Can you tell whether that canine hanging out in your backyard is safe to pet? Sure it might be a neighbor's dog -- but it could also be a coyote, wolf or some other critter that you definitely don't want to tangle with. Take our quiz to see if you can tell one member of this animal family from another!
The Canidae family includes more than 30 different species, known as canids. They include domestic dogs, like retrievers and poodles, as well as slightly more feral critters, including wolves, coyotes, jackals, foxes and even wild dogs, like dingos. They're found on every continent except for Antarctica and live everywhere from the mountains or desert, to icy tundra to your very own living room.
Canids all share the same basic features -- so if you see one in the wild, you'd probably know it was related to the dog -- but there's also a surprising level of variation between species. Some have wiry hair and raccoon-like faces, while others have layered coats that allow them to survive in some of the coldest spots on Earth. They range in length from less than a foot to nearly 7 feet and can weigh less than a typical housecat or more than an average-sized man.
Think you can name the various members of the canine family from just a single photo? Take our quiz to find out!
For more than 150 years, this critter was called the African golden jackal. It wasn't until the 21st century that scientists did some DNA testing and discovered it was a canine, not a jackal. You can find this wolf in northern and eastern Africa.
Native to southern Africa and found in arid climates, the cape fox is also known as the cama or sliver-backed fox. It has a small frame, but over-sized ears and a majestic tail -- which is always black on the tip.
The culpeo or Andean fox is found only in South America. Males measure more than 4 feet long, weigh an average of 25 pounds and have a large bushy tail.
Found in Europe and Asia, the golden jackal is similar to the gray wolf, but is usually slightly smaller. It has shorter legs and a pointier muzzle than the gray, and is known as a very social creature.
The dhole or Asian wild dog is also known as the whistling dog. It has an appearance that is a mix between the gray wolf and the red fox, and is known for being social among members of its species -- living in packs with organized hierarchies.
The Australian wild dog, or dingo is sandy yellow to red in color and howls or barks like a domestic dog. And yes, it turns out a dingo probably did eat that baby, unfortunately.
Native to Pakistan and southern India, the Bengal fox can be recognized by its massive tail, which can be as long as 60 percent of its entire body length. This canine has pointy ears and a long muzzle, and generally weighs less than 10 pounds.
Extinct since the last of the species died off around 10,000 years ago, the dire wolf was native to North and South America. It was likely a fierce pack hunter, weighing as much as 150 pounds.
Native to Brazil, the hoary fox feasts on insects and rodents. With an average weight between 6 and 8 pounds, this small fox is very agile and a fast runner.
Native to North America, the coyote is often referred to as the American jackal because of its resemblance to the jackals of Europe and Asia. They weigh as much as 50 pounds, and live in packs with both family and non-family members.
Native to the Sahara and Arabian deserts, the fennec fox weighs less than 3 pounds, making it the smallest of the canines. This fox has extremely large ears, which give it a strong sense of hearing, but are also used to regulate the animal's body temperature.
The Shiba Inu is a domestic dog that was originally bred for hunting. Males weigh just over 20 pounds on average. This species nearly went extinct after WWII, but careful breeding has brought its numbers back up since that time.
Native to Sub-Saharan Africa, the African wild dog is one of the easiest canines to identify. Also known as the painted dog, it has a mottled or speckled coat and big round ears. In addition, it only has four toes per foot, instead of the standard five.
The side-striped jackal lives in eastern and southern Africa. Ranging from 14 to 30 pounds on average, this creature usually lives alone. It can be buff or grey in color, but usually has a darker grey back that makes it easier to identify.
The bush dog or vinegar dog weighs in between 11 and 18 pounds. Native to Central and South America, it has a short snout, short legs and a very bushy tail.
You've probably seen the Tibetan sand fox around. Thanks to its super square face and narrow squinted eyes, it's become a popular meme. It calls the Tibetan plateau of China, Nepal and Bhutan home.
Also known as the forest fox or wood fox, the crab-eating fox lives in the central part of South America. It feasts on crabs and lizards, and has wide rounded ears that are more cat-like than dog-like.
The Ethiopia or Abyssinian wolf resembles the coyote but has a narrower head and reddish to white fur. Due to habitat destruction and attacks by wild dogs, this wolf is considered endangered.
Native to northern Japan, the akita was bred to hunt large animals, like bears. Male members of this very independent domestic dog species generally range from 100 to 130 pounds.
Native to the island of Cozumel in Mexico, the Cozumel fox is believed to be extinct. It was last spotted in 2001, and was likely a dwarf version of the gray fox that evolved after years of isolation on the island.
Found throughout the eastern United States, the red wolf is seriously endangered due to habitat destruction. It looks like a cross between a coyote and a gray wolf and weighs between 50 and 85 pounds.
The Alaskan malamute is a domestic dog bred for hauling freight and pulling sleds. It has almond-shaped eyes, weighs around 80 pounds, and ranges from gray to black with white on its underside and face.
It's easy to see where the bat-eared fox gets its name; this creature has huge bat-like ears, that are used to regulate body temperature and listen for prey. It creature calls the African savanna home.
Native to northern China, the chow-chow is a domestic dog whose name roughly translates to "puffy lion." It has a dense coat with a mane or ruff around its neck, a curly tail, and a unique blue-black tongue.
Darwin's fox can only be found in Chile, and is considered endangered, primarily due to attacks from feral dogs. More of a wolf than a true fox, it has rounded, cat-like ears.
From tiny Yorkies to giant mastiffs, all domestic dogs are members of the same species. Somewhere around 10,000 years ago, they formed a mutually-beneficial bond with humans, and they've been sleeping on our couches ever since.
The German shepherd was originally bred to herd sheep. Males range from 60 to 90 pounds. This dog can be identified by its erect ears and black nose.
Native to North and Central America, the grey fox is one of only two canine species capable of climbing trees. It weighs less than 16 pounds, and is unusual in that it has oval pupils, versus the slit pupils of many other foxes.
Found in eastern and southern Africa, the black-backed jackal is easy to spot because its dark back fur looks like a black saddle. It weighs as much as 30 pounds, and lives in monogamous family units with its mate and offspring.
Native to the deserts of Central Asia, the corsac fox is also called the steppe fox or sand fox. It is threatened due to fur hunters, who kill the animal for its thick silky coat. Weighing between 3 and 7 pounds on average, this canine barks similar to domestic dogs.
The gray wolf or timber wolf lives in remote areas of Europe, Asia and North America. Males weigh 100 pounds on average. These animals are known for forming packs consisting of a mated pair and their offspring.
Also known as the sand fox, Ruppell's fox lives in northern Africa, the Middle East and southwestern Asia. It measures less than 3 feet long, including its tail, which can make up a full half of its body length. The fur on its pads allows it to travel with ease on hot sand.
The size of a domestic cat, the swift fox lives in the western part of North American. It weighs between 5 and 7 pounds on average, and was endangered in the 1930s before its numbers were revived through conservation efforts.
Known as the skunk wolf for its strong odor, the maned wolf is the tallest and biggest canine species in South America. It prefers to live alone and weighs around 50 pounds.
One of only two canine species capable of climbing trees, the raccoon dog gets its name from the fact that it looks like a raccoon with rimmed eyes. It is one of the few canines that hibernates, and generally lives as a pair with its mate.
The golden retriever is a domestic dog that was originally bred to retrieve ducks and other birds shot by hunters. This friendly, easy to train dog is popular with pet owners, and also common for those who need service dogs. Despite its name, it can range from cream to golden in color.
The kit fox is the smallest fox species, but has some of the biggest ears of all its relatives. Native to the southwest U.S. and Mexico, it uses its ears not only to hear but also to regulate its body temperature.
The beagle is a domestic dog with short hair in shades of black, brown tan and white. It is a relatively small hound, weighing 20 to 25 pounds, but has an extremely powerful nose.
Short-eared dogs live exclusively within the Amazon basin. They have short, round ears, short legs -- and partially webbed toes for swimming.
The pale box lives in Africa between Senegal and Sudan. It has a sandy coat, which helps it to blend in to its surroundings, and weighs just 5 pounds.
The Falkland Islands wolf is the only land-based mammal native to the Islands. It likely went extinct in the 1870s.
Found throughout much of the northern hemisphere, the red fox is the largest fox species. They live in pairs or small families and have dense fur that ranges from red to chestnut brown.
The rottweiler is a domestic dog originally bred to herd cattle and haul carts of meat to market. Males weigh between 110 and 132 pounds, and both sexes have a characteristic black and mahogany coloring.
Also known as the Peruvian desert fox, the Sechura fox lives in the Sechura Desert in Ecuador and Peru. It weighs just 5 to 10 pounds and can subsist entirely on a vegetarian diet if necessary.
Also known as the white or snow fox, the Arctic fox has thick fur that ranges from white to silvery blue. Males weigh around 7 pounds and measure 18 to 27 inches.
The boxer is a domestic working dog that weighs between 55 and 70 pounds. It typically has either a fawn or brindle coat, but a small number are almost entirely white.
The Pampas fox is also known as Azara's fox, and lives in southern and central South America. It weighs between 5 and 18 pounds and has gray fur with a black line running down its back.
Native to Argentina and Chile, the South American gray fox is also known as the Patagonian fox or chilla. It weighs 5 to 12 pounds and always has a dark gray or black spot on its chin.
Native to California's Channel Islands, the island fox is the smallest fox in North America. It actually consists of five slightly different subspecies, all which evolved independently from a common ancestor. Each species is unique to just one of the islands.