Jackal vs Coyote: 3 Key Differences

jackal vs coyote
The domestic dog, the wolf, fox, jackal, wild dog, and the coyote are members of the taxonomy Canidae, and they have highly similar physical characteristics and appearances. However, they are all distinct species, each possessing unique characteristics.

Jackals are native to the old world, whereas coyotes are found in Central and North America. Although coyotes are bigger than jackals, their biting force is not quite as powerful as that of the jackal. The coyote and jackal are Canis latrans and Canis aureus, respectively, as their scientific names.

Jackals can survive on their own or in groups of any size. Coyotes are primarily gregarious animals that travel in packs and adhere to a strict social order. These are the key differences between these two critters. While these two have some similarities, they also have significant differences. This article focuses on the notable differences between these two wild canids.

two coyotes close up, one in the background licking its lips

The 3 Key Differences Between a Jackal and a Coyote 

Before we highlight their fundamental differences, let’s look at each Canidae:


Jackals are omnivorous mammals that can range in size from small to medium. They belong to the Canis genus, including coyotes, domestic dogs, and wolves. 

The term “jackal” has been used historically as a general name for a wide variety of small canids. But today, it primarily refers to three species: 

  • The Canis mesomelas and side-striped jackals in sub-Saharan Africa, are closely related to one another.
  • The golden jackal of south-central Eurasia (all of Europe and Asia) is more strongly linked to other genus Canis members.
jackal in golden light, standing before tall,  brown grass

Jackals are opportunistic omnivores and skilled scavengers. Jackals prey on animals of a smaller to medium size. They have curved canines and long legs for hunting birds, small mammals, reptiles, and birds. In addition, their fused leg bones and big feet give them the perfect build for long-distance running. That is why they can maintain speeds of 16 kilometers per hour (9.9 miles per hour) for long hours.

Jackals are nocturnal animals, meaning they are most active in the early morning and late evening.

Their most prevalent form of social organization is a monogamous pair. They protect their territory from other monogamous pairs by aggressively chasing intruding competitors and marking landmarks throughout their domain using their feces and urine. 

Their territories are usually big enough to accommodate the young adults. So jackals live with their parents in these territories until they get their own territorial area. 

Jackals typically hunt alone or in pairs. But sometimes, they decide to scavenge for carrion in small packs.

Jackal skulking behind some large leaf plants


The coyote (Canis latrans), is a carnivore. It’s known as the prairie wolf or the American jackal in zoology. It is found in North America, though it has its close relative in the canid species from Ethiopia called the Ethiopian wolf- it is also a Carnivora.

Coyotes are considerably smaller than the Canis lupus, their close relative or the red wolf. Even though it is bigger and more aggressive than the golden jackal in Eurasia, it is not different from the golden jackal in terms of its ecological niche.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature has determined that the coyote has a widespread distribution and abundant population over North America, Central America, and southward through Mexico. 

Coyotes have increased at an alarming rate in Los Angeles over the past several years. The species has a wide range of capabilities, including the ability to adjust to and flourish in settings altered by humans. The number is growing of coyotes coming into urban areas of the Eastern United States. In 2013, it was spotted for the first time in eastern Panama.

Two coyotes in snow

In 2005, statistics showed that there were over 19 coyote subspecies.

A typical male weighs between 8 and 20 kilograms (between 18 and 44 lb.). The typical female weighs between 7 and 18 kilograms (15 and 40 lb). Coyotes are larger than the average vulpes, or foxes.

Most of them have light gray fur. Others have red fur similar to the South American maned wolf, though these are different species. Some also have fulvous black and white; however, the exact coloration can vary slightly depending on where they are.

Coyotes have a social organization that is very adaptable; they can choose to live as a family or sometimes in loosely connected packs of individuals that are not related to each other.

Coyotes have a diversified diet that consists primarily of animal flesh, like deer, raccoons, rabbits, rodents, antelopes, hares, amphibians, birds, reptiles, invertebrates, and fish. But they also eat vegetables and fruits and vegetables once in a while.

Solitary coyotes produce a distinctive howl as their primary mode of communication. The most dangerous predators for the coyote are the human, cougar, and the gray wolf. But somehow, this predator-prey relationship between wolves (particularly the eastern, red, or gray wolf) and coyotes does not stop them from mating and generating “coywolf” offspring.

The eastern coyote, found in the northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada, is the product of numerous historical and more recent matings with a wide variety of subspecies of wolves. Despite its increased size, it is still significantly smaller than wolves. Studies on genetics have shown that most wolves found in North America include traces of coyote DNA.

coyote walking through a damp pathway, surrounded by thorny brush

There are a lot of exciting facts about jackals and coyotes. Here’s a summary of the key differences between the jackal and coyote:


A jackal can weigh up to 26 pounds on average and has a length of around 2.5 feet. It also stands about 16 inches tall. The average adult coyote weighs up to 45 pounds, has a length of about three feet, and can reach a height of up to 26 inches.


Jackals have 42 teeth, each of which is exactly an inch long. It is skilled in seizing its prey once it catches it. Coyotes also have 42 teeth, although longer at about an inch and a half. The biting force of a jackal is at 94 BFQ. The bite force of a coyote is at 88 BFQ; hence, the jackal possesses a bite that is more powerful than the coyote.

jackal close up shot


Jackals have an enhanced sense of smell, superior to dogs. They also have excellent night vision. The jackal’s hearing is sharp enough for them to detect animals moving around underground in tunnels. Coyotes have excellent vision, particularly during the nighttime. They have a sense of smell comparable to that of a dog. Their hearing is acute enough that they can detect the motion of animals a quarter of a mile away.

coyote striding through medium high grass

Are Jackals Bigger Than Coyotes?

No, a healthy adult coyote can weigh anything from 15 to 45 pounds. The height of their shoulders ranges between 24 and 26 inches. A coyote’s body length is between 30 and 35 inches. The weight of a jackal can range anywhere from 11 to 26 pounds. They range in length from 24 to 30 inches and have a shoulder height of 16 inches. Based on these measurements, jackals are smaller than coyotes.

jackal standing amongst a dry and rocky background

Can Coyotes Breed With Jackals?

The wolf (including the dingo and domestic dog), coyote, and jackal have 78 chromosomes arranged in 39 pairs. That allows them to hybridize freely (barring size or behavioral constraints) and produce fertile offspring.

Are Golden Jackals and Coyotes Related?

According to experts, “African golden wolf” is the proper name for the golden jackal. These experts also say that the African golden wolf is closely related to the gray wolf.

Joshua Munoz

Most people’s first instinct when they see a wild skunk is to back away, but not Joshua. He holds a near-obsessive fascination with skunks and their behavior. Although Joshua has never been closer than five feet to a skunk, he has spent countless hours researching them. He knows almost everything there is to know about skunks, from their diet and habitat, to how to humanely trap them. Joshua’s interest in skunks is rooted in his love of animal biology. He fondly remembers topping his finals in biology class while in university. Now, as a writer, he fuses passion and expertise into one by sharing his knowledge about the animal kingdom with others.

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