mix is an animal that is the genetic result of breeding between a coyote and a wolf. The two separate species are so closely related that they can breed and produce viable offspring.
Coyote-wolf mixes are more prevalent in nature than many people realize. It is believed that most eastern coyotes have wolf genes within their genetic composition, along with domesticated dog DNA as well.
What is a Coywolf?
A coywolf is the most common nickname given the combined offspring of a coyote and a wolf. Sometimes they are referred to as coyote-wolf hybrids.
Coywolves receive their genetic makeup from both coyotes and wolves. As a result, they often display a combination of physical and behavioral characteristics of each animal.
Many scientists discourage the use of the term coywolf because it does not tell the whole story. While coyote-wolf mixes do contain coyote and wolf genetics, there is another animal that makes an appearance: the dog.
Genetic Makeup of Coyote-Wolf Mixes
Although it would make more sense that coyote-wolf mixes were half coyote and half wolf, that is not necessarily the case. Thanks to decades of interbreeding, the genetic makeup of a coyote-wolf mix, or coywolf to some, is interesting, to say the least.
A study conducted on eastern coyotes revealed that their genes were 64% coyote, 13% gray wolf, 13% Eastern wolf, and the remaining 10% came from domesticated dogs. It is believed that most coywolves carry domesticated dog DNA also.
To be more scientifically accurate, “coydogwolf” may be a better option, but that doesn’t sound nearly as intriguing does it?
How Do Coyotes and Wolves Reproduce With Each Other?
Coyotes and wolves are able to breed and reproduce because they both belong to the Canis genus and they have the same number of chromosomes. This makes breeding possible and ensures that their offspring are viable.
Can Coyote-Wolf Mixes Reproduce?
Coyote-wolf mixes can reproduce because the two closely related species each contain the same number of genetic chromosomes. Unlike other hybrid animals like donkeys, coyote-wolf mixes are fertile and easily reproduce with other coyotes, wolves, or coyote-wolf mixes.
What Does a Coyote-Wolf Mix Look Like?
Coyote-wolf mixes or hybrids look like a unique combination of coyotes and wolves, sometimes more than the other depending on the specific genetic makeup of the animal.
They typically weigh between 35 and 50 pounds in adulthood, sometimes heavier. Their bodies will be around 4 to 5 feet in length from their nose to their tail.
Coyote-wolf mixes often have slightly smaller ears than full-blooded coyotes, along with longer bodies.
Coyote-wolf mixes usually are taller than most coyotes but shorter than wolves. They vary in height, standing somewhere between 21 to 32 inches at their shoulder depending on their specific genetic makeup.
Coyote-wolf mixes display different variations of colors in their coats including blonde, red, brown, and black. Every coyote-wolf mix’s coat looks different.
Coyote-wolf mixes have blockier muzzles that are not quite as narrow and long as a full-blooded coyote would have. They also tend to have slightly larger bottom jaws.
What Do Coyote-Wolf Mixes Eat?
Coyote-wolf mixes are mainly carnivorous, however, they will eat very limited vegetation during warmer parts of the year. They eat many of the same foods that both coyotes and wolves typically eat.
Some coyote-wolf mixes are able to eat larger animals than coyotes normally do, like adult-size deer. It is not frequent but it can happen since coyote-wolf mixes are often larger in size than a typical coyote.
When Did Coyotes and Wolves Start Breeding In the Wild?
Coyote-wolf mixes are not a new thing, although the internet and social media make old news seem recent. It is no secret to scientists and coyote enthusiasts that these two species have been intertwining their DNA since the early 1900s.
In 1919, the first known coyote-wolf mix was discovered in Canada. Coyotes, wolves, and domesticated dogs have since crossed in many different areas, including many upper eastern states in North America.
Today, coyote-wolf mixes can be found as far south as the Appalachian mountains and probably even further.
Where Do Coyote and Wolf Habitats Overlap?
Coyote and wolf habitats overlap in northern regions as far north as Canada. It is there that many believe that coyotes and wolves first began to breed.
Usually, when the wolf population is plentiful, coyotes steer clear of wolf territory because they are well aware that wolves can and will kill them if they get too close. In areas where the wolf population has diminished, however, coyotes become potential mates for wolves.
Why Do Coyotes and Wolves Breed?
In normal circumstances, where there are plenty of members of each species, coyotes and wolves would not breed. In fact, most wolves would kill or run off any coyote that tried to move in on their territory.
Coyotes and wolves will breed, however, in an effort to keep their own species alive. Priorities tend to change when species become endangered and finding a mate is next to impossible.
In the past, when wolves were hunted and killed to a point where their population diminished significantly, coyotes were able to move into the area without fear of being killed. On the contrary, wolves began selecting some of them as mates during the breeding season.
Do Coyotes Breed With Any Other Animal?
Coyotes typically only breed within their own species; however, occasionally coyotes will breed with domesticated dogs. Dogs, like wolves, are so closely related to coyotes that they are able to successfully produce offspring with them.
What Is a Coydog?
Coydog is the term used to describe the hybrid offspring of a coyote and a domesticated dog. Many coydogs resemble full-blooded coyotes so closely that they are only discovered to be coydogs when their DNA is tested.
Coyote-wolf mixes may seem like something out of a movie, but the truth is, many of the coyotes and even wolves that roam the country today have some combination of the genetics of both animals.
These hybrids are slightly larger, stockier, and more adaptable than coyotes or wolves, but they are not inherently more treacherous to humans than either animal.
There is a lot to learn when it comes to coyote wolf mixes. These are the sources that were used to write this article.