Dog-sheep Hybrids

Fact or fiction?

dog-sheep hybridThe Chinese animal. Left: alleged dog-sheep hybrid; right: mother.

EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
dog-sheep hybrid The alleged dog-sheep hybrid birthed by a ewe in China in 2011.



It is well known that the sort of mating that would be required to produce dog-sheep hybrids does occur on farms with some regularity. Various YouTube videos document dogs mating with sheep. This being such a disparate cross, it's somewhat surprising that reports of its occurrence would exist, but as it turns out, they do.

Photos are available for one recent alleged case, which supposedly occurred on a sheep farm in China in 2011 (see images on this page). The animal pictured here was found soon after birth on a Chinese sheep farm. The owner, farmer Liu Naiying, claimed that he found it soon after birth with its mother and that she was caring for it while it was still wet. He was amazed to see that it looked so much like a dog, while at the same time being birthed by a sheep and having the fleece of a sheep.

"I was herding the sheep, and saw a sheep licking her newborn lamb on the grassland," Mr Liu said. "When I went up to check, I was shocked because it looked so weird, like a cross between a sheep and a dog. I was a bit frightened, as I've been raising sheep for 20 years and had never seen such a creature." (Read more here)

As usual with other such bizarre putative hybrids, biologists have apparently refused to test it and have instead simply denied the possibility that such a hybrid could exist!

In addition to this recent report, there have been numerous others about crosses of this sort published over the years in American newspapers. (If you know of any other cases, not listed here, please contact the website.)

One such report appeared on the front page (column 6) of the February 11, 1859 issue of The Wyandot Pioneer, a newspaper published in Upper Sandusky, Ohio (access original):

A Veritable Sheep Dog

Mr. Z. P. Posey, who has a farm near Metropolis Illinois, gives us a description of a curious animal which he is raising at present. He writes: "A very fine Merino ewe of mine brought forth, on the first of November, a curious creature which proves to be half dog and half sheep. Its head, eyes, teeth and ears are precisely those of a dog, while the rest of the animal is a sheep. It sucks like other lambs, and follows its mother about, barking like a dog. Its fore part is black as a crow, while its hinder parts are white and woolly like a sheep. Hundreds of people hereabouts have visited my farm to see this curious freak of nature."

Another such report appeared on the front page (column 6) of the March 16, 1888 issue of the Washington Standard, a newspaper published in Olympia, Washington (access original):

A strange freak of nature presented itself last week among the sheep of R. H. Espy of Oysterville. A lamb was born bearing the face and head of a dog and the balance of it a sheep. The Pacific Journal says it bore strong resemblance to a large Newfoundland dog, with eyes, nose, ears and the shape of his head. It only lived two weeks, but with care it might have grown to be of full size and proved a valuable curiosity.

Oysterville is on Washington's southern coast.

Later in that same year of 1888, another case was reported in Stoverton, Ohio. The article appears on page 2 (column 3) of the July 12, 1888 issue of the Springfield Daily Republic, a newspaper published in Springfield, Ohio (access original):

Nature's Freak

Stoverton, July 12.—A most remarkable freak of nature is reported from the farm of George Sevingle, who lives near this place. He has among a flock of sheep a lamb over two months old, which has the nose and feet of a dog, but is in all other respects a sheep. Instead of having the ordinary teeth of the sheep kind, the animal's mouth, both upper and lower jaws, is filled with long and sharp wolf-like fangs, rendering it extremely difficult to pick grass like the other sheep. Consequently it prefers to chew and masticate twigs and shrubs. It is regarded as one of the greatest curiosities ever seen in this neighborhood.

Another appeared on the front page (column 5) of the June 2, 1893 issue of The Evening Bulletin, a newspaper published in Maysville, Kentucky (access original):

Half Sheep and Half Dog

Mount Eber, Ky., June 2.—Farmer John Rollins has in his possession a genuine freak of nature that beats all curious things ever seen in this section. It is a lamb with the exact head of a dog and is as black as coal. Its forefeet are those of a dog, while the hind ones are like a sheep's. It is covered with fine silken hair half way back and the balance is wool.

What may be the same case as that immediately above is mentioned in a North Carolina paper. The article appears on page 2 (column 2) of the June 2, 1893 issue of Asheville Daily Citizen, a newspaper published in Asheville, North Carolina (access original):

The Summerville correspondent of the Winston Sentinel says that Mr. George Smith showed him a monstrosity that had a setter dog's head and neck, and a sheep's body with its hams covered with hair. It was accidentally killed.

The following appeared on page 3 (column 4) of the February 20, 1901 issue of The Adair County News, a newspaper published in Columbia, Kentucky (access original):

A Freak of Nature

Mr. W. H. Wheat, who lives at Tarter, Adair County, is the owner of a fine white ewe which gave birth to twins last Sunday morning, one being a well-formed ewe lamb, the other a complete hybrid, the head, ears, tail, skin and hair precisely like that of a hound puppy; the legs and feet that of a lamb. Hundreds of persons have called to see the curiosity.

Note: It has been my policy in listing reports of mammalian hybrids to include all serious allegations by serious individuals, especially 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 eliminate at least one source of systematic bias from my work.

Additional mentions of such a hybrid have been garnered from old news reports. One is an item originating from the Winston Republican a paper published in Winston, North Carolina. Among other papers around the country, it appeared on page 3 (column 2) of the January 8, 1878 issue of The Progressive Farmer, also published in Winston (access original). It states that a ten-month-old ewe owned by a Mr. A. D. Cowles of Gap Creek, Ashe County, N.C., had three normally developed legs, but that "The left fore leg is shorter than the other and has a well formed dog's foot with claws."

Another appeared on the front page (column 6) of the January 8, 1878 issue of the Cincinnati Daily Star, a newspaper published in Cincinnati, Ohio (access original). It simply states that "a lamb with a double jaw and the countenance of a bull-dog" was on display in a local saloon.

Another is a single sentence that appeared on page 8 of the June 14, 1929 issue of the Escanaba Daily Press, a newspaper published in Escanaba, Michigan (and in various other papers around the U.S.) reading, "A lamb with a dog’s head was recently born in England."

Another, originating from the Huntingdon Times, a paper published in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, appeared on the front page (column 2) of the April 5, 1871 issue of the Nashville Union and American, published in Nashville, Tennessee (access original). It says "We have received two feet of a lamb from the farm of William Humphrey, of this county, very much like the feet of a dog. We are unable to account for this strange freak of nature…"

If you know of other reports of strange hybrids or (much better!) have such an animal in your possession and would like to get it genetically tested, please contact the website.

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

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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