All About Raccoon Dogs

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Raccoon dogs, often mistakenly thought to be a cross between domestic dogs and actual raccoons, are a fascinating species of canine that have piqued the interest of many. In this article, I’ll dispel some common misconceptions about these canines, clarify their origins, and address questions regarding their potential as pets and their relationship with raccoons.

Are Raccoon Dogs Real?

Yes, raccoon dogs are indeed real. Raccoon dogs, also known as Tanukis, are medium-sized canids, characterized by their bushy tails and facial markings that resemble those of raccoons. They are native to East Asia and are commonly found in countries like Japan, China, and Korea.

Are Raccoon Dogs Dangerous?

Raccoon dogs are not typically considered dangerous to humans. They are generally shy and non-aggressive animals. However, like any wild animal, they may defend themselves if they feel threatened. It’s important to keep a safe distance and not attempt to interact with them in the wild. If you get bit by a raccoon dog/tanuki, please ensure you get a rabies shot. 

Can Raccoon Dogs Get Rabies?

Any mammal can get rabies, and raccoon dogs are no exception. Raccoon dogs–in Europe and Asia, at least–are considered a rabies vector species.

Are Raccoon Dogs Domesticated?

Raccoon dogs are not domesticated. Unlike dogs, which have been bred and adapted over thousands of years to live with humans, raccoon dogs remain wild animals. Some individuals may be kept in captivity at zoos, or have been bred over many generations at fur farms, but they are not considered fully domesticated.

Can Raccoon Dogs Be Pets?

I’m sure some regions, it is legal to own a raccoon dog as a pet. However, I do not actually know of any place where this is possible. In the United States, possessing raccoon dogs is incredibly illegal. Even zoos have a hard time getting raccoon dogs!  Additionally it’s important to note that they have specific requirements and may not make suitable pets for most people. Raccoon dogs have special dietary needs, and their wild instincts can be challenging to manage in a domestic setting. 

Is the Raccoon Dog Related to the Raccoon?

Despite the name and their facial markings that resemble raccoons, raccoon dogs are not related to actual raccoons. They are more closely related to foxes and wolves and belong to the Canidae family, while raccoons are Procyonids. The similarity in appearance is likely a result of convergent evolution, where two unrelated species develop similar traits due to similar ecological niches.


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