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HOME QUESTIONS Pros and Cons Can Dogs and Cats Breed?

Can Dogs and Cats Breed?

When pondering, “can dogs and cats breed?” several additional questions might pop into mind. Thoughts such as, “If not, why?” or “If so, where are all of the strange feline-canine combinations out there?” Is it really possible to crossbreed a dog and a cat?

A dog and cat cannot interbreed with one another.  Genetic differences will not allow any successful offspring to generate between these two kinds of animals. Different species of the same kind of animal can successfully breed, but not two different kinds of animals- regardless of the species.

This is the kind of topic that crosses into the imagination of movie scriptwriters and fictional authors everywhere. When you get the gist of this concept, the whole idea of animals that can breed together begin to get less confusing.

Animal Evolution

hourglass being pushed by a man

We live in a world that is packed full of animals. However, the more we work our way backward, we wind up with fewer and fewer varieties and narrow them down to their original ancestry.

When we remove all of the offshoots as we turn back the clock, we wind down to the original base types of animals. When we do this with dogs, we wind up with a couple of wolves.

With cats, it narrows down to a panther-like type of feline. The point being, the wolf and the panther-like feline are two completely different types of animals- or two completely different “Kinds.”

black cat lying on the couch

As time pushed on and diverse challenges arose, different “species” began shooting off the original animal kinds. As far as canines go, what was once one kind of wolf turned into several species after its original kind- all genetically similar though bearing diverse features.

The feline kind of animal is said to have had about eight significant lineage breaks throughout history, all of which produced a variety of species. These breaks help to explain the branch of large cats vs. smaller wildcats as well as house cats.

The Difference Between Kinds and Species

kinds and species of animals

The difference between “Kinds” and “Species” is a natural barrier that animals cannot naturally cross. I said all of the above to help you understand that no matter what species you choose, when paired with an animal that is not of the same type, breeding will not bear any offspring.

Their forefathers and foremothers couldn’t do it, so it is true with their offspring regardless of how far removed they are- the genetics don’t allow it to happen as a natural process.

Why are Hybrids so Interesting?

hybrid terrier

There’s a reason why people would ask about different kinds of animals breeding together. It’s just an interesting idea all-around.

What if you could interbreed cats with dogs? Just think of what the results would be! Some would be kind of impressive- others downright terrifying.

You could wind up with a dog the size of a tiger or a cat that feels compelled to howl into the moonlight. How about a Pit bull, the size of a tiger that can jump seven times its own height?

It’s fun to think about, but the reality of it is, if it could happen, it would’ve been happening. Meaning, it wouldn’t be anything new, exciting, interesting, or fun because it would be just as normal to us as the sky being blue and water being wet.

This World would be Nuts!

a dog and a cat together

But, if it were possible, and genetics didn’t have any say about who’s going to be breeding with who, it only makes sense that this wouldn’t stop with dogs and cats, right? All other animals out there would be able to do the same thing if they felt so inclined.

By now, different kinds of animals would be inter-mixed all over the place. Some wouldn’t survive, but in this scenario, the ones that did would most likely change the way the food chain works, that’s for sure.

Different Kinds of Hybrids

lion and tiger

Whenever different species of animal breed, what we wind up with is called a “hybrid.” There are all kinds of examples of this happening around the world.

The most famous account of hybrid cats would be the Liger and the Tigon.

  • A Tigon is a cross between a male tiger and a female lion.
  • A Liger is a cross between a male lion and a female tiger.

These hybrid species can be achieved naturally in the wild (should the two breeds ever meet in the wild), in captivity, or artificially. These hybrids share two distinct features that differ from their parents.

Though there have been few exceptions, they both wind up being sterile, which prevents these hybrids from promulgating a new species. The second thing they have in common is that they are absent from the hormone that controls and stops growth.

They can grow to enormous proportions, sometimes over double the weight of their largest parent. There is one liger on record to have weighed over one metric ton!

grizzly and polar bears

Other hybrids out there that have successfully hit the scene. There are accounts out of Canada and Alaska of a hybrid bear of a grizzly and polar bear. Elsewhere you’ll find donkeys, horses, or mules mixed with zebras. In the sea, there are wholphins- killer whales mixed with dolphins. Another is the beefalo- half American buffalo, half domestic cattle.

Be they artificial creations or those that happened by accident by sharing wildlife pens at the zoo or wildlife parks, hybrid species are out there. However, as has been stated several times toward the beginning of this article, they are products of animals that are of the same type.

Final Thoughts

genetics illustration

Genetics- the stuff that helps control what’s out there lurking about, keeps everything organized, and the buzz-kill of those of us with an overactive imagination. Ultimately, the barrier which is the reason why cats and dogs can’t breed.

Though it’s a fun thought to chew on, overall, we should be glad that cats are only cats, and dogs are only dogs. The differences between these two animals cater to our desire to be with one over the other.

Cat people can be happy with their cats, dog people with their dogs and the rest of us can have fun with both.

So, can dogs and cats breed?