Red Wolf Vs Coyote Differences – Do They Produce Hybrids?

The red wolf and coyote belong to the canine family. They have also been named red wolf or canis rufus, and a coyote or Canis latrans. Both of them might be altogether different species but have the same family. They show a very close resemblance to each other. Coyote has a very stable population throughout the North American continent while red wolves are considered endangered species and mainly lies in the North Carolina region.

It is extremely important to distinguish between these animals and all the hunters and tourists must clearly know about them. Otherwise, the hunters might intermix red wolves with coyotes and hunt them down as there is no big deal in hunting down the coyotes. In this article, we will clearly define the differences between these animals and compare red wolf vs coyote in a very comprehensive manner.

Red Wolf vs Coyote Differences
Red Wolf vs Coyote Differences

How can you tell a red wolf from a coyote?

The easiest way to differentiate between these animals is with the help of their overall size. The red wolf are bigger, bulkier, broader, and have not very distinct facial markings while the coyotes are smaller in size, having a very sleek look and less weight. The legs of the wolves are very long along with bigger paws and ruff of furs around their neck and shoulder. The eye colors of the wolves range from amber to yellow color and come with a straight but bushy tail.

Comparing red wolf vs coyote

Let’s compare these animals by discussing the differences in their features one by one.

FeaturesRed wolfCoyote
SizeHeight: 20-26 inches Weight: 40-90 lbs Length: 37-47 inchesHeight: 18-26 inches Weight: 15-45 lbs Length: 30-35 inches
ColorsRed, brown, grey, black, whiteBrown, buff, grey, black
SoundsVery long and scary howls,Howling and yapping
MuzzleVery thick but short muzzleLong and narrow muzzle
Geographical rangeThe southeastern side of the USA.North American continent
Lifespan10-12 years10-15 years
Bite force957 PSI727 PSI

The key difference between these animals comes in terms of their size, colors, and muzzles. Both of them have almost the same height but the red wolf is double the coyote in terms of weight. There is one very prominent thing in the red wolf is that they have a very bright white color on their legs and a fully cream color in the underbelly. It is highly helpful in differentiating it from other animals.

Size: red wolf vs coyote

There is a very huge difference in terms of their overall size. The weight of the red wolf is 90 lbs which is almost double the weight of the coyote which is just 45 lbs. Both of them come with the same height of almost 26 inches. There is also some difference in terms of their length as the length of the coyote is around 35 inches while the length of the red wolf is around 47 inches.

Paw size

red wolf vs coyote paw size

If you have a big size body, then you must also have a bigger paw size. On average, the size of the red wolf paw is almost 3 inches wide and 5 inches in length while the coyote has 2 inches wide paw and 3 inches in length. The bigger paw size of the red wolf gives them an advantage in the fight. Red wolf leaves bigger tracks than coyote tracks, which can help in the identification of animal in your backyard.

Muzzle: coyote vs red wolf

Coyotes have long and pointed muzzle compared to red wolves.
Coyotes have long and pointed muzzles compared to red wolves.

Coyotes are very well-known for their long and prominent muzzle but red wolves have very short and thick muzzle. The muzzle is the only main thing that single out coyotes from other animals.

Sounds: Coyotes vs Red Wolves

They howl for communication purposes as they have to engage with their pack members in the wilderness. However, both of them howl in a different manner. Red wolves generally make very long and scary howls same like gray wolves. These howls are very loud. The frequency of their howls varies from one situation to another. On the other hand, coyotes don’t make very long howls. They also complement their howls with other kinds of sounds like yips, yaps, and barks.


Coyote can run faster than a red wolf.
Coyotes run faster than red wolves.

Coyotes are very well known for their fast speed. They can easily run up to the speed of almost 43 miles per hour. Being bulky, red wolves could not run very fast and they can run with a maximum speed of 30 miles per hour. By running very fast, coyotes can make a good impact on their target by generating some momentum but they still lack in this when we compare it with the red wolves.

Bite force

Coyotes may have good skulls and jaws but they could not bring much bite force if we compare them with the bite force of wolves. The bite force quotient of the red wolf is 99.17 BFQ which is almost equal to 957 PSI while the BFQ of the coyote is almost equal to 727 PSI. To make it simple, we can say that the coyotes may chew the bones of their prey and tear apart the flesh but the red wolves are capable of crushing the bones.

Coat color: Red wolves vs Coyotes

Red wolves are generally associated with the red color but it is not actually the case because red wolves have cinnamon or reddish brown color in their fur coat. The cream color underbelly and the white color legs of the wolves are also very prominent. On the other hand, coyotes come with grey, brown, and black buff colors mixture on their fur coat. Many people confuse the buff color of the coyote’s fur with the red color.

Geographical range

The red wolf has a very limited range as compared to the range of the coyote. Coyotes have a very active existence throughout the North American region while the red wolves are very limited to the Southeastern region of the USA. They are also very close to extinction as according to one estimation there are only 100 red wolf species left in the region. They are endangered species and may be extinct if the proper care is not provided to them.


The lifespan of these animals depends upon the place where they are living. If they are living in the wilderness, they live very short as compared to a very long existence in captivity. On average, the red wolf can easily live up to 12 years while the coyote can live up to 15 years. They enjoy a very long lifestyle if they live in packs.

Conservation status

Red wolves are critically endangered species
Red wolves are endangered while coyotes are not.

Red wolves are in real trouble regarding their conservation as they are left in a very limited quantity in the region. In a protected territory, there are 30 red wolfs which are living in the form of packs in the North Carolina region. They are critically endangered species and might face extinction in a few years. On the other hand, coyotes have a very stable population in the region and they are the least concern on the IUCN red list.

There is no potential threat to their existence. There is also one factor that plays the main role in their population status reproduction and adaptability. Coyotes reproduce their pups very rapidly and quickly and they are also highly adaptable to different kinds of environments. It means they can easily survive for longer periods.

Extinction of the red wolves

Red wolves had almost gone vanished from the earth’s surface until the captive breeding program was started in North Carolina where the environment is much more feasible for them. It was quite a good experiment the red wolf population was increasing very rapidly and they reached a peak of 120. After that the decline happens the existence of the red wolves is again in danger due to poaching, vehicle collision, and confusion about the facial appearance of the coyotes.

They are not actually much bigger and different than coyotes in terms of their facial appearance. It is extremely difficult to single them out in the daytime let alone in the nighttime. People are mainly blaming the US Fish and wildlife service for this kind of gross mismanagement.

Coyote red wolf hybrid

Coyote red wolf hybrid
Coyote red wolf hybrid DNA was found in Louisiana and Texas by researchers.

The red wolf and coyote hybrid is also the talk of the town after the reduction of the red wolf population. Generally, these animals don’t like to breed with each other. However, it is possible if the condition is not good enough in their surroundings. If the population of both of these animals is declining then there are very good chances that they would mate and produce good offspring.

This kind of red wolf-coyote hybrid mating was very deeply observed in the Galveston Island of Texas. The researchers are still digging more deeply into the presence of these hybrids in these areas. Moreover, this kind of coywolf DNA was also found in other places like Louisiana.


In this article, we have made a very comprehensive comparison between the red wolf vs coyote. They are intermixed due to their similar appearance and sometimes the hunters have also targeted red wolves under the garb of hunting coyotes. That’s why the population of red wolves has almost vanished from the wilderness. Now the presence of coyote-red wolf hybrid genes has again revived hope. The researchers believe that we can again recover the population of red wolves.

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