Are Foxes And Dogs More Similar Than We Think?

Not exactly 🦊🐶

fox and shiba inu

You may have heard stories about people mistaking foxes for dogs. After all, they do look pretty similar. But are foxes canines?

We did some research and reached out to an expert to find out how closely related foxes and dogs actually are and why — unlike your adorable pup — they don’t make good pets.

Are foxes canines?

Foxes are part of the dog family, Canidae, which also includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes and other canines.

“The nomenclature ‘canines’ is a common reference to animals that are members of the family Canidae,” Bridgett M. vonHoldt, a faculty member at Princeton University’s Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, told The Dodo.

But while part of the same family, dogs (and wolves) are part of the genus Canis, while most types of foxes are from the genus Vulpes.

“There are roughly more than 10 million years of evolutionary time that separate domestic dogs and red foxes,” vonHoldt said.

There are some types of foxes who are part of other genuses, though, like the gray fox, the Arctic fox, the bat-eared fox and the crab-eating fox — but none in the Canis genus.

What’s the difference between a dog and a fox?

Other than the fact that one’s a wild animal and one is probably trying to climb onto the couch while you’re reading this, there are actually a lot of differences between dogs and foxes.

“Dogs and foxes have different numbers of chromosomes,” vonHoldt said. Basically, that means dogs and foxes are genetically unique.

Also, foxes are wild animals, while dogs can be domesticated. It can be super dangerous to try to adopt a fox into your family, so it’s definitely not recommended. Plus, domesticating a fox is illegal, according to vonHoldt.

“They are wild species and protected as wildlife species,” vonHoldt added.

Dogs who look like foxes

Some dogs can actually look like foxes, which is probably where some of the confusion between the species comes from. And while foxes are cute, pups who look like foxes definitely make better pets.

If your pup looks like a fox, one of these breeds could be part of his lineage.

Shiba Inu


Norwegian lundehund

Finnish spitz

You can support wild foxes in your area by donating to a local wildlife rescue or sanctuary, like this one.