Coyotes are more and more present in human-populated areas. You can now hear and see them outside their natural habitats, such as in rural farms, suburbs, and cities. So as pet owners, it’s normal to wonder if coyotes attack dogs.
Coyotes do occasionally attack dogs, but it’s relatively rare. As omnivores, they generally eat small wild animals and local vegetation. While coyotes may confuse domestic pets with their usual prey, dogs are usually not a common food source for these predators.
According to Urban Coyote Research, there were 70 coyote attacks on dogs in the Chicago metropolitan area between 1990 and 2006. In this research, Orthmeyer et al. (2007) also found that the USDA Wildlife Services reported 1 079 conflicts between coyotes and pets from 1999 to 2006 in California.
Therefore, coyote attacks on dogs do occur from time to time. But it doesn’t mean it will happen. Depending on the dog and circumstances, a coyote might not attack. Let’s understand why and how you can avoid it.
Will A Coyote Attack A Dog?
A coyote will only attack a dog if it’s seen as prey or a threat. Coyotes are predators that generally hunt and eat small rodents, rabbits, birds, and sometimes larger mammals. But if they are hungry and desperate, they might attack dogs. A coyote can also be aggressive towards pets to protect its territory or family.
How Likely A Coyote Is To Attack A Dog?
The probability that a coyote attacks a dog is relatively low. First of all, coyotes are nocturnal predators while dogs generally stay indoors during the night. Then, a dog is often accompanied by a person, which coyotes are afraid of. So it’s quite rare that a coyote has the chance to attack a dog.
But if you give them the opportunity to do so, they will probably take it. Now, let’s add some numbers to evaluate the risk. For our first analysis, we will use data found in Urban Coyote Research.
With 70 coyote attacks on dogs in Chicago from 1990 to 2006 and around 610 600 dogs estimated to live in the city according to this article (2014), it gives us approximately 1 dog out of 8 723 that got attacked by a coyote during those 16 years. That’s only 0,011 %.
Even if there were probably more attacks than what was found during the research and the data is relatively old, those results are still accurate and representative. Therefore, your dog will likely not be attacked by a coyote.
If we take more recent data from this study, the police department of Huntington Beach reported 37 suspected coyote attacks on pets in 2014, 80 in 2015, and 107 in 2016, for a total of 224 in 3 years.
Let’s assume half of them (112) were on dogs. With 45 554 dogs in the community according to this file, it means that 1 out of 407 or 0,25 % was attacked by a coyote. The probability is much higher compared to the previous example, but it’s still nothing.
What Can Influence If A Coyote Will Attack A Dog?
To be fair, not every dog has the same chance of getting attacked by a coyote. Some dogs are more likely to be seen as potential food or danger. Besides that, there are many other details of the coyote encounter that can also influence whether or not he will attack. Thus, let’s take a look at them.
Size Of Dog
Since coyotes usually attack small animals, the size of the dog is an important factor to consider. On the other hand, bigger breeds might be seen as opponent predators. Therefore, a coyote can attack dogs of any size.
How Big Of A Dog Will A Coyote Attack?
In general, a coyote will attack small dogs. Pets under 25 pounds are more likely to be taken as prey for these predators. But coyotes will also occasionally attack mid-size and large dogs. If they are hungry or want to protect their territory/family, how big the dog is doesn’t really matter.
Coyotes are naturally afraid of humans. So the presence of the owner will often be enough to dissuade the coyote from attacking the dog. However, it’s less and less accurate because they are more and more used to us.
Just to give you an idea, in this research, they compiled 165 coyote attacks on humans in California between 1977 and 2015. Among that, around 28 cases (17%) were associated with the presence of dogs.
Therefore, being with your dog during an encounter with a coyote might decrease the chance of attack but it also puts you in danger. With the right reaction, you should be able to scare the predator and save you both.
The coyote itself also has a big part in whether or not he will attack a dog. Some are more aggressive toward pets and fearless toward humans than others. It might also depend on the state of the predator. If a coyote is in self-defense, protection, or hunting mode, he’s more likely to attack.
Time Of Day & Season
Coyotes are nocturnal, so they are mostly active at night, early in the morning, and at sunset. They can also occasionally go out and hunt during the day, but it’s rare. Therefore, a coyote will generally attack a dog near or at nighttime.
In the same study mentioned above, they reported that the attacks were seasonal. Coyotes are more likely to attack during the breeding and pup-rearing season, which generally occurs from January to March and March to August. During those periods, they tend to be more aggressive toward dogs and humans.
Although there are coyotes over most of North America, you’re more likely to encounter them in certain places. They primarily live in open spaces like prairies and deserts but can get used to forests and mountains.
In urban areas, they will generally prefer a habitat with wood and shrubs to hide from humans. So you should avoid those types of environments when you go out or walk with your dog, especially at a time likely to encounter a coyote. But attacks can also happen in your backyard or anywhere else outside your house.
Now that you know more about coyote attacks on dogs, here are other related questions you might have!
Will A Dog Scare Off A Coyote?
A large and confident dog might be able to scare off a coyote. For example, livestock guard dogs were bred to keep predators away. But coyotes are fearless and will probably not be afraid of a pet. So most dogs won’t be able to scare off a coyote, especially if he decides to attack.
Are Coyotes Aggressive Toward Dogs?
Coyotes can be aggressive toward dogs if they see them as prey or threat. They will generally aim to kill when they attack, so it can be brutal. Coyotes are typically more aggressive during the breeding season from January to March. They are predators that will do anything to feed and protect their pups.
So, Will A Coyote Attack Your Dog?
A coyote will probably attack your dog if he’s given the chance and has a reason to do so. Unless your dog is large, confident, and knows how to scare off predators, coyotes are a danger to him. Your presence should generally be enough to prevent an attack. But keep in mind that coyotes are less and less afraid of humans.
Other circumstances such as the time of day, season, environment, and coyote itself might also come into play. Now you’re probably wondering what you should do if you encounter a coyote and he attacks your dog.
How To Protect Your Dog From Coyotes?
The best way to protect your dog from coyotes is to avoid encountering one. A high fence that goes under the ground with coyote rollers on the top should keep your backyard safe. If you encounter a coyote, you should leash your dog, make yourself look big, throw something in its direction, and make some noise.
Last Thoughts About Coyotes Attacks On Dogs!
Finally, coyotes do occasionally attack dogs when they have the opportunity to do it. Whether it will happen or not depends on many factors.
But most of the time, you can prevent a coyote from attacking your dog. So it’s your responsibility to keep your pet safe from wild predators.
Let’s Protect That Dog From Coyotes!