“Can a dog get a cat pregnant?” is a question that occasionally pops up for various reasons. At PawSafe, we love to focus on education for animal lovers and pet parents, so we decided to take a serious look at the question. After all, although cats and dogs look different, they may not look as different as the Chihuahua from the Great Dane.
So why can such drastically different types of dogs produce babies, but not a feline and a canine? Some of us may even be worried after seeing an unneutered dog trying to hump everything, including the cat.
Sidenote: If you have a dog on heat drawing unwanted attention from the neighborhood, you may want to use a deodorizing spray to reduce the scent of the pheromones. But you’ll still need to keep her separate for the duration of the heat to avoid unwanted pregnancy. It also helps if your dog smells like metal or something fishy.
These days, people often misuse the word “hybrid” for mixed breeds of dogs, calling mixed breeds like the Dalmador a “hybrid.” Any breed of dog belongs to the same species, so crossbreeding does not give you a hybrid; it gives you a mixed-breed dog. A hybrid is a mix of two species, which is very rare. So let’s delve into the world of hybrids and what animals a dog can get pregnant.
Can a dog get a cat pregnant? How animal hybrids work
A dog cannot impregnate a cat because they are not the same species or genus. Dogs are a species called Canis familiaris. Domestic cats are a species called Felis catus in Latin. They are also not the same genus. Their DNA is so different that a dog’s sperm cannot fertilize a cat’s egg.
But what do words like “genus” mean? It all comes down to chromosomes and something called “taxonomy.” Taxonomy is the family tree of all living things on earth. Essentially, the closer a species is to another species, the better the likelihood they can mate and produce offspring.
We will start with the base of the tree, the Animal Kingdom, and work our way down to the dog. The Animal Kingdom includes all the animals, from dogs to snails.
- The tree then branches off into “Phylum Chordata.” These are all animals with a backbone. So now we’ve left snails behind, but we’re still counting fish and birds. Many of these animals can imprint on you if you raise them. See this article to know if your dog imprinted on you.
- Then the tree branches off again, and we get the Class Mammalia. These are all mammals, including humans, dolphins, cats, and dogs.
- The next branch of the tree is the Order Carnivora. These are all the mammals that mainly eat flesh, like lions, tigers, wolves, etc. Dogs and cats are still in the same order.
- But dogs and cats are no longer boxed together at the next branch, the Family. Dogs branch off into Canidae, and cats are the family Felidae. In Canidae, all the dog-like animals, including wolves and foxes, are in one group, and all the cat-like animals, such as bobcats and tigers, are in the Felidae family.
- Dogs, wolves, coyotes, jackals, etc., branch into the genus Canis, and their their own species, like the domestic dog (Canis Familiaris). The species “dog” is then subdivided into different breeds like the Corgi or the Pitbull.
When can two different species mate?
Many animals that share the same breed, species, and genus can make because they share most of the same DNA. Dogs share 99.9% of their DNA with wolves, which means they can mate and produce offspring. But Dogs and Wolves both have 78 Chromosomes.
Compare this with cats, who have 38 chromosomes, and humans, who have 46! The difference in the chromosomes means cat and dog DNA is far too different to combine and make a hybrid. So even if species should mate, the two strands of DNA in the egg and sperm could not match and fertilize the egg.
The closest species to modern humans are mostly extinct. But our DNA shows that we once mixed with other species like Denisovans and Neanderthals. So many of us humans today are descended from hybrids of extinct human species.
Likewise, cats can mix with other cat species closely related to them to make cat hybrids.
As a side note, the fact that dogs have so many more chromosomes than most mammals is why the breeds of dogs look so different. With all those different chromosomes, it’s far easier to change characteristics like size, ear shapes, colors, coats, and all the other things that make a Spaniel different from a Basset.
So to get back to the original point, dogs cannot cause a pregnant cat because their DNA is too different, and they are too far apart on the animal family tree. It does not matter if it is a male cat, a female cat, a male dog, or a female dog. Cat and dog DNA does not mix.
But what can a dog get pregnant? Looking at dog hybrids
Canid hybrids are quite common, probably more common than most other kinds of mammal hybrids. When a dog mates with another canid, they create hybrids that can mate.
This is rare. Most interspecies hybrids are infertile, like the mule (donkey crossed with a horse) or the Liger (A Lion mixed with Tiger). What’s interesting is that dogs have many kinds of hybrids that have become entirely new breeds.
Let’s take a closer look.
Can A dog get a wolf pregnant?
Yes, a dog can get a wolf pregnant. When a dog gets a wolf pregnant or vice versa, this is a wolf hybrid or a wolfdog. Wolfdogs are increasingly popular but generally make terrible pets.
Still, some recognized dog breeds today, like the Saarloos Wolfdog and the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog, are the products of dog and wolf crossbreeding.
Can a dog get a Coyote pregnant?
Dogs and coyotes can have pups. The offspring of a male coyote and a female dog is called a Coydog. When it’s a female coyote and a male dog, the pups are called Dogotes. Like wolfdogs, the puppies are fertile and can breed.
A population of white coyotes in Newfoundland exists because a Golden Retriever found its way into their genetics. And Canada’s indigenous people were known to breed wolves and coyotes in their sleddogs, like the Greenland dog.
Can a dog breed with a Dingo?
Dogs breeding with dingoes in Australia is pretty common. In fact, most Dingoes in certain areas probably were mixed with dogs at some point. But this makes sense since Dingoes were first domesticated East Asian dogs that became wild again.
Today’s Australian Cattle Dog is descended from the Dingo and a herding dog called the Northumberland Blue Merle Drovers. From these, we get the Cowboy Corgi.
Can a dog mate with a Jackal?
Not only can dogs breed with Jackals, specifically the Golden Jackal, but mixing Spitz and Terrier breeds together have created an entirely new breed of dog called the Sulimov Dog.
Today, the Sulimov Dog is one-quarter Jackal and three-quarters Husky. These Jackal hybrids have a superior sense of smell and are used in Russian airports as detection dogs.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a dog get a tiger pregnant?
A dog cannot get a tiger pregnant. A dog is part of the Canid family, while the tiger is part of the genus Panthera, with other big cats like lions. Tigers are close enough to lions to have offspring, but their offspring cannot reproduce the way that dog and wolf hybrids can.
Can a lion get a cat pregnant?
A lion cannot get a cat pregnant. Firstly, because of the size difference, it is physically impossible. Secondly, lions are in the genus Panthera with tigers, jaguars, and leopards, while domestic cats belong to smaller cats subspecies.
This means a male or female cat can mate with wild cats like servals, leopard cats, caracals, fishing cats, or sand cats.
Can a dog have a kitten?
By definition, a dog can only have puppies and not kittens. A kitten is a word we use for the offspring of small cat species like the domestic cat. Puppy is a word we use for baby dogs. However, it is possible that dogs can adopt and raise kittens as their own. Just can’t give birth to them.
Animal hybrids are a mix of two different species (not two different breeds) and are very rare. In captivity, people tend to breed hybrids either for a purpose, like for the strength and sturdiness of a mule, or the superior sense of smell in the Sulimov Dog, or they are bred for novelty.
But if two species, like the dog and the cat, are not closely related genetically, they cannot produce any offspring.
Tamsin De La HarpeAuthor
Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.
Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.