Canid hybrid

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Canid hybrids are the result of interbreeding between different species of the canine (dog) family (Canidae). They often occur in the wild, in particular between domestic or feral dogs and wild native canid.[1]

Genetic considerations[edit]

Members of the dog genus Canis: wolves, domestic dogs, dingoes, Ethiopian Wolves,[2] coyotes, and golden jackals cannot interbreed with members of the wider dog family: the Canidae, such as South American canids, foxes, African wild dogs, bat-eared foxes or raccoon dogs; or, if they could, their offspring would be infertile.

Members of the genus Canis can, however, all interbreed to produce fertile offspring,[3] with two exceptions: the side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal.[4] Although these two theoretically could interbreed with each other to produce fertile offspring, it appears they cannot hybridize successfully with the rest of the genus Canis.[5]

When the differences in number and arrangement of chromosomes is too great, hybridization becomes less and less likely. The wolf, dingo, dog, coyote, and golden jackal diverged relatively recently, around three to four million years ago, and all have 78 chromosomes arranged in 39 pairs.[6] This allows them to hybridize freely (barring size or behavioral constraints) and produce fertile offspring. The side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal both have 74 chromosomes.[7] Other members of the Canidae family, which diverged seven to ten million years ago, are less closely related to and cannot hybridize with the wolf-like canids;[6] the red fox has 34 metacentric chromosomes and from 0 to 8 small B chromosomes,[8] the raccoon dog has 42 chromosomes, the fennec fox has 64 chromosomes. The African wild dog, however, still has the same number, 78 chromosomes, as do the wolf-like canids but it has yet to hybridize with any of them.[9]

Legal implications of hybrids[edit]

Dog hybrids kept as pets are prohibited in certain jurisdictions, or are classed as wild animals and must be housed in the same way as purebred wolves.

In the United States legislation differs greatly from state to state. In New York, the law does not allow an individual to house or own a dog hybrid of any kind, even if there is a low percentage of wolf genes in the hybrid.[10] States such as Indiana and Arkansas allow the ownership of hybrid animals, but they regulate it strictly with health records, immunization records, and registration of the animal.[11] While other states, such as Arizona, do not have any laws about owning a wolfdog hybrid.[11] Each state has created their own laws regarding the issue of wolfdog hybrids depending on what the state feels is best for the safety of the individuals living within the state boundaries.

Wolf hybrids[edit]

Main article: Wolf hybrid

Wolfdog Hybrid[edit]

Main article: Wolfdog

The domestic dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domesticated form of the gray wolf (Canis lupus lupus) and therefore belongs to the same species as other wolves, such as the dingo (Canis lupus dingo). Therefore, crosses between these sub-species are unremarkable and not a hybridization in the same sense as an interbreeding between different species of Canidae.[citation needed]

Wolves are different from domestic dogs in the fact that wolves usually have slimmer chests, longer legs, and they also have stronger jaws than that of their domestic subspecies.[12] The difference in appearance from the wolf to the domestic dog becomes even larger when you create a mix of the two animals. Wolfdogs do not have one common description of their appearance because it varies from one breeding cycle to the next.[12] It differs from cycle to cycle because the amount of "wolf blood," or the amount of wolf genes inherited, in the animal differs greatly and is recorded in a percentage form. The general layout for describing the percentage of wolfdogs is as follows: 1-49% is considered low content (LC), 50-74% is considered to be mid-content (MC), and 75% and higher is considered to be high content (HC).[13] The percentage of the amount of wolf in a wolfdog decides what the animal will look like. For example, if a wolfdog is 25% husky and 75% wolf, it will appear more like a wolf than a husky because it contains more genes from the wolf.[10] This means that the appearance of the wolfdog will most likely contain a narrower chest, longer legs, and sharper teeth because it inherited more traits from the wolf parent.[14]

People wanting to improve domestic dogs or create an exotic pet may breed domestic dogs to wolves. Gray wolves have been crossed with dogs that have a wolf-like appearance, such as Siberian huskies, and Alaskan malamutes. The breeding of wolf–dog crosses is controversial, with opponents purporting that it produces an animal unfit as a domestic pet. A number of wolfdog breeds are in development. The first generation crosses (one wolf parent, one dog parent) generally are backcrossed to domestic dogs to maintain a domestic temperament and consistent conformation. First-generation wolf–dog crosses are popular in the United States, but they retain many wolf-like traits.

Dingo hybrids[edit]

A "dingo" with an unusual color pattern

The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) breeds freely with other domestic dogs. This is now so widespread that in some areas, dingoes are now mostly mixed-breed dogs, crossed in recent times with dogs from other parts of the world. However, DNA study shows that "the dingo originates from domesticated dogs, originally from East Asia"[15] (which reverted to the wild) and so interbreeding between dingos and other domestic dogs is also not a hybridization in the same sense as an interbreeding between different species of Canidae.

Some dingo hybrids have been deliberately bred as pets but turned loose due to behavioral problems.[citation needed] These cross-breeds are accepted back into the wild dingo population, where they breed with pure dingoes. In some parts of Australia, up to 80% of dingoes are part domestic dog. Dingoes are distinguishable from domestic dogs through DNA and through having longer teeth and longer muzzles.

The Australian kelpie sheepdog is widely believed to be the result of crossing dingos with English herding dogs, but this (the dingo blood) is not upheld by breed documentation.[who?] The Australian cattle dog breed is known to have been influenced by the dingo.

According to the partwork "Animal Life and the World of Nature" (Vol 1, 1902 – 1903), Lord Walter Rothschild owned a dingo–wolf cross, bred by Mr. and Mrs. HC Brooke from a tame male dingo and a semi-tame female wolf.

In the United States, there is a variety of dingo known as a Carolina dog. Brought over by native peoples migrating from Asia, it is almost identical to the Australian dingo.[citation needed] While once very common in the American south, it was collected and bred for herding. Now possibly extinct in the wild, thousands remain in captivity, some of them crossed with dogs of other breeds to experiment with making them smaller.

Coyote Hybrids[edit]

Coyote–dog hybrid[edit]

Two separate terms have been invented, coydog and dogote, as the customary naming for hybrid animals is to derive the first portion of the name from the father and the second from the mother (cf. liger vs. tigon).[citation needed] A major difference between the two is logically the birthplace of the offspring: a female coyote would give birth in the wild and a female dog, unless feral herself, would give birth domestically.

Coydog[edit]

Main article: Coydog

Coydogs (the offspring of a male coyote and female dog) were once believed to be present in large numbers in Pennsylvania due to a declining coyote population and a burgeoning domestic dog population.[citation needed] Most supposed hybrids were naturally occurring red or blond color variations of the coyote or were feral dogs. The breeding cycles of dogs and coyotes are not synchronized and this makes interbreeding uncommon. If interbreeding had been common, each successive generation of the coyote population would have acquired more and more dog-like traits.

Coyotes are solitary by nature, a trait carried over to coydog hybrids.[citation needed] This can result in problematic and unsociable behavior that makes them generally unsuitable as pets.[citation needed] As a result, they may be abandoned or allowed to stray and be absorbed into the feral dog or coyote population.[citation needed] However, if the coyote (or dogote) is found at a very young age and raised properly, it can become a pet.[citation needed] Much time and effort must be invested for this to occur.[citation needed]

Coywolves[edit]

Main article: Coywolf

Hybridization between gray wolf and coyote has long been recognized both in the wild and in captivity. In an evolutionary biology research conducted by a team of researchers in the Uppsala University, analysis of control region haplotypes of the mitochondrial DNA and sex chromosomes from Mexican wolves, a critically endangered subspecies of the grey wolf once nearly driven to extinction in the wild, confirmed the presence of coyote markers in some of the wolves.[16] The study suggests that at some point in time, female coyotes managed to mate with some of the male wolves of the remnant wild Mexican wolf populations. Analysis on the haplotype of some coyotes from Texas also detected the presence of male wolf introgression such as Y chromosomes from the grey wolves in the southern coyotes. In one cryptology investigation on a corpse of what was initially labelled as a chupacabra, examinations conducted by the UC Davis team and the Texas State University concluded based on the sex chromosomes that the male animal was in fact another coyote and wolf hybrid sired by a male Mexican wolf.[17]

All existing red wolves have coyote/wolf hybrid genes.

DNA analysis consistently shows that all existing red wolves carry coyote genes, though it is not known if this is a result of recent habitat destruction by man, or whether Red Wolves have always been hybrids.[citation needed] This has caused a problem for Canid taxonomy, as hybrids are not normally thought of as species, though the convention is to continue to refer to red wolves as a subspecies of wolf, Canis lupus rufus, with no mention of the coyote taxon, latrans.[18][19]

In recent history, the taxonomic status of the red wolf has been widely debated. Mech (1970) suggested that red wolves may be fertile hybrid offspring from gray wolf (Canis lupus) and coyote (C. latrans) interbreeding. Wayne and Jenks (1991) and Roy et al. (1994b, 1996) supported this suggestion with genetic analysis. Phillips and Henry (1992) present logic supporting the contention that the red wolf is a subspecies of gray wolf. However, recent genetic and morphological evidence suggests that the red wolf is a unique taxon. Wilson et al. (2000) report that gray wolves (Canis lupus lycaon) in southern Ontario appear genetically very similar to the red wolf and that these two canids may be subspecies of one another and not a subspecies of gray wolf. Wilson et al. (2000) propose that red wolves and C. lupus lycaon should be a separate species, C. lycaon, with their minor differences acknowledged via subspecies designation. A recent meeting of North American wolf biologists and geneticists also concluded that C. rufus and C. lupus lycaon were genetically more similar to each other than either was to C. lupus or C. latrans (B.T. Kelly unpubl.). Recent morphometric analyses of skulls also indicate that the red wolf is likely not to be a gray wolf–coyote hybrid (Nowak 2002). Therefore, while the red wolf's taxonomic status remains unclear, there is mounting evidence to support C. rufus as a unique canid taxon.[20]

Many animals commonly referred to as "eastern coyotes" or "northeastern coyotes" have wolf and dog genes, a larger size and a more wolf-like skull shape than other coyotes.[citation needed] This has become a problem for taxonomists, as it is unclear what new taxon will be used to refer to this new population of animals.[21]

Jackal hybrids[edit]

Main article: Jackal–dog hybrid

The wolf and golden jackal can interbreed and produce fertile hybrid offspring, which are sometimes known as huskals.[citation needed]

Coyote–jackal hybrids have also been bred as pets by wolfdog enthusiasts.[citation needed]

  • It is also thought that Pharoanic Egyptians crossbred domestic dogs with jackals, producing a jackal-dog that resembled the god Anubis.[citation needed]

Several years ago I saw confined in the Zoological Gardens of London a female hybrid from an English dog and jackal, which even in this the first generation was so sterile that, as I was assured by her keeper, she did not fully exhibit her proper periods; but this case, from numerous instances have occurred of fertile hybrids from these two animals, was certainly exceptional.[22]

  • Robert Armitage Sterndale mentioned experimental golden jackal/dog hybrids from British India in his Natural History of Mammals in India and Ceylon, noting that glaring jackal traits could be exhibited in hybrids even after three generations of crossing them with dogs[23]
  • In Russia, golden jackal/Lapponian herder hybrids were bred as sniffer dogs because jackals have a superior sense of smell and Lapponian herders are good cold climate dogs. Also, fox terrier, Norwegian lundehund, and Spitz blood were combined to create the Sulimov dog.[24] As well as a superior sense of smell, important at low temperatures where substances are less volatile and therefore less pungent, Sulimov dogs are small-sized and can work in confined spaces. When tired, their normally curled tails droop, making it clear to the handler that the dog needs to be rested. The jackal hybrids were bred by Klim Sulimov, senior research assistant at the D.S. Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection in Russia. Male jackal pups had to be fostered on a husky bitch in order to imprint the jackals on dogs. Female jackals accepted male huskies more readily. The half-bred jackal-dogs were difficult to train and were bred back to huskies to produce quarter-bred hybrids (quadroons). These hybrids were small, agile, trainable and had an excellent sense of smell. Twenty-five jackal-dog hybrids are used by Aeroflot at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow for functions including bomb-sniffing. Their breeding program dates back to 1975, but it was not applied to bomb detection until 2002.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Review of articles on Dog hybridisation in the wild
  2. ^ Sillero-Zubiri, Claudio; MacDonald, David (1997). Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan: The Ethiopian Wolf. Cambridge, UK: IUCN. p. 31. ISBN 2-8317-0407-3. Retrieved 9 August 2012. "“The Ethiopian wolf is closely related to the grey wolf and coyote and can hybridize with domestic dogs (Gottelli et al. 1994, Chapter 5).”" 
  3. ^ Freeman, R.C.; Shaw, J.H. (15 September 1979). "Hybridization in Canis (Canidae) in Oklahoma". The Southwestern Naturalist 24 (3): 485–499. JSTOR 3671304. 
  4. ^ Greyling, L.M.; Van Der Bank, H.F., Grobler, P.J. & Kotze, A. (2004). "Genetic characterisation of a domestic dog Canis familiaris breed endemic to South African rural areas". Acta Theriologica 49: 369–382. doi:10.1007/bf03192535. 
  5. ^ Wayne, R.K.; Meyer, A., Lehman, N., van Valkeburgh, B., Kat, P.W., Fuller, T.K., Girman, D. & O'Brien, S.J. (1990). "Large sequence divergence among mitochondrial DNA genotypes within populations of eastern African black-backed jackals". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 87: 1772–1776. doi:10.1073/pnas.87.5.1772. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Wayne, R.K.. Avise, J.C. & Hamerick, J.L., ed. Conservation genetics: case histories from nature. Norwell, Massachusetts, USA: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 75–118. ISBN 0-412-05581-3. 
  7. ^ Wayne, R.K.; Nash, W.G. & O'Brien, S.J. (1987). "Chromosomal evolution of the Canidae. I. Species with high diploid numbers". Cytogenetics and Cell Genetics 44 ((2-3)): 123–133. PMID 3568761. 
  8. ^ http://cbsu.tc.cornell.edu/ccgr/behaviour/Fox_Genome.htm
  9. ^ Sillero-Zubiri, Claudio; Hoffmann, Michael J.; Dave Mech (2004). Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs: Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. World Conservation Union. ISBN 2-8317-0786-2. [page needed]
  10. ^ a b http://www.adirondackwildlife.org/Cree012807BillW.html. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  11. ^ a b http://www.hybridlaw.com/index.php. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  12. ^ a b Willems,Robert A. (2013).http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/newsletters/v5n4/5n4wille.htm#toc3. Animal Welfare Information Center Newsletter, Volume 5, Number 4, Winter 1994/1995. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  13. ^ http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/w/wolfdog.htm. Retrieved 16 September 2013.
  14. ^ http://www.adirondackwildlife.org/Cree012807BillW.html. retrieved 16 September 2013.
  15. ^ Chan, Juliana (September 9, 2011). "Crikey! The Native Australian Dingo Was Originally From South China?". Asian Scientist Magazine. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Hailer, Frank; Leonard, Jennifer A. (2013). "Hybridization among Three Native North American Canis Species in a Region of Natural Sympatry". plosone.org. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  17. ^ "UC-Davis team says chupacabra is likely coyote, wolf mix". KENS. February 1, 2008. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  18. ^ Wayne, Bob (2008). "Red Wolves: to Conserve or not to Conserve". canids.org. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  19. ^ "Mammal Species of the World : Lupus". Bucknell University. 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  20. ^ E.M. Gese & M. Bekoff (2008). Chapter 4. Central and North America (Nearctic). "Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs - 2004 Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan". canids.org. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  21. ^ Grondahl, Paul (August 11, 2010). "The yowl of the suburbs". Times Union. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  22. ^ Darwin, Charles (1868). The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication. Volume 1 (1st ed.). London: John Murray. pp. 32–33. 
  23. ^ NATURAL HISTORY OF THE MAMMALIA OF INDIA AND CEYLON by Robert A. Sterndale, THACKER, SPINK, AND CO. BOMBAY: THACKER AND CO., LIMITED. LONDON: W. THACKER AND CO. 1884.
  24. ^ Viegas, Jennnifer. Animal Planet: Jackal-Dog Created for Airport Security

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