It’s a rumor that you may have heard about and so here you are, doing your due diligence to see if what you have heard is true. So, can dogs and foxes breed?
The quick answer is ‘No’, they cannot. Dogs and foxes do not have enough compatible pairs of chronozones. Dogs have 39 pairs whilst foxes have between 19 and 32 pairs.
That doesn’t stop the power of the internet, however, and rumors abound, so today we are going to take a moment and tell you why dogs and foxes cannot be bred so that you can replace those rumors with cold, hard facts. Let’s discuss the truth about ‘Doxes’.
Table of Contents
Wait, what about Chihuahuas? Aren’t they related to Fennec Foxes?
The first rumor that we need to address has to do with Chihuahuas. These adorable little guys and gals sure do look a little Foxy and sometimes their antics make you wonder just how clever they might be. Is this because of some Fox DNA?
As it turns out, those Foxy ears and noses are ALL Chihuahua and 100% Fox-free. Nature turns out a lot of creatures that look alike but are quite different. Common examples include:
- Crocodiles and Alligators
- Porcupines and Hedgehogs
- Jaguars and Leopards
- Butterflies and Moths
You get the idea, but let’s expand on it a little and shoot down a big part of this rumor in the process
What about accounts I’ve read about ‘Doxes’?
This is one of the biggest reasons that you hear about Dogs and Foxes breeding. There are some very old accounts which say that it has happened. These come from figures that sound important, such as Wilhelm Niemeyer of the Hanover Zoological Gardens and a Zoologist named Reginald Innes Pocock.
Pocock died in 1947 and Niemeyer way back in 1874 and what you are dealing with in accounts like this is simply the fact that they were statements that were not backed up with any science. People quote accounts like this to you and point out Mules are produced when Donkeys and Horses mate and that they exist, even if the resulting Mule cannot reproduce.
The thing about that argument is that Horses and Donkeys can mate because they share a genus and have enough chromosome pairs which are ‘diploid’, meaning that both parents have at least half of the number of compatible chromosomes needed at minimum to produce an offspring.
This is where the ‘Dox’ rumor gets derailed
While the Dox theory is certainly fun to discuss, we’re going to have to knock that rumor down and put it in its place with the mighty fist of Science!
When it comes to compatible pairs of chromosomes, Dogs and Foxes simply do not have enough compatible pairs to produce an issue. They also don’t share the same Genus. Dogs, Wolves, Coyotes, Dingos, and even Jackals do share the same genus which is called ‘Canis’. The Canis Genus has 78 chromosomes in 39 pairs.
Foxes, on the other hand, are from the Genus called ‘Vulpes’ and this genus comes with 38 chromosomes except for the aforementioned Fennec Fox, who has a grand total of 64. This breaks down, respectively, to 19 pairs for standard foxes and 32 for Fennecs. Without being the same Genus they don’t stand a chance but the chromosome pairings put the final nails in the coffin.
Consider this rumor settled. Go Science! You might be interested to know that experiments were done which continue to this day in regards to domesticating the Fox. It begins with a Soviet-era experiment which started in 1959.
Every rumor conceals a little grain of truth
Now that we have told you why Dogs and Foxes cannot breed we’ll tell you one of the potential rumor-sources that may have led to the ‘Dox’ stories which you have heard – and it’s very true.
In 1959 an experiment was begun by Dmiti Belyaev, a man who had a theory that some genetic traits seen in dogs were directly related to domestication. This noted Zoologist and Geneticist believed that some of the physical traits seen in domesticated dogs such as floppy ears, white spots, and a shorter skull came about because the evolutionary selection process decided that focusing on behavioral traits was good for species survival.
To test this, he decided that he would speed-up the process with which we developed domesticated dogs by breeding only the friendliest, bravest Foxes together to see if it produced a Fox which was less-fearful of humans and would seek out socialization.
Dmitri obtained some Silver Foxes from a Canadian Fur supplier and over time he would be proved right. The Foxes that this breeding produced were not only more social, but they started developing curly tails, white spots, and floppy ears!
Belyaev died in 1985 but the breeding experiments continue to this day and now you know the whole truth about Doxes!