Animal Diaries Archive
What's the Difference?
25 May 2007
Anyone who has dealt closely with dingoes or foxes in any way wouldn't be likely to confuse one for the other, or for any other species. However, they are both very shy and elusive animals, and visiting a zoo is the only way a lot of people would ever have the opportunity to encounter them… and so, it is actually a rather common occurrence here at Australia Zoo that, seeing one of our dingoes out on a walk, one of our guests might question whether it is in fact a dingo or a fox!
When you think about it, there are many superficial similarities between these two canine species. While both dingoes and foxes have coat colours that can range from black to creamy white, typically they are both rusty ginger. They both have large, pricked-up ears and slender pointed muzzles, as well as beautiful long bushy tails with very characteristic white tips. But that's about where the similarities end!
If you were to stand a dingo and a fox side-by-side, you would instantly be aware of the size difference between the two. While many people do expect both animals to be larger than they actually are, foxes are quite obviously dwarfed by dingoes. There are also more subtle differences in build, with the fox's hind legs being longer than its forelegs, and with a much longer tail (proportionally), allowing it to be far more agile and nimble than the dingo, and indeed more so than any typical canine. The red fox's eyes are also very catlike, having vertically slitted pupils as opposed to the round pupils of the dingoes, as well as being exceptionally light-reflective (all the better to see at night!). The most obvious difference however is in their colouring, because though they both have white tail-tips, the dingo keeps up the theme by having white on its paws, and white on the muzzle and under the chest, while the fox's legs and paws always darken to black, along with darkening on their ears and black 'smudges' either side of their muzzle.
You'd have to have a lot of luck on your side to spot a fox or a dingo out in the wild, but if you've never seen either before and plan to head over to the zoo to find them, hopefully you'll be armed with the knowledge to pick them out on sight!Barbara