When most people think of wild dogs they think about wolves, but wolves aren’t the only wild dogs. Coyotes are also wild dogs that live in most parts of the United States.
There are some major differences between big dogs and Coyotes and if they meet up, the fate of your large dog may depend on you understanding those differences.
Dogs are bred in many different sizes. Big dogs are at the larger end of the size spectrum and for our purposes we consider big dogs to be over 50 pounds. There are also giant breed dogs that are considered big and these dogs can weigh up to 175 pounds!
Popular big dog breeds include Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, and German Shepherds. Big dog breeds vary widely in personality types. exercise, and grooming requirements.
A Coyote is a highly adaptable wild dog that can live up to 14 years.
These are usually medium size animals and can weigh between 20 and 50 pounds – about the size of a medium breed dog like a Cocker Spaniel. Coyotes have thick fur, bushy tails, yellow eyes, lean bodies, and narrow snouts.
Coyotes have litters of up to 6 pups in the springtime and are taken care of by both the male and female members of the pack.
Coyotes don’t typically hunt in packs, but they will pair up to take down prey animals. Coyotes eat almost anything including rabbits, fish, rodents, frogs, and sometimes even deer. They’ll eat animals they kill, but will also eat carrion as well.
Because coyotes aren’t picky about what they eat they can live almost anywhere, including in urban environments. They thrive in the rural areas, but also large cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.
Animals that will kill coyotes include wolves, cougars, black bears, and grizzly bears. Sometimes Golden Eagles will eat coyote puppies.
How Are They Different?
The biggest difference between coyotes and big dogs is that big dogs are domesticated and coyotes are wild animals. That means that big dogs are both friendly with and mostly dependent on humans for survival. Coyotes don’t like people and they don’t need us to survive.
Big dogs are also almost always larger than coyotes in body size than coyotes, and giant breed dogs like Great Danes and Mastiffs tower over coyotes.
How Are They Similar?
Coyotes and big dogs are both canines. They are both relatives of jackals, foxes, and wolves.
Both types of animals prefer a meat-based diet but can eat other things, and they are both social. Coyotes prefer to be with their families and big dogs prefer to be with other dogs and their humans.
Coyotes are far more likely to attack small breed dogs than big breed dogs and when they attack small breed dogs the attacks can often be fatal.
According to Urban Coyote Research, which has studied coyote attacks in the metro Chicago area, attacks on big dogs are rare, and when coyotes do attack big dogs they tend to hunt in alpha male pairs. Here’s what their research revealed:
“Almost 30 different breeds of dog were reported to have been attacked by coyotes. Smaller breed dogs were attacked more often than medium and large-sized dogs, with 20 small breeds, 3 medium breeds, and 6 large breeds attacked. Although smaller breeds are more commonly attacked, larger breeds, such as Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers, have also been attacked in the Chicago metropolitan area. Larger breeds of dog were usually attacked by two or more coyotes, often alpha pairs, at a time.”
It’s important to bear in mind that, as wild animals, coyotes are bred to hunt and are extremely strong for their size. Even a large breed dog will have its hands full if attacked by a 40 or 50-pound coyote. If attacked by two large coyotes, your large breed dog will almost certainly lose the fight.
Of course, a 175-pound Mastiff is likely a different story!
Although coyotes rarely attack humans they will attack dogs when humans are around. Don’t think that your presence alone will be enough to deter these impressive animals.
When do Coyotes Attack?
Coyotes most commonly attach dogs in the wintertime because it corresponds with their breeding season.
Coyote breeding season is from January to March each year. If you live in an area that has a lot of coyotes it’s important to pay extra attention in the wintertime.
Coyotes rarely attack humans, but if you live in an area that has a lot of coyote activity then you will want to take precautions with your dog.
Supervise your dog outdoors and make sure they are on a leash when you are walking them. You can also carry a stick, mace, or noisemaker in case of an attack.
A tall fence can also help to protect your dog, in the backyard but it needs to be at least six feet tall and have a roll bar on the top.
Coyotes are the most active at dawn and dusk, so these are important parts of the days to be aware of your surroundings and to keep your eyes and ears out for these animals.
Coyotes will mostly try to avoid humans. But if you do see a coyote often scaring it with loud noises will make it back down and go away.
Like many other animals, coyotes will hang out where the food is located. The best way to prevent coyote attacks is to make sure that you aren’t feeding the animals. Don’t put food out for them and secure your trash containers so that they can’t get into them.