Can a Coyote Kill a Large Dog?

By John Martin - August 12, 2021

Coyote hunting in snow

There was a time when coyotes were only found in the wild. We don’t live in that world anymore.

They are, strictly speaking, a wild animal and encountering one can be a little intimidating if not downright scary. That is even more so the case if you have a pet dog or a cat.

But those of you who have large dogs might find yourself wondering if you big guy can take on the wild one and actually come out winning. Well, it’s not a given that they will make it.

Here’s why.

Coyotes and Dogs: The Origin of the Conflict

Coyotes are midnight predators and like to hunt small animals like mice, moles and rabbits. And the good news for you is that they don’t really target dogs—big or small.

They are also not viciously hunting for your pets. But before you rejoice, you should also think of a scenario when an unwelcome encounter takes place. What then?

Most of the time, if you spot a coyote in your back or front yard, they are there looking for food. This is if you are not in a remote area where, let’s be honest, humans shouldn’t even be.

Unfortunately, what we leave in our garbage cans is an excellent source of food for coyotes. It even attracts them to your property.

Coyotes like to go for animals that are smaller than them. You should know that when they or their little ones are really hungry, they don’t hesitate to feed on anything they can get their, well, paws on.

From April to August, you can assume that they are out looking for food to feed their babies because around February it is their mating season.

So, for the next few months, they will be looking for food rather aggressively and it is a terrible idea for anyone to get in their way. The same logic is true for the winter months when their food sources often run dry and they get creative looking for food.

That is true for most wild animals but when they come face to face with a big dog, what happens next? That’s the question of the hour, isn’t it?

Now, most dogs are territorial and do not like other animals in what they consider their area. But you cannot explain the inevitable conflict as a result of humans encroaching in the wild to your pet or the coyote.

This is not a situation where you can negotiate a peace talk. So, if the coyote is hungry and your dog is feeling aggressively territorial, you have a real problem on your hands.

Now, small or big, if your dog considers the coyote a threat, it is likely to react aggressively.

Also Read: Why Does My Dog Pee On Other Dogs?

What We Know About Coyotes with Respect to Dogs

Here’s the thing and you probably already know this. They don’t like encountering us any more than we like coming face to face with them.

Coyotes are actually a little scared of human beings but that won’t really stop them from attacking us. The same is true for our pets.

Dealing with a coyote is not like dealing with a neighborhood stray dog or an alley cat. Feeding them will not make them any more friendly towards you than they naturally are.

As mentioned before, they like going for animals that are smaller than them for obvious reasons. But if you see a pack of them, do not for a second think that they will hesitate to attack your large dog.

This is particularly true if they know the region well enough. It is also a good idea for you to remember that coyotes can’t really tell the difference between animals that are naturally their prey and your pets.

So, if they think they can take it, they will certainly give it a shot. But it might be comforting for you to know that they don’t go after a big animal if they are not provoked.

Although one can make the case that a large, barking dog might seem threatening enough for a pack to try and silence it while also making dinner plans simultaneously.

Most of the time, coyotes are known to hunt in pairs. You might not see them together but know that the second one is right around the corner. So, remember that a pack is definitely more than two.

What to Do When an Encounter Happens

Even if you have a dog like a Mastiff or a pit bull, there are a few things you can do to help your buddy out when they encounter a coyote.

Noise is a great way to chase away a coyote. So, get a couple of pans and pots from your kitchen and make banging noises. Screaming and stomping are also said to help. You can also use your car horn if reaching it seems like a safe option.

If you managed to get rid of the coyote but your dog got injured, rush them to the vet right away. It is important to determine how bad the bruises are and if there are any bites.

Coyotes are known carriers of rabies and this can be extremely dangerous even for dogs. The vet should take care of the wound and get your pet an antibiotic that will help take care of any possible infection.

While you are at it, now is also a good time to take a look at your pet insurance and see if this is a scenario that your insurance adjuster will cover. If coyotes are regular visitors to your area, you might want to make sure that this is taken care of.

We like to think this will never happen to our pets but as they say, better safe than sorry.

Also Read: Why Do Dogs Kill Birds?

What Precautions Can You Take?

Thankfully, there are a few things you can keep in mind if coyotes show up in your neighborhood on a regular basis.

  • The first of them all is to never feed them intentionally.
  • Then there is the issue of feeding them accidentally. By that, we mean leaving any kind of food, including pet food, outside your home where coyotes can access it.
  • If you have a grill, make sure you clean it well and store it in your shed or garage after you are done with your barbecue party.
  • You should also keep a lid, quite literally, on your garbage and recycling cans and only leave them out just before the city employees come to collect it.
  • If you have a garden and are serious about it, it is possible that you have a compost bin. Now, this one can be left outside, but you must cover it properly. Also, remember never to add waste from meat to compost because this can attract wildlife.
  • If you have fruit trees in your garden or anywhere on your property, keep a close watch on fallen fruits and pick them up right away. Even if they are just rotting on the grounds, you are inviting trouble.
  • If you have cats, you might also want to keep them inside at least after sunset, which is more likely to be the hunting zone for coyotes and other wild animals that might find their way to your property.
  • Whether you have a small dog or a big one, it is not a great idea to leave them on a leash outside the house. When they are tied up, they have an even lesser chance of fighting a wild animal like a coyote with any success.
  • And if you don’t keep them on a leash, it is still a bad idea to leave them unsupervised outside the house after it is dark out there.

Other Precautions You Can Take

These are precautions you can take in terms of the landscaping of your property so that you are not caught off guard by a coyote attack.

  • Get a high fence that makes it difficult for a coyote to climb over. It doesn’t always stop the coyotes from climbing over, but it might give you enough time to get your canine back in the house.

    Also, remember that transparent fences like chain links won’t help. Your dog must not be visible to the coyotes to stop both the animals from provoking each other into a conflict.
  • Look into outdoor lighting options. Anything from bright keychain lights to motion detector lights is better than darkness. Coyotes hate bright light.
  • Get rid of thick bushes which might give coyotes a place to hide and wait for a chance to attack your dog.

Also Read: Do Dogs Know When They Are Dying?

Wrapping Up

A large guard dog might give you a lot of confidence because they are aggressive and you have trained them to attack an intruder. But dealing with humans and a few other animals is not the same as successfully thwarting a coyote attack.

And when you think about it, coyotes themselves don’t like to encounter humans and are a bit scared of them. So, if they show up, they must be pretty desperate for food for themselves or their pups, right?

That is really not a situation when you want to test out your dog’s capabilities. Save it for the little animals.