There are very few corgi owners out there that haven’t at least once heard the comment that their favorite puppy looks like a cute little fox. If you are one of them, you have probably spent so much time with your puppy that you are no longer aware of the similarities.
But take another look, and you will see they share more than a couple of passing similarities.
So why do corgis look like foxes?
The answer is relatively simple – they are cousins and share much of the same genetic material.
This answer raises some other important questions. For instance, foxes have never been known as the ideal pets. As a matter of fact, there is a strict code of regulation about what breeds of foxes can be legally owned as pets and in which circumstances.
So, what are the specific relationships between two breeds, and are corgis too similar to foxes to be good pets?
Let’s find out!
The Short History Of The Canidae Family
To answer these important questions, we will need to take a look back into the history of domestic dogs.
Present-day domestic dogs belong to a large taxonomic family called Canidae. Much like other species from this family, domestic dogs have once again roamed the wilderness and hunted their prey.
But, as time went on, human beings came in touch with these animals and started domesticating them. The archeological data suggests that dogs were buried with humans as early as 14,000 years ago. About 10,000 years ago, dogs were the regular members of human households.
That’s a pretty cool fact if you think about it. Dogs are not only humans’ best friends. They are also the oldest.
But, let’s go back to the topic…
Present-day domestic dogs make only one subspecies of the vast Canidae family. If we take a look at this rich family tree (according to the University of Michigan’s Animal Diversity Web Canidae family includes 14 genera and 34 species), we will find numerous other animals like:
- Coyote (latrans)
- Golden jackal (aureus)
- Dhole (alpinus)
- Dogs (canis)
Of course, this family also includes our favorite cartoon villains and the topic of this article – foxes also going under the adorable Latin name Vulpes.
The Similarities Between Dogs And Foxes
Sharing this ancient history and close prehistoric connections, it is expected that different members of the Canidae family share some similar traits.
Some dog breeds like huskies and Alaskan malamutes gained worldwide popularity because they look just like beautiful wild wolves. Of course, this is not the only reason since these breeds are darn loveable but still.
In much the same manner, the canine world is packed with different breeds that share a noticeable resemblance with their distant cousins, foxes. Here are some of the most notable mentions:
- The Finnish spitz
- Korean Jindo dogs
- Alaskan Klee Kai
- Japanese Shiba Inu
- Volpino Italiano
- American Eskimo dog
- Icelandic sheepdog
- Kugsha dog
Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without our best friend Corgi that packs that trademark long pointed ears and fluffy tail, just like some of the beautiful red foxes you can see roaming the wilderness.
So, are Corgis part foxes, and do they have that “call of the wild” ringing in their ears?
How Corgis Came To Be? Are Corgis Related To Foxes?
As you can probably guess, to see do Corgis have fox in them, we will have to look at the history of this breed and see if there are any connections.
With that in mind, we have to admit that the earliest history of Corgis is a bit murky. But, we still have more than enough data to make some educated assumptions and fill in the blanks.
First and foremost, present-day Corgis can be divided into two major groups – the more popular Pembroke Welsh Corgi and its somewhat neglected cousin Cardigan Welsh Corgi.
The history of Cardigan Welsh Corgi is truly ancient. According to some accounts, the breed was brought to the Island by the Norse settlers. Thus it shares a common ancestry with the famous Swedish Vallhund.
Pembroke Welsh Corgis came to Britain a bit later alongside the famous Flemish weavers that settled Wales somewhere around the 10th century.
In spite of some differences, these two breeds have a long time been considered the same. The Welsh people also gave them the same name. In Welsh, “cor” means dwarf, while “ci” means dog. So, these two breeds of “dwarf dogs” had plenty of opportunities to crossbreed over the centuries and were even shown as the same breed at the dog shows.
The situation changed in 1934 when Pembroke Welsh and Cardigan Corgis finally divorced and are now considered two different breeds.
As we can see, the history of Corgis has been pretty exciting but also entirely foxes-less. But, let us not forget that foxes are found throughout Britain in all habitats. As a matter of fact, they are among the most common mammals in this part of the globe.
Is there any chance that foxes and corgis crossbred at some point and present-day Corgis carry some of those red fox genes?
The Differences Between Foxes And Corgis
Well, we don’t want to spoil the fun, but the chances for this love affair are literally nonexistent. You see, Corgis and foxes may be distant relatives, but they are entirely different beasts. For the lack of better words, their parts are simply not compatible.
So, are Corgirs related to fox?
The answer is yes. But, in spite of this shared ancestry, the two lineages have, at some point, split and developed into two similar but also very different species. Dozens of thousands of years, countless mutations, and a long period of domestication drew the line between foxes and dogs that can no longer be cross.
Let us try to illustrate just how different dogs and foxes are on the most basic level:
- Although they can reach the ripe age of 14 when they are raised in captivity, the average lifespan of wild foxes is no longer than 2 to 4 years.
- Foxes have much shorter attention spans. This can be ascribed to the thousands of years of domestication that prepared the dogs to learn commands from their masters. As intelligent as they are, foxes are driven purely by instincts and can’t be trained nearly as easily as dogs.
- The foxes can’t be reliably house-trained. This is partially due to the limited attention span we have mentioned above. But, even if we put this aside, foxes pack scent, temperament, and disposition that is entirely feral and not suitable for closed environments like apartments.
- Domestic dogs like Corgis are known as very sociable animals. They love humans, they love kids, and they love spending time with other animals. Foxes are used to live on the run from various predators, so they are incredibly shy.
All these differences should make one thing clear – the similarities between foxes and Corgis and entirely artificial and probably originate in the sea of recessive genes these two species have stockpiled over the countless millennia.
Don’t Give Up On The Foxes Yet
This answer should put your worries to rest. Well, at least if you are afraid that your Corgi may break loose and do something that’s not very friendly and polite. But, on the other hand, some people love that healthy dose of unexpected in their lives and are drawn by fox’s beauty, cunning, and wild spirit.
If you consider yourself one of them, you will be glad to know that some regions of the world do allow people to own certain species of foxes legally. Let us count some of the most important mentions.
- Arctic Fox can be owned in the tundra habitats of North Asia, North America, and North Europe.
- Bat-Eared Fox can be raised in some regions of Africa.
- Corsac Fox is a legal pet in some regions of Asia.
- Grey Fox can be owned in regions of North America and South America.
- Red Fox is native to the regions of North Africa, North America, and Eurasia, where they can also be legally held as pets.
- Swift Fox is a legal pet in North America.
Of course, these regions will allow you to hold one wild animal captive without meeting various safety and ethical requirements. Keep that in mind if you want to expand your pet family by one additional member.
To sum it all up, Corgis do share many similarities with foxes. But, they are hardly the only dog breed to do so. This is really not that unusual. Dogs, foxes, wolves, and numerous other species belong to the same Canidae family of animals, and like all other cousins, they share some similar visual traits.
In the case of Corgis and foxes, those would be small stature and pointed ears. But, this is where the similarities stop. We have to remember that foxes and dogs, in general, are two entirely different species with different genes. Therefore they can’t crossbreed.
Learn More: What Are Corgis Related To?