A dog-fox hybrid has been found. Yes, this time it’s for real. We are not referring to the two animals who become great friends in the film ‘Fox and the Hound’. In Brazil, a recent discovery has unveiled what is being described as the world’s first dog-fox hybrid, the first known crossbreed between these two species.
This unusual canine came to light in 2021 after a car accident, prompting its urgent transfer to a hospital in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil. The veterinarians were perplexed due to its distinctive traits, resembling neither a fully wild nor a domestic animal.
How the animal was different?
Flávia Ferrari, a conservationist, remarked that the black, pointy-eared creature exhibited “unusual” behaviors. “It was not as docile as a dog, but it also lacked the aggressiveness expected of a wild canid when handled,” Ferrari told The Telegraph.
The strange-looking canine was found after it was run over by a car in 2021. It was rushed to a hospital in Rio Grande do Sul, the country’s southernmost state, where it stumped veterinarians who did not know what to make of it. The black, pointy-eared animal displayed “unusual” characteristics, appearing neither fully wild nor fully domestic.
“It was not as docile as a dog, but it also lacked the aggressiveness expected of a wild canid when handled,” Flávia Ferrari, a conservationist, told The Telegraph. Intrigued, researchers ran a series of tests in order to identify the animal’s genetic makeup.
They determined it was a hybrid between a pampas fox — a fox native to South America — and a domestic dog, according to a study published on Aug. 3 in the journal Animals. “To our knowledge, this represents the first documented case of hybridization between these two species,” researchers said.
“This discovery implies that, although these species diverged about 6.7 million years ago and belong to different genera, they might still produce viable hybrids,” researchers said. The hybrid has been called a “dogxim,” a combination of “dog” and “graxaim-do-campo,” the Portuguese name for the pampas fox, according to the Telegraph. The animal died earlier this year of an unspecified cause.
Hybrid animals are created both through human coercion and natural pairings in the wild, according to a 2021 study published in the journal Annals of Animal Science. About 10% of animal species interbreed with other species — typically ones that are closely related. Mules, a cross between donkeys and horses, and ligers, a mix between lions and tigers, are two examples of hybrids created by humans, according to the study. In the wild, deer and elk species are known to interbreed.
The creation of hybrids can have a negative impact on wild populations, including by transmitting various diseases across species, researchers said. However, most man-made hybrids are infertile.