Dog/Maned Wolf Hybrids

EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
“The big red wolf of the South American plains is not closely related to the northern wolves; and it was to me unexpected to find it interbreeding with ordinary domestic dogs.”
—Theodore Roosevelt
Through the Brazilian Wilderness
Teddy Roosevelt Teddy Roosevelt

Maned wolf (Chrysocyon) Maned wolf (Chrysocyon)

The occurrence of hybrids between dog and maned wolf (Canis familiaris × Chrysocyon brachyurus) is poorly documented. There seem to have been no DNA studies of any of the alleged hybrids, nor have there been any formal reports of this cross. However, such information as I have managed to collect on the subject appears below.

In his book Through the Brazilian Wilderness (1921, pp. 76-77), Theodore Roosevelt, who was not only the 26th President of the United States, but also a respected naturalist, says that during his travels in South America he encountered hybrids of the ordinary dog with the maned wolf. The following is an excerpt from his account of a jaguar hunt on the Taquari River in southern Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul): “The dogs were a wild-looking set. Some were of distinctly wolfish appearance. These, we were assured,

were descended in part from the big red wolf [maned wolf] of the neighborhood, a tall, lank animal, with much smaller teeth than a big northern wolf. The domestic dog is undoubtedly descended from at least a dozen different species of wild dogs, wolves, and jackals, some of them probably belonging to what we style different genera. The degree of fecundity or lack of fecundity between different species varies in extraordinary and inexplicable fashion in different families of mammals. In the horse family, for instance, the species are not fertile inter se [actually some equine hybrids are partially fertile]; whereas among the oxen, species seemingly at least as widely separated as the horse, ass, and zebra—species such as the domestic ox, bison, yak, and gaur—breed freely together and their offspring are fertile; the lion and tiger also breed together, and produce offspring which will breed with either parent stock; and tame dogs in different quarters of the world, although all of them fertile inter se, are in many cases obviously blood kin to the neighboring wild, wolf-like or jackal-like creatures which are specifically, and possibly even generically, distinct from one another. The big red wolf of the South American plains is not closely related to the northern wolves; and it was to me unexpected to find it interbreeding with ordinary domestic dogs.

Maned wolf adults weigh 20 to 34 kilograms (44 to 75 lb), about the same as an average dog. The range of Chrysocyon extends over much of southern Brazil, as well as adjacent Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. The chromosome count of domestic dogs is 2n=78, whereas that of Chrysocyon is 2n=76. Both have a gestation period of nine weeks.

To the above information can be added a comment from an anonymous, apparently Brazilian, participant in a forum on wolves (www.orkut.com):

However, a long time ago (well over 10 years, in fact), I knew of a hybrid between the maned wolf and a white shepherd in Minas Gerais [one of the states of Brazil]. The animal was sterile. But the case got almost no attention in the media. [Translated by E.M. McCarthy. Original Portuguese: “Porém, a muito tempo atras (bem mais de 10 anos por sinal) soube de um hibrido entre lobo guará e pastor branco em MG, o animal era esteril, o caso praticamente não teve repercussão na midia.”]

In another forum (br.answers.yahoo.com), another anonymous Brazilian participant says:

Is it true that the maned wolves that inhabit the rainforest occasionally cross with Canis l. familiaris? If not, is it necessary to "force" the cross? Because I have a mongrel dog, and I'm curious because it looks so much like a maned wolf. He was found on his own in the mountains on the south coast [of Brazil]. [Translated by E.M. McCarthy. Original Portuguese: “É verdade que lobos-guarás que habitam a mata atlântica raramente cruzam com o canis l. familiaris? Se não ... é necessário "forçar" o cruzamento? É que eu tenho um vira-lata, e estou curioso para saber porque ele se parece tanto com um lobo guará ... ele foi encontrado sozinho na região da Serra, no litoral sul para ser mais exato.”]

A YouTube video shows a half-grown puppy of which the owner says

This puppy is a cross between a German shepherd and a maned wolf. It was not produced on purpose, but was accidental. While in heat, the shepherd escaped the enclosure it was in and ended up crossing with a wolf, which is common in the place where this video was recorded. [Translated by E.M. McCarthy. Original Portuguese: “Esse cachorrinho é um cruzamento de pastor alemão com lobo guará, não foi de propósito, foi acidental, a cachorra pastor escapou do cercado que se encontrava quando no cio e acabou cruzando com um lobo, que é comum no lugar onde esse video foi gravado.”]

But the puppy in question has all the appearance of being a pure German shepherd and does not have any evident traits of a maned wolf, except perhaps for its large ears (it's true, however, that in some crosses, the offspring resemble one parent when young, but the other when mature).

Another site displays a photo of a dog with a red coat and black muzzle (both as in maned wolf), labeled "Cruzamento de Lobo guara com vira-lata" (cross between a maned wolf and a mongrel dog). But no explanation or details are given. Moreover, it is not evident from the picture itself whether this animal is a dog x maned wolf hybrid or not.

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.

reliability arrow

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