|Three hybrids between golden jackals and domestic dogs legally shot in Croatia|
A jackal–dog hybrid is a canid hybrid resulting from a mating between a dog and a golden jackal. Such crossbreeding has occurred numerous times in captivity, and was first confirmed to occasionally happen in the wild in Croatia in 2015.
Similar matings between golden jackals and grey wolves have never been observed, though evidence of such occurrences was discovered through mtDNA analysis on jackals in Bulgaria. Although no genetic evidence has been found of grey wolf-jackal hybridization in the Caucasus Mountains, some cases exist where otherwise genetically pure golden jackals have displayed remarkably grey wolf-like phenotypes, to the point of being mistaken for wolves by trained biologists.
Scottish surgeon and amateur naturalist John Hunter was the first to write an account of the two species' interfertility in 1787. He described how a ship captain of the East India Company adopted a female jackal and had it mated to his spaniel, after which it whelped six pups upon arriving in England. Hunter purchased one of the female hybrid pups and attempted to mate it with several dogs upon reaching maturity. Further crossbreeding experiments were initially hampered by the hybrid female's apparent disinterest in the dogs brought to it, though it subsequently mated with a terrier and produced five pups.
Marie Jean Pierre Flourens attempted his own crossbreeding experiments nearly a century later, noting that first-generation matings between the two species tended to produce animals in which jackal characteristics were dominant, having straight ears, hanging tails, lack of barking, and wild temperaments. A similar observation was made by Robert Armitage Sterndale, who recorded a jackal-dog crossbreeding experiment spanning several generations in British India, noting that glaring jackal traits could be exhibited in hybrids even after three generations of crossing them with dogs. Flourens, however, observed that his jackal hybrids became sterile after the fourth generation, but could be mated back to either parent species.
Charles Darwin wrote of a first-generation hybrid kept in the London Zoo which was completely sterile, though he noted that this was an exceptional case, as first-generation hybrids have been known to reproduce successfully. He criticised Flourens's earlier experiments, noting that the specimens he used were all closely related, thus their subsequent sterility would have been explainable as a result of inbreeding.
Breeding experiments in Germany with poodles and jackals and later on with the resulting dog–jackal hybrids showed a decrease in fertility and significant communication problems, as well as an increase of genetic diseases after three generations of interbreeding between the hybrids, unlike with wolfdogs, which remain healthy and never become sterile. These "puchas" (poodle-jackals), like the "pucos" (poodle coyotes), exhibited much less domestic dog-like behaviour than the wolf-hybrids.
During 1975, scientists at Russia's DS Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection began a breeding project in which they crossed golden jackals with huskies, to create an improved breed with the jackal's power of scent and the husky's resistance to cold. During recent years, Aeroflot has used one-quarter jackal hybrids, known as Sulimov dogs, to sniff out explosives otherwise undetectable by machinery.
In 2015, hybridization between golden jackals and domestic dogs in the wild was confirmed when three specimens with anomalous traits were harvested in Croatia and had their genetic markers analyzed. Two of the specimens, a light-coloured female and a melanistic male, were very jackal-like in appearance, save for their colouration and rounded ears, while one was much more doglike, lacking the jackal's conjoined middle paw pads and sporting dewclaws and a white coat with brown patches. This last specimen was thought to be the pup of the female, which had likely backcrossed with a stray Istrian Shorthaired Hound.
- Hunter, J. (1787). Observations tending to show that the Wolf, Jackal, and Dog are all the same species. Phil. Trans., and Animal Œconomy, 2nd Edit.
- Flourens, P. (1855), De la Longévité Humaine et de la Quantité de Vie sue le Globe, Paris: Garnier Frères, Libraires-Éditeurs, 2nd ed. pp. 152-154
- Sterndale, R. A. (1884), Natural History of the Mammalia of India and Ceylon, London: W. Thacker and Co. pp. 238-239.
- Helen Briggs, Jackal blood makes 'perfect' sniffer dogs, BBC News (9 May 2002)
- Galov, Anna, et al. First evidence of hybridization between golden jackal (Canis aureus) and domestic dog (Canis familiaris) as revealed by genetic markers. Royal Society Publishing. 2 December 2015. DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150450
- Moura, Andre E.; et al. (2013). "Unregulated hunting and genetic recovery from a severe population decline: the cautionary case of Bulgarian wolves". Conservation Genetics. 14 (2): 405–417. doi:10.1007/s10592-013-0547-y.
- Kopaliani, N. et al. (2014), "Gene Flow between Wolf and Shepherd Dog Populations in Georgia (Caucasus)", Journal of Heredity, 105 (3): 345 DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esu014
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- Steven Rosenberg, Russian airline's top dogs fight terror, BBC News (13 December 2002)