A Dog-badger Hybrid?

Canis familiaris × Taxidea taxus

Hybrids out of History

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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
A diligent scholar is like a bee who takes honey from many different flowers and stores it in his hive.
John Amos Comenius
dog-badger hybrids

The actual occurrence of dog-badger hybrids, which seems to be attested by only a single old report, should not be construed as factual. Confirmation of such a disparate cross, which would be interfamilial (Canidae × Mustelidae), would require either a testable specimen or the production of a hybrid under controlled conditions.

A dog-badger hybrid was reported on page 4, column 3, of the April 4, 1896, issue of The Cook County Herald, a newspaper published in Grand Marais, Minnesota (source). The following is a transcript of the report:

BADGER DOG FOR HIS PET

Queer Animal That is a Montana
Recluse’s Sole Companion

    At the foot of the middle butte of the Sweet Grass hills in Montana lives a miner named Byron Banner. He is practically a recluse, seldom associating with any neighbors, or even talking to them. He works his claim all alone, and no one knows whether he is rich or poor.
    Like most recluses, he has his pet, but Banner’s pet is so uncommon, even unnatural, that it deserves to be put on record. This pet, says the Dupuyer Acantha, is a badger dog. The animal is small and has the feet and legs of a badger while the body resembles a dog.
    Its claws have to be trimmed every few months, as they grow out of all proportions to the foot. When it walks it has the peculiar waddle of the badger. Its bark is somewhat similar to that of the lapdog. It will bite savagely when teased, but is otherwise perfectly docile.
    A cross between a wolf or coyote and a dog is not uncommon, nor is it so much of a freak, since they belong to the same family. But a cross between different families, as the dog and badger, is something for naturalists and evolutionists to think about.
Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of hybrids to include all serious allegations, especially those of scholars, whether or not the hybrid alleged seems possible or likely to me. This policy, I think, helps to eliminate subjective judgment on my part, and therefore should remove at least one source of systematic bias from my work. It also helps to fulfill the ethical obligation of telling not just the truth, but the whole truth.

The Dupuyer Acantha was a newspaper published in Dupuyer, Montana from 1894 to 1904. The original article as it appeared in that publication added the following information: "The animal in Banner’s possession is about two years old and has been seen by the writer’s informant, Jas. Ralph and several other reputable men."

Clearly, given the locale, the cross alleged would have involved an American badger (Taxidea taxus). These animals weigh in the 15-25 pound range (7-11.5 kg). So, strictly from the standpoint of size, a badger would be a compatible mate for a small dog. From the report, it is unclear whether the badger parent of the supposed hybrid was its the sire or its dam, though male dogs do tend to be far less discriminating in choice of mate, than are bitches.

Dog hybrids >>

Mustelid hybrids >>

Table of contents >>

Bibliography >>

Biology Dictionary >>

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


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