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Dog vs. Coyote: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 25, 2023
Dog is a domesticated carnivorous mammal, often kept as a pet. Coyote is a wild canine native to North America, known for its adaptability.

Key Differences

Dogs are domesticated mammals, often kept as pets, and come in a wide range of breeds with varied appearances and temperaments. Coyotes, on the other hand, are wild animals that have not been domesticated and have a more uniform appearance, typically resembling a small to medium-sized dog but with distinct features.
Dogs have been bred over thousands of years to live alongside humans, serving various roles from companionship to working roles, while coyotes remain wild, often avoiding direct human interaction and living in natural habitats, although they are increasingly seen in urban areas.
Behaviorally, dogs exhibit a broad spectrum of temperaments and behaviors, heavily influenced by their breed and upbringing. In contrast, coyotes display more consistent wild behavior patterns, being highly adaptable, elusive, and generally nocturnal.
In terms of communication, dogs use a range of vocalizations and body language, some of which have evolved to better communicate with humans. Coyotes are known for their distinctive howls, yips, and vocalizations primarily used for communication within their species.
Regarding diet, dogs are generally omnivorous with diets controlled by their owners, ranging from commercial pet foods to specific diets tailored for health or breed. Coyotes, being wild animals, have a diet that primarily consists of meat, but they are opportunistic feeders and can eat a variety of foods found in their environment.

Comparison Chart


Domesticated, living with humans
Wild, typically avoid humans


Wide range of breeds and sizes
More uniform, wild appearance


Diverse, often human-oriented
Consistent, wild behaviors


Varied vocalizations, some human-oriented
Distinctive howls and yips for species communication


Controlled, often omnivorous
Wild, primarily carnivorous, opportunistic

Dog and Coyote Definitions


Loyal friend.
His dog waits for him at the door every evening.


Wild North American canine.
A coyote was spotted near the hiking trail.


Canine companion.
She trains her dog for agility competitions.


Nocturnal animal.
At night, you can hear the coyote howling.


Working animal.
The shepherd's dog helps herd the sheep.


Adaptable predator.
The coyote adapts easily to various environments.


Domesticated pet.
The family's dog loves to play fetch.


Solitary or pack animal.
A pack of coyotes roamed the outskirts of the town.


Guard animal.
Their dog barks to alert them of strangers.


Opportunistic feeder.
The coyote was seen scavenging for food.


A domesticated carnivorous mammal (Canis familiaris syn. Canis lupus subsp. familiaris) occurring as a wide variety of breeds, many of which are traditionally used for hunting, herding, drawing sleds, and other tasks, and are kept as pets.


A wolflike carnivorous mammal (Canis latrans) of North and Central America, having grayish-brown or yellowish fur, large erect ears, and a drooping bushy tail. Also called prairie wolf.


Any of various carnivorous mammals of the family Canidae, such as the dingo.


A firefighter who is sent to battle remote, usually very severe forest fires, often for days at a time.


What are common uses for working dogs?

Working dogs are used for herding, hunting, search and rescue, and as service animals.

How do dogs communicate with humans?

Dogs communicate with humans through vocalizations, body language, and facial expressions.

Are dogs social animals?

Yes, most dogs are social animals and thrive on interaction with humans and other dogs.

Can coyotes be domesticated like dogs?

Coyotes are wild animals and generally do not domesticate like dogs.

Can dogs and coyotes interbreed?

Yes, dogs and coyotes can interbreed, producing hybrids known as coydogs.

Do all dogs need regular exercise?

Yes, regular exercise is important for most dogs for their physical and mental health.

Are coyotes nocturnal?

Coyotes are primarily nocturnal but can also be active during the day, especially in urban areas.

How do coyotes affect ecosystems?

Coyotes play a key role in ecosystems as predators, controlling the populations of smaller animals.

Do coyotes live in packs?

Coyotes can live either solitarily or in small family groups, not typically in large packs.

What is the typical diet of a coyote?

Coyotes are primarily carnivorous but will eat a variety of foods, including fruits and vegetables.

Can dogs be trained for specific tasks?

Yes, dogs can be trained for a variety of tasks, including service and therapy work.

Are coyotes dangerous to pets?

Coyotes can be a threat to pets, especially small dogs and cats, due to their predatory nature.

How do coyotes hunt?

Coyotes hunt both individually and in groups, using stealth and speed.

Can coyotes be aggressive towards humans?

Coyotes are generally wary of humans but can be aggressive if threatened or if habituated to human food.

How adaptable are coyotes in urban environments?

Coyotes are highly adaptable and can thrive in urban environments, often scavenging for food.

Do dogs need a controlled diet?

Yes, dogs typically need a controlled diet to maintain health, often provided by their owners.

What's the lifespan of a domestic dog?

The lifespan of domestic dogs varies by breed but typically ranges from 10 to 13 years.

Are there laws protecting dogs?

Yes, many places have laws for the protection and welfare of dogs.

Do coyotes have natural predators?

In some areas, coyotes have natural predators such as wolves or large cats, but in many places, they are top predators.

How diverse are dog breeds?

Dog breeds are extremely diverse, ranging in size, appearance, and temperament.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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