Why World’s First Dog-Fox Hybrid Has Scientists Worried
Over the years we’ve seen the debut of hybrid animals like the liger and the wholfin, with each new mixed creature raising questions about interspecies breeding and the future of unique animals like these. Back in 2021, locals in Brazil discovered what they believed to be the world’s first dog-fox hybrid, which was recently confirmed with genetic testing.
While it may be an exciting development for dog owners in search of a cute new pet, one scientist raises questions about what it means about interactions between species. The hybrid is known as a “dogxim,” a cross between a dog and a graxaim-do-campo, the Portuguese name for a Pampas fox. This specific female dogxim was hit by a car and taken to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. where the staff noticed she had a strange mix of different physical features and behaviors.
Dogxim, the world’s first known dog-fox hybrid.
In 2021, a dog-like animal brought to a Brazilian animal rehab center showed unusual behavior, resembling a dog but also displaying fox-like traits like climbing bushes and preferring rats to dog food.
— Visionaledge (@Visionaledge) September 30, 2023
According to Dr. Jacqueline Boyd, a senior lecturer in animal science at Nottingham Trent University, the presence of the dogxim likely points to an increase in contact between wild and domestic species. That shouldn’t come a surprise considering the expansion of human settlements in wild habitats. But besides displacing the animals and running the chance of making a non-endangered creature like the Pampas fox endangered, it also increases the risk of disease transmission between species.
In the case of the original dogxim, she reportedly died in the months after her rehabilitation, making it harder for scientists to research questions about things like fertility. We probably shouldn’t expect to see many dog-fox hybrids running around anytime soon, especially since the common red fox is genetically more distant from the common house dog (Canis lupus familiaris) than the Pampas fox. Still, it might not be a totally uncommon sight in the coming decades if human habitats continue to grow.
Maybe it’s time for a rewatch of The Fox and the Hound.