Dogs and foxes cannot breed because there are too many differences between them. Although from the same family, they are from two branches that separated many years ago.
Many people think their dogs have fox in them, but this is purely an appearance thing, not a result of fox and dog breeding.
The question about whether a dog and fox can breed is a common one. After all, they look similar and come from the same family don’t they?
It’s a little more complicated than that, but I’ll go over the facts and look at the stories of a fox, a dog-fox hybrid.
Different Branches of the Dog Family Branches
There are two branches to the dog family and although similar in many aspects, including appearance, they are actually very different. The two branches and their types are:
- Common Dogs
- Golden Jackals
- African Wild Dogs
- Racoon Dog
- Bat eared foxes
The Canusis a relatively recent branch in scientific terms. They emerged around 3 to 4 million years ago and have a different number of DNAchromosomes to the much older Canidae.
It’s this difference in chromosomes that stops the interbreeding between a dog and fox.The different paths were simply too long ago.
Dogs and Foxes DNA is Too Different to Breed
When dogs and foxes parted ways, they took very different paths and as a result, their DNA is different as well as the different numbers of chromosomes. This is a process over millions of years.
Foxes are so diverse that many of the species of fox have different numbers of chromosomes to each other. This makes it even less likely that a dog could interbreed with them.
With the physical differences, also come behavioral differences. Foxes are wild and solitary animals and have manydifferent breeding patterns to dogs. It is unlikely that even if dogs and foxes could breed, they would.
Foxes Have Different Lifespans and Behaviour
Along with the differences between dog and foxchromosomes and DNA, there are other reasons why interbreeding doesn’t happen.
Breeders have spent years ensuring dogs have all the desirable traits, calmness, behavior and health that we like. Foxes are very different:
- Lifespan: A fox lifespan is between 2 and 4 years. The average lifespan of a domesticated dog is much longer at 10 to 13 years.
- Training Ability: Training a fox is difficult. Domestic dogs can be trained to a very high standard and can do amazing things on command. Foxes have a much more limited ability because they are naturally wild and have short attention spans.
- House Training: House training a fox is very difficult. Because foxes are wild and territorial, they mark their territory. Fox urine has been described as ‘cat pee, but a million times worse’ and ‘the most pungent smell in the universe.’ Thinking back to house training my dog as a puppy, I don’t want a fox anywhere near my house.
- Foxes are shy: Foxes don’t like strangers. Foxes are very close with their own family and offspring, but are very shy around anyone outside their immediate group. This shyness and distrust likely leadsto unsocial behavior with strangers.
Foxes Don’t Make Good Pets
Although foxes look cute and the thought of a dog/fox (dox) hybrid sounds nice, foxes don’t make good pets. A dog and fox hybrid would still retain many of the characteristics and traits of a fox.
Depending on where you live, some places consider it illegal to have a fox as a pet.
People who have had foxes as pets have usually done so because they’ve rescued a baby fox and cared for it, and even they don’t recommend foxes as pets.
Foxes tend to bite. They dig constantly and are highly strung, making them stress out easily. They won’t get on with other pets and need very large enclosures.
It’s not just their urine that smells. Foxes themselves smell too. They have a very pungent musky odor that is impossible to stop. There is no way to de-scent them.
Most people don’t realize this because they haven’t been close to a fox. We assume that they smell like our well-groomed and cared for pet dogs.
Some Dogs Look Like Foxes, But They’re Not
Some people mistakenly think their dog has fox DNA in them simply because they look a little like one. This isn’t the case. The dogs just have certain features bred into them that bear a similarity to fox features.
- Finnish Spitz: Although similar in appearance, the Finnish Spitz is friendly and calm, unlike foxes.
- Icelandic Sheepdog: With a fox-like face, this dog is completely different to foxes in that it has a friendly and loyal nature.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi: Traditionally a herding dog, this corgi is hardworking and very obedient.
- Shiba Inu: This is a very confident dog, not always suitable for a first-time dog owner.
- Canaan Dog: Recently a wild dog trained to work for security services; this dog goes all the way back to the Israelites.
- Basenji: Unlike foxes, this is a very clean dog, and they love children.
- Schipperke:Suitable for apartment living, but has high energy needs.
- Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: Bred to look like a fox, they love exercise and are loyal, but need plenty of exercise.
Your Dog Comes From Wolves, Not Foxes
Although all modern domesticated dogs differ in appearance, they can all be traced back to wolves thousands of years ago.
It’s believed that the floppy ears, curly tails, and other friendly features came about due to the friendliest dogs gaining an advantage. Over the years, these features became normal and are what we like in our dogs today.
The domestication of dogs really is a fascinating set of circumstances that has given us our wonderful pooches we have today. Over thousands of years,domestication and careful breeding, all the good traits of dogs have been bred into modern dogs.
Sadly, there are breeders who breed all the bad things like aggression and temper into dogs. This is unfortunate, but the concept is the same.
Dogs Can Breed With Wolves
Dogs and wolves can breed and have offspring, which can then go on to breed themselves. This is possible because dogs and wolves followed the same evolution path.
Dogs evolved from wolves and became close to humans. Wolves remained wild and kept the traits of a wild animal.
But, even now, because of the similarity between dogs and wolves, they can still breed, although this is unlikely due to different breeding patterns and territorial behaviors of wild wolves.
In some parts of the world, the separation of dogs and wolves may not be too far apart due to some dogs being wild and living close to where wolves live. This breeding is the exception to the rule.
Generally wolves are shy towards other animals and people and keep their distance, although there are reports of intentional breeding between wolves and dogs.
The Dog-Fox Hybrid: The Dox Has Never Been Proven
There are many tales of a dog-fox hybrid called a dox, but there are no substantiated reports to prove there has ever been one.
Some individuals over the years have claimed to have produced offspring from a dog and fox, but no one has ever proven that is what they were.
When you think of all the dog breeds over the thousands of years of dog domestication, there have only been a handful of claims about the possibility of having a dox.
Due to the similarities of some breeds of dogs and foxes, people assume there is some lineage going back to foxes. This is just an appearance thing and possibly related to the fact some dogs have been bred to look like foxes, rather than have the same DNA through interbreeding.
The Bottom Line
As wonderful as some people think it would be, foxes and dogs can’t breed. It all comes back to where they sit in their evolutionary journey. They simply went in different directions millions of years ago.
Their DNA is too different, and their mating patterns make it incredibly unlikely that even if it was possible, they probably wouldn’t breed.
Foxes don’tmake very good pets, so if their habits and traits were a part of a dog’s makeup, they wouldn’t be a desirable pet like dogs are today. Even some fox owners don’t recommend keeping foxes as pets.
Dogs have been bred to have all the desirable traits that we love for both looks and behavior. They are domesticated, while foxes are wild. Dogs are bred to live with us, but foxes haven’t had the benefit of selective breeding over the years.
Let’s be thankful for our dogs and who they are.
Writer: Craig Taylor