Acquired: Rescue / shelter organization
Training: Attended conferences / shows
Hamilton, Montana, United States
Posted August 21, 2014
I've owned a good number of dogs throughout the course of my life - small dogs, large dogs, mutts and purebreds - but ever since I adopted Jock a year ago from a shelter, there has been something extra-special about him. I had never actually heard of coyote-dog hybrids before I met him - he is half coyote, half Australian Shepherd. Though I've worked with some awesome dogs that were wolf hybrids, at first I was a little wary of owning a "coy-dog" (especially since I have two very little kids at home.)
I went home and did some research on the breed, and went back to the shelter a couple of times to get to know him a little better. He was a rescue dog who had been badly mistreated as a puppy, and he was a little skittish the first time that I saw him. (He is still skittish with strangers, but has never been even remotely aggressive as a result.) By my third trip to the shelter, Jock acted like he had known me his entire life. He would wag his tail and whine, and do a little dance until his kennel door was opened. It didn't take much after that for me to decide to take the leap and adopt him.
I don't think I have ever been quite as attached to a pet as I am to Jock. From the moment I brought him home, he has been my best buddy. He follows me around the house and outside, and hates to be left home when I go somewhere. Admittedly - that can be as much a negative trait as a positive one. However, while I have read that skittishness can be common with "coy-dogs," I wouldn't necessarily attribute his skittishness and separation anxiety to his breed, as it could just as likely be a result of the abuse he suffered as a pup.
He has been very easy to train, and is awesome with my kids. The three-year-old loves to chase him around the yard and pull his tail, and he has never shown any signs of aggression towards him, or any other person he has been around. He howls when he hears an ambulance or fire truck go by with the sirens on, but never barks. From what I understand, coyote hybrids don't have the vocal chords for barking. He does like to "talk," much like malamutes often do.
He is medium in size, and as one would expect with a dog that is part coyote, is EXTREMELY active. We have a very large fenced yard for him to run in, and we take him for a walk at least once a day. As often as possible, we take him into the mountains so he can run. Being in Montana, that's a pretty easy thing. If you're considering getting a coyote hybrid, activity level should be one of your main considerations. They need the exercise, and they need to burn off energy in order to be happy dogs. You don't have to have miles of space for them to run, but a yard with a high fence is a must. Jock can jump up to six feet - though he has never jumped our 5-foot fence.
He likes to snuggle, and he's fiercely loyal. He has taken to learning and obeying commands very well, but doesn't always listen to people other than myself and my husband. In his capacity as a "guard dog," this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
There is one big potential con to owning a hybrid animal like a coyote-dog. Less than a month after I adopted him, He chased down and killed a stray cat in the field behind our home. We own a cat ourselves, but she is an indoor cat, and he never seemed very interested in her. I contacted a dog trainer that I had worked with before after the cat incident, and his opinion was that Jock, upon seeing the stray cat outside in the field, assumed that it was prey - just like a squirrel or a bird - and chased it down. Being part coyote, he has excellent hunting instincts, and has occasionally caught a bird or squirrel in the yard. I never expected him to go after a cat though, so that was a shock. We worked with him a great deal, even letting our cat outside to try to teach him that cats, whether inside or out, are not prey. In all the months since, he has never chased or killed any other cats, so I do not think that this is an insurmountable problem. However, it is one of the many things to carefully consider when deciding whether or not to get a coyote hybrid. They are, by nature, part wild. As a result, owning Jock has been a much different experience than the ones I've had with my other dogs.
That said, I wouldn't trade him for anything. He is the best, and smartest dog I have ever owned. If you have the patience and the energy for it, I think coyote-dogs make wonderful pets.