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Canid hybrid

Canid hybrids are the result of interbreeding between different species of the canine (dog) family (genus Canis). They often occur in the wild, in particular between domestic or feral dogs and wild native canis.

The wolf-like canids are a group of large carnivores that are genetically closely related because their chromosomes number 78. The group includes genus Canis, Cuon and Lycaon. The members are the dog (C. lupus familiaris), gray wolf (C. lupus), coyote (C. latrans), golden jackal (C. aureus), Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis), black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas), side-striped jackal (C. adustus), dhole (Cuon alpinus), and African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Newly proposed members include the red wolf (Canis rufus), eastern wolf (Canis lycaon), and African golden wolf (C. anthus). As they possess 78 chromosomes, all members of the genus Canis (coyotes, wolves, jackals) are karyologically indistinguishable from each other, and from the dhole and the African hunting dog. The members of Canis can potentially interbreed.

When the differences in number and arrangement of chromosomes is too great, hybridization becomes less and less likely. The wolf, dingo, dog, coyote, and golden jackal all have 78 chromosomes arranged in 39 pairs. This allows them to hybridize freely (barring size or behavioral constraints) and produce fertile offspring. There are two exceptions: the side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal. Although these two theoretically could interbreed with each other to produce fertile offspring, it appears they cannot hybridize successfully with the rest of the genus Canis. A study of the maternal of the black-backed jackal could find no evidence of genotypes from the most likely mates - the side-striped jackal nor the golden jackal - indicating that male black-backed jackals had not bred with these. There is no evidence that the African wild dog hybridizes with any of them.

  • Robert Armitage Sterndale mentioned experimental golden jackal/dog hybrids from British India in his Natural History of Mammals in India and Ceylon, noting that glaring jackal traits could be exhibited in hybrids even after three generations of crossing them with dogs
  • In Russia, golden jackal/Lapponian herder hybrids were bred as sniffer dogs because jackals have a superior sense of smell and Lapponian herders are good cold climate dogs. Also, fox terrier, Norwegian lundehund, and Spitz blood were combined to create the Sulimov dog. As well as a superior sense of smell, important at low temperatures where substances are less volatile and therefore less pungent, Sulimov dogs are small-sized and can work in confined spaces. When tired, their normally curled tails droop, making it clear to the handler that the dog needs to be rested. The jackal hybrids were bred by Klim Sulimov, senior research assistant at the D.S. Likhachev Scientific Research Institute for Cultural Heritage and Environmental Protection in Russia. Male jackal pups had to be fostered on a husky bitch in order to imprint the jackals on dogs. Female jackals accepted male huskies more readily. The half-bred jackal-dogs were difficult to train and were bred back to huskies to produce quarter-bred hybrids (quadroons). These hybrids were small, agile, trainable and had an excellent sense of smell. Twenty-five jackal-dog hybrids are used by Aeroflot at Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow for functions including bomb-sniffing. Their breeding program dates back to 1975, but it was not applied to bomb detection until 2002.


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