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Is a Coyote a Type Of Dog? Can They Be Domesticated? (FAQs & Facts)

Written by: Ed Malaker

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

coyote on brown grass

Is a Coyote a Type Of Dog? Can They Be Domesticated? (FAQs & Facts)

The coyote is a wild animal native to the United States and can be found almost anywhere, especially if you live in a rural area. Many people wonder if a coyote is a type of dog because they look so similar. In the broad sense, it is, but there are many differences between the two. It is possible to domesticate a Coyote, however, owning one is illegal in many states. Keep reading as we compare these canines.


Is a Coyote a Dog?

Coyotes are part of the Canidae family, which includes dogs and wolves. All three animals have similar qualities and can look alike if you see them from a distance, which can confuse some people and even put them in danger, especially if there are many wild dogs in your area.

coyote close up
Image Credit: mathey, Pixabay

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How Is a Coyote Similar to a Dog?

Besides their appearance, coyotes eat similar food and groom themselves the same way. Coyotes are also about the same size as many popular dog breeds, like the Border Collie, Blue Heeler, Australian Shepherd, Corgi, and Spanish Water Dog. A coyote might even bark like a dog, and they can act similarly. They both spend most of their day sniffing the ground and following trails and use their tail to communicate a wide range of signals and emotions.

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How Is a Coyote Different From a Dog?

Coyotes are wild animals that do not know how to interact with humans and will not be friendly. If you are familiar with dog tracks, you will notice that coyote tracks tend to be in straight lines and feature their long, thin toes. Coyotes also tend to be much thinner than dogs, partly because they need to hunt for food, and their legs appear longer because their chest isn’t as deep.

domestic dog looking back at a wild coyote out on the snow
Image By: Amelia Martin, Shutterstock

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Can I Domesticate a Coyote?

Yes, it is possible to domesticate a coyote, and you can even purchase one from a breeder. If you train it properly, it can be a great pet. However, owning one is illegal in many states, so you must check with your local authorities if you are thinking about getting one. Also, be aware that coyotes need a large amount of space to run around, and you won’t be able to walk them like a dog. They might also be aggressive toward other pets and strangers.

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Will Coyotes Hunt Dogs?

It depends. A coyote usually sticks to smaller prey, like rabbits, turkeys, rodents, etc. They also eat a wide variety of fruits and berries that grow wild. However, when a coyote is close to a human population, it might choose to attack a domestic pet, like a cat or small dog, or get into your garden searching for vegetables. It will usually avoid larger dogs unless it is extremely hungry or if several coyotes are hunting in a pack. Large dog breeds, especially those trained as guard dogs, can effectively scare off a coyote.

Image By: Free-Photos, Pixabay

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Is a Coyote Smarter Than a Dog?

There is no clear answer to this, though one study suggests that eastern coyotes carry wolf genes that improve their intelligence—possibly over dogs—and help them maintain a large size that enables them to take down whitetail deer, which is unusual compared to the smaller coyotes in the west.



Coyotes and dogs are part of the Canidae family but are different animals. While they look similar and eat many of the same foods, their respective behaviors are much different. Coyotes are aggressive, wild animals that spend much of their time hunting. They will sometimes attack larger animals if several coyotes are hunting in a pack. Although a breeder can sell you a domestic coyote to keep as a pet, it will need a significant amount of space, and it won’t behave like a dog. Owning one is also illegal in many states, so you must know your local laws before buying one.

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Featured Image Credit: Frans van Heerden, Pexels

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