Coyote-wolf Hybrids

Canis latrans × Canis lupus

Mammalian Hybrids

coyote-wolf hybridsSecond generation (F2) coyote-wolf hybrids, produced by mating between brother and sister F1 hybrids (Source: Mech et al. 2017).


A coywolf, aka wolfote (coyote-wolf hybrid)

These hybrids, known as coywolves, or wolfotes, are produced in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada, wherever wolves and coyotes come into contact. They are fertile in both sexes (Mech et al. 2017) and apparently better adapted to urban environments than are either coyotes or wolves, so that the hybrid population is currently expanding and moving into large cities such as Toronto and New York. Wheeldon et al. (2013), found molecular evidence of both wolf and dog genetic inheritance in coyote populations. In the conclusions section of their study, they state that

The evidence presented herein of introgressed dog and wolf genes in eastern coyotes is corroborated by investigations of skull morphology (Lawrence and Bossert 1969; McGinnis 1979; Kays et al. 2010) and coat color (Anderson et al. 2009; Brockerville et al. 2013). The introgression of wolf genes has contributed to the large body size and skull dimensions of eastern coyotes, putatively making them more effective predators of deer (Kays et al. 2010).

Wayne and Vila (2003) speculated that, “female wolves and male coyotes are more closely matched in size, and thus may also be more likely to mate.” However, Lehman et al. (1991) found coyote mtDNA in most of the ostensible wolves in the hybrid zone, but found no wolf mtDNA in any of the coyotes, which suggests a strong directionality to the cross, that is, that male wolves usually mate with coyote bitches (although the reciprocal cross has occurred in captivity). So Wayne and Vila's assumption may be mistaken. And yet, reports of hybrids produced in captivity seem to refer solely to male coyotes mating with wolf bitches.

The hybrids themselves usually backcross to wolves, not coyotes. Mech et al. (2017) stated that “our F1 hybrids survived well, were fertile, and could breed at 1 year of age.”

In Algonquin National Park, where roads are few and moose densities high, the wolf population is fairly pure, but a hybrid zone exists adjacent to the park (Benson et al. 2012).

Paradiso and Nowak (1972, p. 1) note that the red wolf, Canis rufus, is “highly variable in all characters,” which is consistent with a recent hybrid origin, and that it is in general intermediate between latrans and lupus with respect to the measurements of its characters. Moreover, Wayne and Jenks (1991), Reich et al. (1999) and vonHoldt et al. (2016) offer genetic evidence that rufus is in fact derived from this cross, and all historical specimens of rufus seem to be hybrids (Nowak 2002; Roy et al. 1994a, 1996). Nevertheless, the IUCN (accessed 9/4/2017) describes C. rufus as a critically endangered species. However, Hohenlohe et al. (2017) argue against the idea that C. rufus had a recent hybrid origin).

coyote-wolf hybridsFirst backcross (B1) hybrid produced by crossing a female hybrid of a western-coyote female and a male wolf back with that wolf (Source: Mech et al. 2017). Animal is 21-week-old female.

More about coywolves >>

Note: Theil (2006) describes the behavioral interaction of wolves and coyotes in the wild.

References: Benson et al. 2012; Boyd et al. 2001; Ferrell et al. 1980; French and Dusi 1979; Gipson et al. 1974; Hailer and Leonard 2008; Kolenosky 1971; Lawrence and Bossert 1967, 1969; Lehman et al. 1991; Mengel 1971; Paradiso and Nowak 1971, 1972; Phillips et al. 2003; Pilgrim et al. 1998; Roy et al. 1994a, 1994b, 1996; Sears et al. 2003; Silver and Silver 1969; Stanfield 1970 (p. 35); Thiel 2006; Wayne 1996; Wayne and Vila 2003; Schmitz and Kolenosky 1985a,1985b; Sears et al. 2003; Wayne et al. 1991; Young and Goldman 1944; Young and Jackson 1951 (p. 124). Internet Citations: RUFUS.

A list of dog crosses

The following is a list of reported dog crosses discussed on this site. Some of these crosses are much better documented than others (as indicated by the reliability arrow). Moreover, some are extremely disparate, and so must be taken with a large grain of salt. But all have been reported at least once.

sheep-pig hybrid Sheep-pig hybrids?
dog-cow hybrid A dog-cow hybrid?
reliability arrow

Dog × Wolf >>

Coyote × Wolf >>

Dog × Dingo >>

Dog × Jackal >>

Dog × Coyote >>

Dog × Cow >>

Dog × Fox >>

Dog × Cat >>

Fox × Raccoon Dog >>

Dog × Maned Wolf >>

Dog × Bear >>

Dog × Primate >>

Fox × Raccoon >>

Dog × Sheep >>

Dog × Goat >>

Dog × Pig >>

Fox × Wolf >>

Dog × Horse >>

Dog × Rabbit >>

Dog × Turkey >>

Dog × Parrot >>

Dog × Hawk >>

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Internet citations >>

Biology Dictionary >>

By the same author: Handbook of Avian Hybrids of the World, Oxford University Press (2006).

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Coyote-wolf Hybrids - ©