Coyote Tracks Or Paw Prints: What Do They Look Like?

The coyote is the most known specie of the dog family you can find in the North American continent. You can find these dogs in almost all the countries of the continent like the USA, Mexico, and Canada. If we talk about the USA, you can find these dogs in all the corners of the country from marshes, deserts, mountain areas, and urban areas. They can go anywhere just for the scraps of food.

If you want to distinguish coyotes from other domestic dogs then the coyote tracks are the best things to start with. You can find the signs of these tracks throughout the continent in almost all kinds of coyote habitats. In this article, we are going to explain in detail what do coyote tracks look like in detail.

What Do Coyote Tracks Look Like
Coyote tracks in the sand.

Coyote tracks

Coyote comes with oval-shaped footprints which are almost 2.5 inches long and 2 inches wide. You can witness four toes on their tracks along with claws at both front and hind feet. The tracks are almost symmetrical but you might see some slight tilt in their toes. The foot pad is also triangular in shape and the front foot pad is slightly larger than the Back end foot pad.

Coyote gaits

There are various types of gaits that coyotes can adopt like trotting, walking, galloping, loping, etc. The most prominent and which the coyote usually do is the overstep trot. In this practice, the front and hind legs are raised and land at the same time and also very close together. Sometimes, the hind legs land ahead of the back legs. The line of track left by the trotting is quite straight and narrow. The step length between groups of tracks while doing a trot is almost 15-22 inches.

Features of coyote tracks

You might mix the footprints of many other canine animals with the tracks of the coyote. However, certain characteristics differentiate the coyote print from the footprints of other animals. Let’s have a look at some of the prominent features of the coyote prints.

Coyote track size

Let’s discuss how big are coyote tracks. When it comes to size, the coyote track is not very much different from the track of other animals. The front coyote paw print size is almost 2 and a half inches in length and 2 inches in width. On the other hand, the back paw print is almost 2.25 inches in length and 1.75 inches in width.


Coyote has oval-like paw prints. The paws of the coyote are almost the same as the paws of dogs, and cats. On each pad, there are four toes. However, the heel impressions of the coyote are much more dominant than the other coyote-like animals. There is more space between the toes and heel pads of coyotes as compared to other animals like dogs.


Coyote tracks with claw marks.
Coyote tracks with claw marks.

Coyotes don’t have retractable claws. It means that they definitely leave some impressions on the ground or surface. The claw pattern of the coyote is slightly different from the claw pattern of dogs. The nail tip of the coyote goes deeper than the nail tip of the dog. However, the paw prints of the coyote claw don’t leave any impressions on hard surfaces like rocks. The claw mark of the coyote will be very nice and sharp. The claw marks are also mainly forwarded in direction. If you have dusty soil, then you cannot see any claw marks on this kind of soil. In the dusty soil, the hind track has a small heel pad size as compared to the front track. The coyote’s toes will also be less played and close together.

Comparison of coyote tracks with other animals

Now we will compare the coyote track with the tracks of some other prominent animals like foxes, dogs, wolves, etc.

Coyote track vs fox track

Coyote track vs fox track
Coyote track vs fox track.

Overall, the track of the coyote is almost 3 inches long while the track of the fox is 2.5 inches long. The coyote toes and footprints are also quite larger and wider as compared to the toes and footprints of the foxes. It mainly happens due to the larger size of the coyote as compared to the size of foxes.

Dog vs coyote tracks

Dogs vs coyotes paw/claw prints
Dog vs coyote tracks.

Here we are going to discuss the difference between dog and coyote tracks. Coyote track is more oval as well as narrower than the track of dogs. On the middle toe of the coyote, there are only two claws while the middle toe of the dog comes with four separate claws. The positioning of the prints of these animals is the main thing that helps in the differentiation of their tracks.

Generally, you will see a lack of coordination in the track of the dog as they always walk randomly while the coyote leaves a smooth track. They don’t go in circles and always prefer to go on a smooth walk. There might be some difference in terms of their overall size.

Many people often intermix dog tracks with coyote footprints but there are some distinguishing differences between their tracks. For instance, the track of the dog is round-shaped with blunt nails and comes with very less symmetry. The negative space between the toes and pad also helps a lot in differentiation. Coyote usually has X-shape tracks that domestic dogs don’t depict.

Wolf tracks vs coyote tracks

Wolf vs coyote paw prints
Wolf tracks vs coyote tracks.

Wolves are big size wild animals and the track size of the wolf is almost 5 inches long and 4 inches wide. On the front footpad, you will see a lobe, a larger claw, and four symmetrical toes. It seems like the overall track size of the wolf is almost double the track size of the coyote.

Coyote vs Bobcat track

Bobcat foot prints in snow
Bobcat tracks in the snow.

Coyote also has some similarities in terms of their track with the track of Bobcat. The front print of the bobcat track is usually directed toward the top frame. Bobcats also have four toes and a middle pad same as coyotes but the bobcat track is much more asymmetrical as compared to the track of a coyote. Another difference is in the form of ridges. Ridges lie between the middle pad and toe. When it comes to the coyote track, the ridges between the toes and middle pad form X.

There is also doom in the middle. However, this doesn’t lie in the case of bobcat ridges. The ridges of the bobcat form H or C-shaped ridges along with some kinks. There is also a difference in size. The bobcat track has small toes but a large middle pad. It is the opposite in the case of coyotes. Coyote tracks also leave very delicate claw marks but bobcat doesn’t leave any claw marks. The print of the bobcat is round in shape but the print of the coyote is oval or egg-shaped.

What should you do if you see a coyote track?

It is an extremely dangerous sign if you see a coyote track on your way home. You might be worried about the safety of your pets, defenseless children, landscape beauty, and expensive property. In this case, first of all, you must contact the animal control body in your area as they could only handle it properly. You must never leave a pet food supply outside your house as it could attract the coyote to your property.

The trash can outside your home also be properly covered with something as these things are out of reach of coyotes. Overall, fencing around the house is the most suitable and long-term solution you could adopt for dealing with the coyotes, etc. However, you must also keep in your mind that the coyote can easily jump the 5 feet tall fence easily. Thus, the fence must be at least 6 feet tall and it is much better to install at least 7 feet tall.

Frequently asked questions

Coyote tracks in mud are clearly visible. Coyote prints in mud are oval or egg-shaped having a length of almost 2.5 inches and 2 inches in width. There are four toes at both the front and hind legs. The track is completely symmetrical with a slight tilt of toes or claws towards the left or right.

Coyote tracks in the sand are very small in size and shape. Coyote prints in sand are actually surprisingly small in size. The outside toes of the coyote are tucked very neatly behind the leading toes. The hind tracks usually go very deep in the sand.

Coyote snow tracks are very much known in the wildlife community. Coyote prints are ovular in shape. It is usually 2.5 inches long and 2 inches in width. Coyote leaves very deep claw marks on the snow. The four toes of the coyote are usually close together in the snow but prints and splayed don’t move in different directions.


In this article, we have explained in detail what do coyote tracks look like in detail. It is a very comprehensive overview in which we have also compared the track of the coyote with the track of other prominent wild animals like foxes, bobcats, dogs, etc. We have also explained in detail what do coyote tracks look like on different surfaces like mud, snow, sand, etc. I hope that you will not be disappointed by reading this article and clear all your confusion about the coyote tracks

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