Raccoon Dog Vs Raccoon: What Are the Differences?

Written by Kyle Glatz
Published: March 1, 2022
© iStock.com/sduben
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Raccoon dogs are unusual because they are neither a raccoon nor a dog, but they share a similar look to their namesake. Although they belong to the canine family, they’re more closely related to true foxes than they are dogs. Raccoons are rather unique, mostly nocturnal creatures with distinct facial markings and a penchant for getting into your trash. Since they look so much alike, we need to show you the differences between a raccoon dog vs raccoon.

We’ll take a closer look at these mammals and help you differentiate them by looks and other biological information.

Comparing a Raccoon Dog and a Raccoon


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Raccoon Dog Raccoon
SizeWeight: 6.6lbs-22lbs
Height: 7in-12in
Length: 19in-26in
Weight: 7lbs-19.8lbs
Height: 9in-12in
Length: 16in-28in
Morphology– Similar colors to a raccoon with the black markings around eyes, light muzzle, and small black nose
– Paws that are not dexterous
– Large round ear shape
Dark brown, black, brownish-gray fur, yellow-brown underside
– Bushy tails with solid dark color
Iconic dark spots over eyes, small black nose, and light muzzle
Extremely dexterous paws that are used for eating and grooming.
– Narrow, round ear shape
– Primarily gray fur coat with black, and light gray mixed into it
– Bushy tails with alternating coat colors
FamilyCanidae, closer related to foxes than dogsProcyonidae
Winter BehaviorHibernate – The only hibernating caninesBurrows in a den but remains active
RangeEurope and EurasiaThe Americas, Western Europe

The 6 Key Differences Between Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon

Raccoon dog in Belarus
Raccoon dogs can look very similar to their namesakes, raccoons.

©Film Studio Aves/Shutterstock.com

The key differences between a raccoon dog and a raccoon are their families, morphology, and size. Raccoon dogs are part of the Canidae family, and raccoons are members of the Procyonidae family.

Raccoon dogs have similar coloring on their faces as raccoons, with distinctive black markings around their eyes, a light muzzle, and a small black nose. That is the same as a raccoon, and their heads look very similar overall. Raccoon dogs have paws like a dog, but a raccoon has very dexterous paws that allow it to pick up and eat food, only lacking opposable thumbs.

Raccoon dogs are heavier than raccoons, but raccoons are usually longer and taller on average than raccoon dogs. A raccoon dog has a very compact chest area, and that contributes to its higher average weight and smaller size.

These differences between the animals are the most significant, but it’s important that we examine several others.

Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon: Size

Raccoon dogs are smaller than raccoons, but they weigh more than raccoons on average. Raccoon dogs weigh between 6lbs and 22lbs, stand 12 inches tall, and grow 26 inches in length. However, raccoons weigh up to 19lbs, stand 12 inches tall, and grow 28 inches in length.

Interestingly, raccoons have a higher average height compared to raccoon dogs, and they often grow longer than them overall due to their long bodies and tails.

Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon: Morphology

Raccoon dog on grass seen from profile
Raccoon dogs have different paws, colors, and tails than raccoons.

©Christian Musat/Shutterstock.com

Raccoon dogs are known for having the same facial markings like a raccoon, with black markings around the eyes, a light muzzle, and a small black nose. Since raccoon dogs are more closely related to foxes than canine dogs, their faces also have a somewhat triangular quality to them, roughly the same shape as raccoons.

Looking beyond their faces, you can easily tell the differences between a raccoon dog and a raccoon. For example, raccoon dogs have large, round ears, but raccoons have narrower ears that are rounded on the end.

Also, raccoon dogs have different color schemes than raccoons, with dark brown, black, and brownish-gray fur comprising most of their body color. They also have a distinct yellow-brown underside. However, raccoons are primarily gray, and they have black and light gray mixed into their fur.

Lastly, raccoon dogs have bushy tails that are one solid, dark color. Raccoon tails are bushy with alternating colors running the length of the tail. The morphological differences between raccoon dogs and raccoons are very noticeable when you know what specific factors to focus upon.

Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon: Family

Raccoon dogs are from the Canidae family, while raccoons are from the Procyonidae family. They are not related to one another. Raccoon dogs are also not dogs – they’re more closely related to foxes than dogs.

Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon: Winter Behavior

Animals That Stay Up All Night - Raccoon
Raccoons often make burrows in tree hollows


Raccoon dogs are the only canine that hibernates during the winter. They do not become dormant, though. They simply lower the amount of activity in which they partake, and their bodies undergo dramatic metabolic changes.

Raccoons do not hibernate, but they spend a lot more time in their burrows during the colder months to avoid the harsh winters in the areas in which they live.

Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon: Diet

Raccoon dogs are strict carnivores that eat small animals like birds, insects, snakes, mice, and frogs. They are good swimmers, so they will often catch fish, crabs, and frogs in streams.  

Raccoons are omnivores that will make a meal out of almost anything including berries, nuts, fish, eggs, and more. They have a unique habit of trying to wash their food before they consume it, using their dexterous paws to swish the food in puddles of water.

Both animals share a tendency to live near urban areas where humans are common, and they do this so they can find food when there is not enough wildlife to supplement their diets. Sightings of these animals have led to the myth that raccoon dogs are dogs that interbred with local raccoons.

Raccoon Dog vs Raccoon: Range

baby racoon in a tree
Raccoons live in the Americas as well as Europe

©Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

Raccoon dogs live in Europe and Eurasia, and they are a common sight in countries like Germany and Poland. They are considered an invasive species by many nations because of their habit of wiping out populations of small creatures.

Raccoons live in the Americas and western Europe, much of the same area that raccoon dogs live in. They are often branded pests by people because they get into their trash and make a mess in pursuit of food.

Raccoons and raccoon dogs are easy to confuse for one another. However, if you know what to look for on their bodies and understand their behaviors, it’s easy to confidently tell them apart.  

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raccoon dog on snowy hill
This masked animal is, not surprisingly, commonly mistaken for a raccoon.
© iStock.com/sduben

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About the Author

I've been a freelance writer since 2013, and I've written in a variety of niches such as managed service providers, animals, and retail distribution. I graduated from Rowan University in 2014. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games, reading, and writing for fun.

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