Fox-wolf Hybrids

Vulpes vulpes × Canis lupus

fox-wolf hybrid
A supposed fox-wolf hybrid. Illustration from a collection of drawings executed by artist Ferdinand Bauer (1760-1826) for Dr. John Sibthorp (1758-1796), which have been arranged and bound as an the unpublished manuscript bearing the title Fauna Græca Sibthorpiana or Drawings of the Animals of Greece and the Levant. The faint cursive script in the illustration reads “Has the appearance of being a hybrid between a wolf and a fox.”
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EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS

     
Red Fox Red Fox
Image: Minette Layne


Grey Wolf Wolf

Note: Since dogs and wolves are often treated as conspecific, some scientists would equate wolf × fox with dog × fox, a cross for which far more evidence is available.

Although potential breeding contact between the wolf and the red fox occurs in North America and Eurasia, fox-wolf hybrids are poorly attested. A brief report does, however, appear in Isis: Zeitschrift für alle naturwissenschaftlichen Liebhabereien (1881, no. 6, p. 48). It reads as follows: “In the royal Lippe-Schaumburg forests of Darda in Hungary recently, an animal was killed that was initially thought to be a very strong fox. A closer examination of this interesting

kill was carried out in Vienna by eminent zoologists and experienced hunters, which revealed that the animal was a hybrid between a wolf and fox. The animal had the overall form of a fox, but the color of the wolf. In particular, its ears were fox-shaped, but wolf-colored. The tail was as short as a wolf’s. The animal was carefully stuffed, and a portrait was prepared for the Crown-Prince [Rudolf] by the painter [Hans] Canon. [Translated by E. M. McCarthy. Original German]

This single, brief, second-hand account, is apparently the only available report of this cross, although Heck (1932) does say that a male fox-dog hybrid produced offspring with a female wolf (Canis lupus). There is also the picture, shown at the top of this page, of a supposed hybrid.

Sir Walter Raleigh Sir Walter Raleigh

One piece of hybrid trivia can be properly filed under the heading of this cross: Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) in his History of the World (London, 1614, Ch. 7), apparently in earnest, asserted that hybrids of all kinds were excluded from Noah’s ark in order to save space, since they could be reproduced later from their non-hybrid parents. He mentions the mule as one such hybrid excluded from the voyage, and added hyenas, which he said were the product of hybridization between fox and wolf.

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Below: A Dhole (Cuon alpinus), an animal that many consider to have the expected appearance of a fox-wolf hybrid.
dhole

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.

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