The New Species of Canine that’s Part German Shepherd
Imagine an animal that combines the ferocity of a wolf, the survivability of a coyote, and the intelligence of a German Shepherd, and you have what some scientists are calling the Coywolf (or weyote.)
Meet the Coywolf
Officially considered a hybrid (though actively pursuing recognition as a separate species) the Coywolf is believed to have come into existence due in large part to habitat loss, which drove wild wolves and coyotes into direct competition with one another for resources as well as the introduction of domestic dogs – brought along by humans, which occasionally mated with wild wolves and coyotes to form this resilient hybrid.
Wolves are not naturally known to mate with domestic dogs, and except in dire straits, also avoid coyotes. Interbreeding of wolves and coyotes has only been observed in the wild a handful of times, and only in the Southern USA, where wolf populations are slim and opportunities to mate even slimmer. Despite overwhelming obstacles, these animals have managed to interbreed into a vibrant new species with a population already believed to number in the millions.
History of the Coywolf
The hybridization of Wolves and Coyotes is not new, but the rapid growth, high survival rate, and the marked introduction of dog blood has made it an interesting phenomena nonetheless. In a study of the genetic makeup of these animals, scientists from Stony Brook University have discovered that the animals are primarily made of Coyote DNA, with about a quarter being wolf and another tenth being dog. And, of the dog DNA discovered in this new species, a majority of it came from large, robust working breeds, such as German Shepherd’s. It is easy to imagine how intermingling with German Shepherd’s provided a considerable advantage for much smaller, more skittish coyotes, who benefit tremendously from the German Shepherd’s size, strength, and innate comfort around humans and urban areas.
While many hybrids fail to reproduce and thrive in the wild, the coywolf has done quite well. The wolf, dog, and coyote DNA resulted in a winning combination that benefits from all of its ancestors. The Coyote and Wolf DNA has created a flexible hunter which can take down prey in dense woods or across open plains, whereas the dog DNA has resulted in an animal that is unafraid of humans, adept at scavenging in urban areas, and an opportunistic eater, able to survive on scraps and even some fruits and vegetables.
The Coywolf is larger than the coyote, even in instances where the female coyote bears a litter of wolfdog pups – the pups are born longer and larger than coyote pups, and mature to be much bigger than their mother. Due to their high concentration of Coyote DNA, they mostly resemble Coyotes or wolves, with very little dog visibly discernible up close or at a distance. They have comparatively larger heads that Coyotes, larger bodies, and thicker bones, making them able to take down much larger prey than Coyotes have been able to do before – including deer, elk, and moose.
Their physically larger bodies, and their ability to survive almost anywhere has spread their population further than wolves or coyotes have ever been able to get alone. This hybrid can be found from Michigan to New York, and their populations are only growing. At this rate, it’s not unlikely that we will see Coywolves springing up all across the globe.