The term coydog comes from the two words dog and coyote. This is a canine hybrid that is also sometimes referred to as a dogote. Sometimes people wonder if this is a real species of animal or if it is simply a term that people have come up with to describe a dog that has similar features to a coyote. It is, in fact, a real hybrid that breeds both in the wild and in deliberate breeding programs in some areas.
Coydogs are relatively rare as dogs and coyotes have different breeding cycles and coyotes are generally reluctant to mate with dogs. Breeding between the two canine species only usually occurs when coyotes are expanding into new areas and their mating choices are limited. Unfortunately, pup survival rates are still low when breeding takes place, and this is because dogs will not form pair bonds with coyotes. As a result, rearing of coydog pups is more difficult.
It is possible to breed the hybrids for four generations as both sexes are fertile. Breeding of dogs with coyotes is something that has gone on in the United States for thousands of years and the4re is evidence of this taking place as much as 14,000 years ago as the ancestors of the American indigenous people would cross-breed these creatures. This was long before the European colonization of the Americas. It is believed that coyotes inherited their black pelts from dogs that were brought to North America.
One area in which the deliberate breeding of coydogs was particularly popular was in pre-Columbian Mexico. This was because people living there held coyotes in high regard. Those living in the city of Teotihuacan were also fans of cross-breeding coyotes and Mexican gray wolves. They wanted a canine friend that was loyal and would act as a good guardian. Coydogs are sometimes mistaken coywolves, but these are a completely different species. Coywolves are common in North America in comparison to coydogs which are rarely found in the wild.
The Aboriginal population of Northern Canada also bred both wolves and coyotes with their sled dogs. They wanted sled dogs that were more resilient, and this is something that they continued to do right up to the 20th century.
The first generation of hybrids is referred to as F1 hybrids. These are often more problematic than regular dogs. For example, as puppies, they are usually less manageable and more mischievous than dog pups. As adults, coydogs are less trustworthy than both regular dogs and wolf-dog hybrids. F1 coydogs generally take on the coat of a coyote but their physical appearance can take on features of both the coyote and the dog. The variations in F2 coydogs are greater.
A study of the location and incidence of coydogs took place during the 1980s. It found that there was only a high incidence of coydogs in the areas where coyotes had expanded. The same study led to an estimation that there were up to 4,500 coydogs in Illinois based on a coyote population of 30,000. Similarly, 2.6% of the coyotes in Ohio were coydogs and this was discovered and this was discovered through studies of their skulls.