What Is the Difference Between a Coyote and a Dog?

difference-between-coyote-dog Credit: Larry Lamsa/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

The two main differences between a coyote and a dog involve the tails and the tracks. Coyotes usually hold their tails down, while dogs hold theirs up in the air. While a coyote's track is oval with the nails pointed inward, a dog's track is round with the nails pointed outward. Coyote tracks also tend to follow a straight line.

The coyote is a member of the canine family, and its typical size is similar to a that of a small- to medium-sized German Shepherd. The average weight of the coyote is 25-30 pounds, but some individuals can reach 55 pounds. Coyotes have thick fur, pointed ears and a narrow snout.

Coyotes usually hunt in pairs, typically at night, and they can eat almost anything. Their preferred prey are rabbits, mice and other small mammals. They also eat berries, birds, frogs, insects and carrion. Coyotes are very vocal and communicate with high-pitched barks, howls and yips.

Coyote mating season is between late January and early March. The litter is born 60-63 days after breading and can include as many as 19 pups, though the typical size of a litter is five to six pups. Coyotes are naturally afraid of humans, so they rarely attack people. However, they often attack cats and small dogs.