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Can a Dog Defend Itself Against a Coyote? (size & protection)

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Coyotes can be daring and aggressive and often snatch pets from owner’s farms. While many dog breeds will stand up to coyotes, can they actually defend themselves?

Since coyotes aren’t very big or strong, a single medium or large-bred dog can often defend itself against a coyote, even several. Coyotes will typically be fearful of approaching the dog. If a coyote tries to be brave, a larger dog will be more powerful to defend and may even kill the coyote.

Indeed, there have been instances where determined dogs, especially those breeds built for guarding or hunting, have fatally wounded coyotes during confrontations.

In this article, we explore dog vs coyote interaction, whether a dog can defend itself, how to protect a dog and property, and which dog is the best to keep coyotes away.

coyote standing in grass field during daytime

Can a Coyote Hurt a Dog?

A coyote can severely injure a smaller dog, however, they typically won’t attack a larger dog, especially if it’s on a fenced-in property. Even a slightly trained dog can protect itself, let alone a properly trained working dog.

Those tough working dogs trained to defend cattle can easily weigh more than 100 pounds and are trained to fight off predators. A large one could take out a pack of coyotes. Many guardian breeds are units, and coyotes are medium-sized.

There are several reasons why a coyote cannot harm a guard dog or most other protective large breeds, even if they team up.

To begin with, coyotes are small. An average adult weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. When it comes to predator animals, they are generally wary, and they rarely predate anything larger than a squirrel. They are not finely tuned killing machines because they scavenge most of their diet.

While coyotes are intelligent and social, they do not form packs. Similarly, they aren’t good at pack hunting because they lack the intelligence and coordination to attack the guard dog simultaneously.

Often, it’ll be just one or two coyotes trying to bite him at a time. Each time, the guard dog would bite back and scare one away, and the one who was scared would probably take another 30-60 seconds before gathering the courage to bite again.

In such skirmishes, a well-conditioned dog, utilizing its strength and agility, might overpower a coyote, causing serious injury or even death to the wild predator.

What Size Dog Will Coyotes Attack?

Coyotes typically attack medium to small dogs, as well as older dogs. While coyotes usually try to avoid the dog to get to the prey or food at the house, they may rarely attack if starving.

If the coyotes were desperate enough to attack a protected ranch, they were probably starving and in no condition to defend themselves. A larger dog could easily defend itself and the property in this case.

Two or more coyotes working together on a deer, goat, or sheep is not uncommon. However, this is different because these animals have poor defenses against animals with large teeth. A large dog has a fearsome bark and a powerful bite, just in case.

I’ve lived in areas where coyotes were present and was more concerned about encountering a raccoon than a coyote. Raccoons can be vicious, but coyotes are easily startled.

However, if by any chance a coyote attacks your dog, be sure you are prepared with a dog first aid kit.

Coyote walking in the snow forest

How to Protect a Dog Against a Coyote?

If you have a smaller dog, one of the more preventive measures you can take is to get your dog a Coyote jacket. Coyote jackets (coyote vests) are primarily used for smaller breeds and are covered in materials that make it difficult for a coyote to attack. They’re available on Amazon as well.

They have spikes on both sides of the vest and work on dogs of all sizes, just be sure choose the size that fits your dog. Having a coyote vest offers a peace of mind knowing your dog is protected, but that’s just for the worst-case scenario.

Keeping a close eye on your pets, especially the small ones, is the best way to keep them safe. For a good reason, most people do not allow their pets to play in traffic. Similarly, there is an inherent risk in releasing an animal unsupervised in a predator-infested area.

Here are a few more tips on keeping your dog safe in coyote areas:

  • An advice I don’t see shared often: if coyotes approach the property, aim a strong flashlight at their face to blind them. This may work for long enough to figure out how to get your dog.
  • Another advice: never try to flee because they may run after you. Coyotes are predators with an automatic reaction to chase.
  • Get some bear spray. Make sure you and your dog face upwind when you spray it. It will put a halt to their progress.
  • Many coyotes don’t care if you yell because they’re used to people. You can, however, try shouting and acting scary.
  • A lot of people use an airhorn to scare them, and keeping one close to you may be a good idea.
  • Coyote rollers are a good way to keep coyotes away from your property, but they can be expensive if you have a large area. You could, however, try your hand at DIY. You can get them on Amazon as well.

Here’s an example of how to get started with Coyote rollers:

Remember that coyotes in more populated areas are rarely sufficiently hazed and will typically lose their fear of humans. Even if they prefer to avoid humans, they are often brave enough to approach homes in search of food.

Coyotes have been known to attack smaller dogs, but they generally avoid humans. If your presence does not scare them away, they may be rabid and must be captured or put down.

Urban coyotes, in particular, have been documented to display more audacity in their interactions, sometimes viewing domestic dogs not just as threats, but also as potential prey, especially if the dog is considerably smaller.

Can You Shoot the Coyote if It Attacked Your Dog?

Whether you can shoot the coyote will depend on the state you’re in. Coyotes are free game in some states and can be hunted all year, so it probably wouldn’t be an issue if you were protecting yourself and your dog.

In general, I don’t bother shooting the coyotes. Unless you shoot their entire pack, shooting them increases their population in the long run. Even if you disregard this advice, you could kill someone unless you have a lot of shooting practice.

If you’re near a city, remember that it is not always safe or legal to discharge a firearm within city limits.

What to Do if You Spot a Coyote Near Your Property?

If there are coyotes around your house or they are following you and are not scared by shouting, you should contact your local Rangers or Animal Control.

You can contact Animal Control at any time, whether or not coyotes are present. Tell them when and where you usually encounter coyotes, and they should take care of it. They usually calm them down and move them somewhere else.

If a coyote attacks your dog, you should take them to the vet. We never know what a wild animal is carrying. The dog must be thoroughly examined for wounds and internal injuries and possibly given a rabies booster.

Can One Single Dog Keep the Coyotes Away?

Depending on where you live, a single dog may be sufficient to keep coyotes at bay. There are various reasons why a single large-bred dog can defend himself against one or more coyotes.

For starters, coyotes are smaller and less adept at pack hunting. As a result, a hunting dog may be able to defend itself against a single coyote or even an entire pack.

When hunting, coyotes aren’t typically focused on killing the guard dog. The sheep, not the guard dog, are their prey. They only see the guard dog as a rival for the target. They’re hoping to catch a lamb while the dog is distracted and may only fight the dog if it gets too close to them.

Unlike wolf vs dog interactions, when it comes to coyotes, dogs have the upper hand here.

Coyotes can be dangerous if you catch one in the wrong place, but for the most part, they’re not a problem, especially if you have a large dog guarding your property.

What Dog Breeds Are Best at Guarding Against Coyotes?

Any dog that can get large enough will scare coyotes. These include The Great Pyrenees, Great Danes, Maremmas, Anatolian Shepherds, Giant Schnauzers, Cane Corso, Dogo Argentino, Greater Swiss, Plott Hounds, Rottweilers, and any of the Mastiff breeds.

Many people use dogs, such as the Great Pyrenees, to tend flocks. Because coyotes are small, one Pyrenees is roughly equivalent to ten coyotes. A few of them can easily outweigh 140 pounds. If they try one of them, the Coyotes will fight far outside their weight class.

The Pyrenees could have hair so thick that a coyote would have had difficulty biting him even if they had stood up to him in the first place.


Will a coyote jump a fence to attack a dog?

It will be more difficult for them to sneak attack if your backyard is completely fenced. A coyote would have difficulty breaking into your fenced-in backyard and escaping with your medium or large dog. And a swarm of them would most likely not do this.

Do coyotes attack during the day or night?

Coyotes tend to be more active at night or very early and late in the day when people are less active. They do this to avoid people and get prey more easily. As it gets colder, their activity during the day will increase.

What to do if a coyote attacks your dog?

If the coyote approaches your dog, you should try to yell and shout at the coyote, make noise and use a whistle or an air horn to scare them. Keep a safe distance, slowly back away but never turn your back on them. Call animal control afterward.

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