Coyote vs Dog: What’s the Difference?

Written by August Croft
Updated: January 23, 2023
© JayPierstorff/Shutterstock.com
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Did you know that there are many similarities between a coyote vs dog? Both of these animals belong to the same genus, which is the canis genus. Wolves and other animals can also be traced to this particular scientific classification, but what are the differences between coyotes and dogs to make them special and individual animals?

In this article, we will address all of these similarities and differences so that you can learn how to tell coyotes and dogs apart. We will also address the preferred habitats, their appearances, and their average lifespans as well as their diets. Let’s get started and learn more about both of these types of dogs now! 

Comparing Coyote vs Dog

coyote vs dog
Coyotes are regarded as wild animals, while dogs are domesticated and meant to be our pets.

©A-Z-Animals.com

CoyoteDog
GenusCanisCanis
Size15-50 pounds5-150 pounds
AppearanceGolden eyes, lean body; huge ears and bushy tail; found in a variety of colors but primarily brown, tan, and redWide variety of appearances depending on specific breed
Location and HabitatNorth and Central America in many habitats, including woodlands and desertsWorldwide as domesticated animals; lives in homes with humans
Lifespan10-15 years8-20 years

Key Differences Between Coyote vs Dog

coyote vs dog
Both coyotes and dogs are omnivorous, but dogs are typically fed domesticated dog food, while coyotes eat rodents, birds, insects, and more out in their wild habitats.

©Derek R. Audette/Shutterstock.com

There are many key differences between coyotes and dogs, the primary one being their domesticated status. Coyotes are regarded as wild animals, while dogs are domesticated and meant to be our pets. The size differences between coyotes and certain species of dogs is also fast, with many dogs far outweighing coyotes. Finally, there are many physical differences between coyotes and dogs, which we will go into in more detail.

Let’s get started and compare these two animals now. 

Coyote vs Dog: Genus and Domesticated Status

coyote vs dog
Coyotes have golden eyes, huge ears compared to the size of their head, and extremely bushy tails, while dogs have a variety of different types of ears and tails.

©Tanya Consaul Photography/Shutterstock.com

One of the primary differences between a coyote vs. dog is their domesticated status. While both of these animals belong to the canis genus, coyotes are considered wild animals, while dogs are domesticated animals. The same can be said for another member of the canis family, the wolf. It is very difficult to domesticate wolves, just like coyotes- dogs do not share this same problem. 

Coyote vs Dog: Physical Appearance and Size

coyote vs dog
Coyotes are only found in brown, tan, or red fur colorings, while dogs are found in countless different color combinations.

©iStock.com/Gary Gray

You will find many differences in physical appearance and size when comparing coyotes and dogs. There are hundreds of dog breeds found around the world, many just as unique as the next, while coyotes maintain an extremely similar appearance no matter where they are located around the world.

For the most part, coyotes are very slender when compared to the physicality of the average dog. Coyotes have golden eyes, huge ears compared to the size of their head, and extremely bushy tails, while dogs have a variety of different types of ears and tails. Coyotes are also only found in brown, tan, or red fur colorings, while dogs are found in countless different color combinations. 

However, when you look at a coyote and a dog side by side, it is obvious that they are from the same genus. The same can be said for wolves as well, given that all of these creatures have similar facial and body structures. However, putting a pug beside a coyote can be a funny sight to see, given just how different they look from one another! 

Coyote vs Dog: Behavior and Diet

A Raggle (Beagle Rat Terrier mix) dog chewing on a bone while sitting on a blanket on cement
 Dogs are incredibly easy to train and domesticate, while coyotes maintain an independent and solitary nature.

©Jennifer Tepp/Shutterstock.com

There are many differences between coyotes vs dogs based on their preferred behavior and dietary preferences. Both coyotes and dogs are omnivorous, but dogs are typically fed domesticated dog food, while coyotes eat rodents, birds, insects, and more out in their wild habitats. 

Similarly to dogs, coyotes enjoy a pack mentality or group of other coyotes to spend their time with. However, coyotes maintain extremely flexible groups of other coyotes, while dogs can be wary of new people joining their packs. Coyotes are also more vocal than dogs as a whole, given that they need to communicate with other members of their pack frequently. 

While coyotes are capable of hunting in groups and working together with other coyotes, many scientists believe that they are less likely to have the ability of following human commands, which makes them extremely different from dogs. Dogs are incredibly easy to train and domesticate, while coyotes maintain an independent and solitary nature. 

Coyote vs Dog: Preferred Habitat and Geographic Location

Wolf vs Dog
Dogs are found throughout the world, in the homes of their owners, while coyotes are only found in North and Central America.

©Mark Byer/Shutterstock.com

Another obvious difference between coyotes and dogs lies in their preferred habitat and geographical location. Dogs are found throughout the world, in the homes of their owners, while coyotes are only found in North and Central America. Coyotes are also very flexible individuals in terms of their habitats, living throughout woodlands and mountains, as well as deserts and coastal regions. Dogs are considered less versatile when compared to coyotes, given their domesticated status and tamed nature. 

Coyote vs Dog: Lifespan

coyote vs dog
The average coyote lives anywhere from 10 to 15 years, while dogs live anywhere from 8 to 20 years.

©iStock.com/JZHunt

The final difference between a coyote vs. dog is their overall life span. Dogs live longer than coyotes on average, given their domesticated status. Many coyotes meet an early fate due to their wild habitats, but some coyotes live a long life. The average coyote lives anywhere from 10 to 15 years, while dogs live anywhere from 8 to 20 years. However, it greatly depends on the specific breed of dog and besides of the dog, while the lifespan of all coyotes remains relatively similar.


The Featured Image

coyote howling from on top of a rock
Climate change has caused some coyotes to interbreed.
© JayPierstorff/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I am a non-binary freelance writer working full-time in Oregon. Graduating Southern Oregon University with a BFA in Theatre and a specialization in creative writing, I have an invested interest in a variety of topics, particularly Pacific Northwest history. When I'm not writing personally or professionally, you can find me camping along the Oregon coast with my high school sweetheart and Chihuahua mix, or in my home kitchen, perfecting recipes in a gleaming cast iron skillet.

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