No, dogs and foxes are unable to breed. And you might be curious as to why. While they come from the same family, there are too many genetical differences between the two. Even if it was genetically possible, there are many reasons why it is unnatural for the two species to naturally mate.
In this post, I will run through all the differences between why a fox and dog are incapable of breeding, and other species which are capable of breeding with domestic dogs.
Can foxes breed with dogs?
While both species come from the Canidae family, it is impossible for the two species to breed because of the number of chromosomes each animal has in their genes.
Domestic dogs have 78 chromosomes (39 pairs), while foxes have 34 chromosomes, with a few B chromosomes. These facts make it impossible for the two species to produce an offspring.
The science behind the impossibility of dogs and foxes producing an offspring
While both species have come from the same family, the species of fox branched off the genetic evolution of wolves over 12 million years ago. This is why foxes are so genetically different from other members of the Canidae family.
Dogs then diverged from the wolf lineage around 40,000 years ago. Then, around 30,000 years ago, dogs were then domesticated.
This has resulted in the dog’s closest ancestor being the modern-day gray wolf.
Different family branches
There are two different branches within the dog family. Even though both are quite similar and even look the same, they are actually very different.
Below is a list of the two branches and species within the branch:
- Bat-eared foxes
- Racoon dog
- African wild dogs
- Common dogs
- Golden Jackals
DNA in Both Dogs and Foxes are Too Different to Breed
Back those 12 million years when the fox parted ways with each other, they went very different ways. This has resulted in a completely different DNA composition, which takes millions of years to happen.
The species are so different that even within the species of fox, there are different types of the fox with a different number of chromosomes, meaning some foxes can’t even breed with other foxes!
Not only do the two species have physical differences, but there are also many behavioral differences too. While foxes are wild, solitary animals, dogs are pack animals and domesticated.
Therefore, even if it was possible that they could, it would be unlikely that they would be of their own accord.
Different Behaviors and Lifespans of the Two Species
Not only is there elementary differences between the dog and fox species, like their DNA composition, but there are other reasons why the two species do not interbreed.
There has been very a careful process put into the selection of domestic dog traits down through the years in order for them to have desirable traits, both physical and behavioral, along with good health. The same can not be said for foxes:
Foxes are not built for training. Domesticated dogs can be trained to a very high standard, and even used in special forces, such as the police, or as guide dogs.
Due to a short attention span and a naturally wild instinct, it is much more difficult to achieve, if not impossible to achieve, the same result with foxes.
Due to such difficulty in training a fox in basic behavior, it is also very difficult to house train a fox. They are territorial, wild animals, so instinctively they will mark their territory which means they are going to pee, everywhere.
Apparently, the smell of fox urine has been described as much, much worse than cat pee, or ‘the most pungent smell in the universe’. It can be smelly enough trying to train a puppy, so house training a fox doesn’t bare to think about.
Foxes are shy
While foxes are very close to their own, such as family and offspring, they are very shy around anyone or thing outside of their immediate group. The lack of trust and shyness causes them to have unsocial behavior with strangers.
While you can most likely pat a dog, you cannot pet a fox without risking yourself.
Another huge difference between the two species is their lifespan. Foxes only live from 2 to 4 years in the wild! Compare this with the 10 to 13-year lifespan of dogs.
It would be very difficult having a family pet with such a short lifespan.
A Fox Would Not Make a Good Pet
Foxes do look really cute, and the thought of a fox-dog hybrid would be really cool to have. Can you imagine calling the name of your fox-dog, like you would call the name of your dog?
But due to their wild nature, a fox would not at all make a good pet.
If you were to make a dog fox hybrid of the two breeds, its offspring would also carry many of the unwanted characteristics that a fox has.
It is even considered illegal to keep a fox as a pet. If you know someone who has had a fox as a pet, this is presumably because they have rescued it when it was a baby and cared for it since, even though this is highly not recommended.
Undesirable behavioral traits
Due to their wild nature, foxes are highly strung animals, who naturally are fighting for survival, and the wild can be a vicious place for these animals.
So naturally, foxes have a tendency to bite, dig constantly and are very easy to stress out.
Their nature has taught them to distrust other animals that are not the same as them so they will be very unlikely to get on with other pets and would need a very large enclosure.
Don’t forget the saying ‘as cunning as a fox’!
Due to the fact that people haven’t spent much time in close proximity to foxes, it is easy to assume that foxes would smell similar to our well-groomed pooches.
The opposite is actually true.
The urine of a fox is not the only thing that smells, they carry a highly pungent and musky odor. Imagine how hard it already it having to remove skunk smells from your sprayed dog. A fox peeing is impossible to avoid and there is no way that you can get rid of the smell.
While Some Dogs Look Like Foxes, They Aren’t
Some people have thought in the past that their breed of dog has descended from that of a fox, but this is in fact, untrue. The truth is that certain dog breeds have just been bred in a way that makes them look like a fox.
Dog Breeds that Resemble Foxes
- Shiba Inu: This breed of dog is very confident and strong-willed. This makes it, less suitable for first-time dog owners.
- Icelandic Sheepdog: This breed has very similar facial characteristics to that of a fox, but opposite in behavioral characteristics, as they are very friendly and have a loyal nature.
- Finnish Spritz: Again, they have similar physical characteristics, but this breed is very calm and friendly, unlike the fox.
- Pembroke Welsh Corgi: This was originally bred as a herding dog, giving them very hardworking and obedient characteristics.
- Canaan Dog: This breed is actually a type of wild dog that has been trained to work for security services, but this goes back to the israelites.
- Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever: This breed has been bred to look like a fox, and can be highly-strung like a fox, needing lots of exercise, but they are loyal creatures, unlike the fox.
- Schipperke: Again, this breed has lots of energy and needs lots of eercise, but they are suitable for apartment living.
- Basenji: A clean dog breed, who are great with children, both characteristics far from those of a fox.
Dogs are Descendants of Wolves, Not Foxes
Even though the appearance of different dogs differs hugely, they have all descended from wolves many thousand years ago.
It is believed to be true that features such as curly tails, floppy ears, and other cute features were characteristic of friendly dogs. These would then have gained prominence in pet dogs as they became human allies, who began to selectively breed.
Selective breeding down through the years is truly fascinating, particularly when you compare any dog to the list of species that dogs are similar to and even capable to mate with, such as a wolf. Thousands of years of domestication has resulted in these beautiful, easily-trained, friendly creatures.
Unfortunately, aggression and temper in dogs are seen as desirable traits in some people. As a result, the same is true for these characteristics, where some dogs have been trained to behave in such a manner.
Dogs have the Ability to Breed with Wolves
While dog-fox hybrids are impossible, the same cannot be said for a dog-wolf hybrid. This is because dogs and wolves have followed the same evolution path, which allows them to create an offspring, which also has the ability to breed itself.
If a horse and a donkey were to mate, their offspring is called a mule. Mules are actually unable to breed themselves making them barren. This is due to one extra chromosome which is inherited from the horse’s genes.
Unlike mules, the dog-wolf hybrid is actually capable of having babies!
While they have the ability to breed, wolves – like foxes – are a wild animal and are likely to come across similar problems if trying to breed them. Both species have different breeding patterns and wolves are wild territorial animals.
In areas of the world where dogs and wolves live in close proximity, it sometimes occurs that some wilder dogs living closely to wolves would end up mating.
Due to the shy nature of these wild animals, they generally keep their distance from other animals and people. There are people who intentionally breed dogs and wolves.
Can a Fox and a Dog Breed: FAQs
Thanks to their same number of chromosomes, it is possible for wolves and dogs to produce offspring which is also capable of breeding themselves.
No, because dogs and foxes cannot create offspring together.
Can foxes breed with dogs – No, and for good reason!
Foxes are beautiful creatures, but their cunning, vicious temperament make them highly unsuitable as a pet. Not to forget the smell they would leave! It is also important to note that it would be highly unethical because these are wild animals.
Foxes are better admired from afar and let be. Not only can they not mate with domestic dogs, they are also not made for domestic life.
Hope that helps!