Coyote Size: The Fascinating Factors that Affect a Coyote’s Growth and Development

Coyotes are medium-sized canines found all over the US. While they generally grow between 20-45 pounds, each individual’s size varies widely, depending on gender and social status.

But how significant are the differences between the male and female coyotes, and how does social status affect how big they are? Floofmania gets into it!

Slender looking, tall coyote standing on a dirt road.

How Big Are Coyotes?

Coyotes are built to run and are, therefore, on the leaner side compared to other animals. 

The average full-grown coyote is roughly 4 feet (48 inches) long, including its 12-15 inch tail. They are usually just under 2 feet (21-24 inches) tall at shoulder height and weigh between 20-45 pounds.

Meanwhile, their paws measure approximately 2.5 to 3 inches long and 2 inches wide in the front, with back paws slightly smaller at 2 inches long and 1.5 inches wide.

For easier visualization, simply picture a medium-sized dog!

How Big Is A Juvenile Coyote?

Coyote pups are tiny. Newborns typically tip the scale between 8 to 10 ounces (half a pound). However, they don’t stay little for long. 

At six months, coyotes have their complete set of permanent teeth. They then begin hunting with the pack and eating more protein, allowing them to grow bigger and stronger faster.

Generally, they reach their full size at 12 months, but sometimes can be adult-sized by as early as nine months old.

Juvenile coyote lying on a rock.

Are Coyote Males Bigger Than Females?

Female coyotes tend to be smaller than their male counterparts.

Females stand at around 21-22 inches tall, two or three shorter than average male coyotes. They also often weigh less than male coyotes by 10-15 pounds unless they are an alpha female.

What Are Alpha Coyotes, And Why Are They Bigger?

Coyotes live in packs which are almost always their family. They are led by their parents, or the alpha pair who, aside from reproducing, are responsible for ensuring everyone’s safety.

The other members of the pack, or the “betas,” are either the alpha pair’s young offspring or other adults who have simply joined in. Packs rarely grow bigger than a group of six coyotes.

Alphas are almost always bigger than betas because, aside from being older, full-fledged adults, they are the priority pair and are given the most food. This isn’t true all the time, though: there are incredibly healthy packs that boast large alpha and beta members!

Coyotes that live alone tend to be malnourished and weigh significantly less than coyotes in a group.

What’s The Largest A Coyote Can Get?

Large male coyotes can grow 3.5-4.5 feet long and weigh up to 45 pounds. It is very rare to find coyotes larger than that.

However, the largest recorded coyote was just under 5 feet long, and weighed 75 pounds! It was spotted in Afton, Wyoming.

Coyote moving through brown grass, looking sneaky.

How Big Are Coyotes Compared To Other Animals?

Coyotes are medium-sized predators, situated right in the middle of the food chain. 

They regularly hunt and eat small animals like rabbits, chickens, and smaller livestock, causing many farmers and homeowners to consider them major pests.

On the flip side, they also have to deal with their own predators, including mountain lions, wolves, and bears. This is one reason they live and travel in packs: for safety. But if confronted alone and given a choice, a coyote will always choose to run from a threat instead of fight. 

Coyotes can easily be mistaken for other animals because of their “average” size and body shape. Still, the differences become apparent when they stand next to each other. 

Here is a quick comparison of coyotes and a few similar species, from biggest to smallest.

CoyotesWolvesDogs (Medium sized)JackalsRed Foxes
Shoulder HeightJust under 2 feet (21-24 inches)2-3 feet (26 to 32 inches)Just under 2 feet (21-24 inches)1.5 feet tall1-1.5 feet (14 to 16 inches)
Length (including tail)4 feet (48 inches)3-5 feet 2-3 feet (28 to 36 inches)3 feetRoughly 2 feet (22-26 inches)
Weight20-45 pounds50-110 pounds20-60 pounds 15–24 pounds10-15 pounds
Paw Size2.5 to 3 inches longUp to 5 inches longUp to 3 inches long2-2.5 inches long1.5 inches long

How Big Are Coyotes Compared To Wolves?

Wolves are noticeably larger than coyotes from birth, and the size difference continues throughout their lives.

The average fully-grown wolf found in the United States weighs anywhere between 50-110 pounds with a shoulder height of 2-3 feet (26 to 32 inches), making it both taller and heavier than a fully-grown coyote.

Meanwhile, a wolf’s paw will get up to 5 inches long, including nails, while coyotes’ typically only grow up to 3 inches long.

Gray wolf standing in a forest clearing.
Wolves are bigger than coyotes.

How Big Are Coyotes Compared To Pet Dogs?

Coyotes fit neatly into the category of medium-sized dogs, which are dogs between 20-60 pounds. 

Depending on the coyote’s gender and age, the overlap of breeds of the same size can range anywhere from a Corgi to a Border Collie. 

The following domesticated dog breeds are the roughly same size as coyotes:

  • Border Collie
  • Corgi
  • Spanish Water Dog
  • Blue Heeler
  • Welsh Springer Spaniel
  • Australian Shepherd
  • Spinone Italiano
  • Samoyed
  • Pointer
  • Brittany Spaniel
  • English Cocker Spaniel 
  • Dalmatian

How Big Are Coyotes Compared To Jackals?

Jackals and coyotes look so similar some have speculated that they are actually the same animal. In particular, coyotes look almost identical to the golden jackal.

As plausible as it is, this suspicion isn’t true: jackals and coyotes are definitely two different species of two varying sizes. Jackals tend to be shorter and weigh less than an average coyote.

However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find these close cousins standing next to each other: Jackals can be found in Africa and Asia, while coyotes live in North and Central America. 

Golden jackal walking on green grass.
Jackals are a little smaller than coyotes, but live on different continents!

How Big Are Coyotes Compared To Red Foxes?

Coyotes are roughly twice as big as red foxes. Red foxes weigh around 3-15 pounds and coyotes double or triple this amount at 20-45 pounds. 

This difference shows up in their paw print sizes, too: An average fox’s paw print is 1.5 inches long, including nails, while those of a coyote are usually about 3 inches long.

Author: Bernice Go

Bernice Go is a violinist and orchestra manager by profession but a writer by hobby. She enjoys writing about various topics, from music to animals to self-development. When she isn’t playing the violin or writing, she loves reading, traveling, playing video games, and savoring a good cup of coffee.