Difference Between Dogs and Coyotes (With Table)

Dogs and Coyote both belonging to the same genus(Canis) and are both technically dogs. The former being most probably the first animal tamed by humans, the latter is depicted as a trickster in Native American folklore.

Dogs vs Coyotes

The difference between Dogs and Coyote is that while both arose from Wolves through genetical divergence, the former is mostly found in domesticated areas in human contact while the latter lives in the wild, thus having behavioral differences accordingly.

Dogs are usually found in the domesticated area, while Coyote lives in the wild.Dogs(Canis lupus familiaris), coyotes (Canis latrans) both are closely related to wolves(Canis lupus).

While many scientists believe that dogs were domesticated 15,000 years ago, some biologists argue that dogs were domesticated as long as 30,000 years ago. Many researchers claim from DNA evidence that dogs originated in East Asia, Mongolia, Siberia, Europe, and Africa.

Domestic dogs are believed to be a result of genetic divergence from the wolf, its domestication, and development into dog types in the late Pleistocene era. Dogs are widely distributed throughout the world.

The fossil record shows that Coyotes were present in the early Pleistocene period. Modern Coyotes are believed to have arisen 1,000 years after the Quaternary extinction event. Coyotes were first scientifically described by naturalist Thomas Say in September 1819 near the Missouri River. Also known as prairie wolf or brush wolf, Coyotes are native to North America and widely distributed in North America, Mexico, Canada, and Central America.

Comparison Table Between Dog and Coyote

Parameter of ComparisonDogsCoyote
HabitatDogs are mostly found in domesticated areas close to human.Coyote lives close to nature in wild.
AppearanceThey seem to have shorter legs than Coyote. This is because Dog`s elbow is higher than its line of the sternum.They seem to have longer legs because their elbow is lower than its line of the sternum.
Geographical distributionDogs are found worldwide.Coyotes are found only in North America, Mexico, and South America.
Food HabitsThough Carnivorous, Domestic dogs may eat plant-based food, raw meat, and some human food too. Wild Dogs eat a variety of food comprising mainly of prey animals.Coyotes eat depending on what is easily available including rabbits, rodents, birds, vegetation.
CharacteristicsDogs are known for being faithful, intelligent, and protective of their masters.Coyotes are known for hunting at night, howling at moonlight, and being smart.

 What is Dog?

The dog is a subspecies of the gray wolf(Canis lupus) the scientific name of which is Canis lupus familiaris. Dogs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, but they are all genetically identical. Dogs consist of 319 bones, but if his tail is docked or absent at birth, there are obviously fewer bones.

Dog’s skull generally has a pronounced bulge over optical orbits where sinuses are located. Hairs cover their whole body, which most dogs shed seasonally. As they are found worldwide, temperature influences the amount of body coat a dog grows. So, Dogs in colder areas have more amount of protective undercoat. Dogs come in a wide variety of colors depending on their breeds. Dogs usually live for 10-13 years.

Dogs are the most popular domestic animals. Wild dogs exist too but because maximum dogs live in human contact, dogs are known for their trustworthy, protective, adorable, and friendly nature. They have played a huge role in human civilization, be it being a hunting partner in the past or being a companion in the modern era. 

Dogs have the same five senses like that of humans, in which smell and hearing sense is most acute and immensely better than humans. Dogs are used for tracking missing persons, digging underground, and detecting drugs, explosives, toxic substances that are undetectable by humans.

What is Coyote?

Coyote(Canis latrans), also called prairie wolf or brush wolf is smaller and lighter than a wolf. Generally found in North America, especially in the Great Plains has now expanded its range throughout the United States and Canada. Ignoring local variations, the Coyote stands 60cm on the shoulder, is 3.3-4.3feet long including its bushy 30-40cm tall and weighs about 9-23kg.

The topmost part of the Coyote skull almost forms a convex curve from the rear of the skull to the middle of the nasal bone. They have narrow, elongated, lean bodies, yellow eyes. Thick fur covers their body which helps to keep them warm throughout the winter.

Living in the wild, most coyotes survive up to 8years, while in captivity they can live up to 20years. Possessing a heightened sense of hearing, smell, and sight, they are very smart creatures. It has long been persecuted because of its predation on domestic or game animals or pet animals, known for their cunningness and swiftness.

They also cause damage to fields of ripe watermelon, honeydew, and other market fruits. They usually fear humans and avoid them but there are some rare records of coyote attacks on humans. The human also has been their greatest threat especially in rural areas due to hunting or trapping.

Main Differences Between Dogs and Coyotes

  1. Dogs are mostly found in domestic habitats, whereas Coyote lives in wild, which is also the reason for their lower life period. 
  2. By appearance, Dogs have shorter legs than coyotes, because the dog`s elbow is higher than its line of the sternum, while the coyote`s elbow is lower than its line of the sternum.
  3. Based on geographical distribution, dogs are found worldwide, while Coyote can only be seen in the United States, Mexico, and Canada.
  4. Based on food habits, wild dogs feed mostly on prey animals while domestic dogs eat human foods like vegetation based or meat.
  5. Based on personality, Dogs are known to be a friendly, protective, trustworthy creature, whereas Coyote is seen to be cunning, smart, and night howlers.
  6. The skull of a coyote is thinner, crests longer, and lighter in weight than that in dogs.


Although Dogs and coyotes are both believed to have evolved from wolves, they possess very different characteristics and behavior, largely due to the influence of habitat and human contact. Sometimes peoples get confused between the two or especially between Coyote and Wild Dogs but they too vary greatly in feeding habits and body structure.

Dogs are found worldwide in a huge number of breeds, whereas Coyotes are confined in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. So, taking into account these huge differences, Dogs and Coyotes should not be confused.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/mec.12570
  2. https://academic.oup.com/jmammal/article-abstract/52/2/316/858311
2D vs 3D