How to Tell the Difference Between Coyote & Dog Tracks


Coyotes are a part of the dog family, so it may be hard for an average person to differentiate between dog and coyote tracks. However, to a trained eye, it can be fairly simple to tell the two apart. There are subtle differences in the tracks between the two that if you know what to look for, you can tell them apart. When you find a track, it is important to look at more than one print to get an idea of what animal left the trail. At times, the track of dogs and coyotes look so similar that it may be hard to tell them apart just by looking at one print. We have the two different type of tracks summarised so you know how they differ.

What Dog Tracks Look Like

  • The dog track print has a roundish shape and their claw is blunt since they walk on pavements alone. So you will notice that the claw print are usually not as pointed at the top.
  • The two center toes are closer to the heel pad while the two toes at the corners are pointed outwards.
  • Since the shape is roundish and the toes are not evenly spaced out from the heel pad, it would be difficult to draw an “X” in the middle of the toe prints and the heel print, in the negative space.
  • The trail of the print will usually not be in a straight line or leading to a place. It will be here and there which show that the dog was just out and about rather than looking for food or hunting on prey.

What Coyote Tracks Look Like

  • Coyotes track is overall an oval shape and their claw prints will be more pointy at the end since they don’t have as much contact with pavement or hard surface floors.
  • The two center toes print are positioned at the top of the heel print and the corner two toes are pointed inwards.
  • There is plenty of negative space between the heel print and the two center toes for you to draw an “X” in the middle.

When you can’t tell the difference apart from in terms of prints, then it is important you pay close attention to the trail itself. The trail left behind by coyotes are more straight and almost business oriented since it would be from them having a purpose to be out and about as opposed to a dog. It takes a little practice but once you have the difference down, it gets a lot easier to identify the difference between a dog and coyote tracks.