Wolf – Coyote – Coywolf – Coydog?
By Shelia Smith
Trail Cam photos by Alan McKeown
Al McKeown has been capturing some interesting
images with a trail cam somewhere in Norfolk
County. This is the second fall/winter that the
sandy-coloured coyote has starred in some of his
shots. I thought you would like to see them.
There is now quite a bit of variation in both colour
and size of these animals in this area. I had one
here that looked much like a red wolf. Farmers and
hunters in this area have long referred to these
atypical coyotes as “brush wolves” or, sometimes,
The National Geographic Society came out with a
piece indicating that researchers have found wolf
DNA in some coyotes. It is thought that as coyotes
moved east, some mated with eastern
wolves…best known from around Algonquin Park.*
These wolves are much smaller than the huge
Timber, or Grey Wolves of the far north and west
which may be almost 1m tall at the shoulder and
weigh 140 pounds. These big canines don’t tolerate
coyotes, which average 40 lbs or less, as I
witnessed on a winter trip to Yellowstone.
And, the coydog theory goes out the window when
you realize that coyotes mate once a year, in late
winter. Domestic dogs may breed twice a year but
not necessarily in late winter.** And most domestic
dogs are not equipped to survive one of our
While some less intelligent individuals have
perhaps crossed dogs and coyotes and dogs and
wolves in captivity, it doesn’t strike me as being a
common practice…at least to go to all that trouble
and then turn the animals loose. So, whatever the
reason, we are getting some interesting, and often
*Editor’s note: This cross breed is referred to as
Coywolf in the National Geographic program.
These animals are just as highly intelligent and
adaptable as their Coyote ancestors and have
spread out in both rural and urban environments in
Eastern Canada and Northeastern USA.
**Editor’s note: Coydogs may still be possible,
although unlikely, in nature: The female Coyote
comes into heat once a year, female dogs twice,
but staggered any time over the year. Whereas the
males of both species may jump to the opportunity
to breed any time!
This handsome Coyote was caught on Dr. Alan McKeown’s trail cam.