The Truth about Dogs vs. Foxes

There’s no denying the incredible cuteness of a fox cub. Just ask the Shopland family of Whitehorse, Canada, who discovered an adorable “wasteful puppy” in the woods. As CBC reports, after bringing the animal home and treating it, the family were shocked to learn that their little waif was actually a fox. The “snitch” was the pup’s white-tipped tail. Too scarred to return to the wild, the fox now has a permanent home in the Yukon Wildlife Reserve.

Although foxes are beautiful and graceful animals that closely resemble dogs, they are actually very different from your furry friend. Read on to learn more about the difference between foxes and dogs and how you can get a “fox fix” without bringing a wild animal into your home!

How different foxes and dogs are

Taxonomy from Fox via \Wikipedia

Taxonomy by Fox via Wikipedia

Foxes and dogs belong to the same animal family, canids, but his line splits from there. Although dogs are domesticated members of the From the dog Genus foxes belong to several different groups, notFrom the dog genders (this is the plural form of gender). The twelve most common species of “true foxes” belong to the genus vulpes.

What does all this Latin mean? Well, foxes (vulpes) and dogs (canis) are very different creatures. First off, Vulpes are smaller and have flatter skulls than most of their canine cousins. There are several others Main differences between foxes and dogs.:

  • Foxes have a lifespan of only 2-4 years. (although they can live up to 14 years in captivity), while domestic dogs live much longer on average, 10 to 13 years.
  • Foxes are very difficult to train.. While the average companion dog can learn a wide range of commands, foxes have limited skills (in part because they are smart, wild animals with a shorter attention span than domestic dogs).
  • Unlike dogs Foxes cannot be reliably housebroken; Marking (i.e. urinating on things) is a normal and habitual behavior of foxes, with one fox owner describing the smell of fox urine as “cat urine, but a million times worse”. It smells like a skunk, it’s the hottest thing in the universe.
  • While companion dogs are generally social, Foxes are incredibly shy. According to fox expert Sarah Roche, “while foxes often become very affectionate and affectionate with their families, they remain incredibly shy around visitors and strangers,” and this shyness can sometimes lead to biting.

Can you have a fox as a pet?

Wild fox at the British Wildlife Centre, via flickr/peter-trimming

Wild fox at the British Wildlife Centre, via flickr/peter-trimming

It’s natural to want to befriend a fox; after all they are so cute! Depending on the country, state, or city you live in, it may technically be legal to keep a fox as a pet. But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Although domestication efforts have been successful, true foxes are still wild animals and should not be kept indoors.

Real foxes are wild animals and should not be kept indoors.

Even successful people who legally keep foxes as pets advise against it. According to Instagram celebrity mom Juniper the Fox, “a fox is extremely difficult to raise, he’s agile, noisy and smelly.” They get stressed easily; generally does not get along with other resident pets; they require large secure enclosures; they are destructive; and above all they stink! Foxes have a distinctive musky odor (in addition to their pungent urine) and there’s no way you can smell them.

In short, foxes are cute to look at but difficult to care for. For the vast majority of pets, a house dog is a much better option.

Can foxes and dogs have babies?

Short answer: no, they cannot. They just don’t have compatible parts. (Of course, that doesn’t mean they can’t be friends: see Juniper the Fox and Moose the Dog above.)

The longer answer as to why dog-fox hybrids can’t exist relates to the fact that the two species have vastly different chromosome numbers. Foxes and dogs diverged (meaning they moved away from their common ancestor and became separate species) over 7 million years ago and evolved into very different creatures that are unable to breed.

There have been unsubstantiated reports of successful dog-fox hybrids, also known as “doxes”, but such claims are unproven and extremely unlikely. It’s fun to think about; The result would be awfully cute!

Dogs that look like foxes

Do you still find the looks of foxes simply irresistible? There’s a dog for that. As foxes become more popular, domestic dogs with fox-like traits are also becoming common. Spitz dogs are the most cunning, although there are many breeds (not to mention guard dogs!) with pointed ears, curly tails, and bushy fur.

Some of the most fox-like dog breeds are:

  • Shiba Inu, the oldest and smallest Japanese breed known for their smart looks.
  • Finnish Spitz, a lively and alert family dog.
  • Jindo, a loyal and independent dog from Korea.
  • American Eskimo, a nimble companion dog with pointed fox ears.
  • Long Haired Chihuahua Of course, Chihuahuas aren’t as smart as foxes, but some of them have decidedly fox-like snouts and ears.

Foxes are some of the cutest wild animals on earth, but it’s important to remember the “wild” part. The best way to find a real fox is to look at photos and videos online (and support your nearest wildlife sanctuary or sanctuary where a fox or two may live). If you are looking for a little critter to love with a curly tail and pointy ears, consider adopting a dog in the shape of a fox. They’re just as cute and come unscented!

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