World’s First Dog-Fox Hybrid Dies Under Mysterious Circumstances

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic
Hans Wagemaker/Shutterstock

The death of the first-ever confirmed dog-fox hybrid in Brazil is under government investigation. The São Braz Conservation Center, which took care of this unique hybrid species since its discovery in 2021, failed to notify the officials about the animal’s death. 

To make matters even stranger, the exact time and cause of the hybrid’s death are still unknown. 

The unusual creature, named “dogxim” was discovered after being hit by a car in 2021 and taken to the hospital in Rio Grande do Sul. Veterinarians treating the animals were puzzled by its appearance as they couldn’t figure out if the young female was a fox or a dog. 

Scientists conducted a series of tests to determine the animal’s genetic makeup. Their findings, published in the journal Animals, showed that the animal is a hybrid between a domestic dog of an unknown breed and a pampas fox, native to South America. 

Scientists noted that “dogxim” exhibited an unusual mix of fox and dog traits. The hybrid looked like a medium-sized dog with large, pointy ears, a black nose, and a long, thin snout. She had brown eyes and a thick, black-brown fur. 

Researchers were also surprised to discover that “dogxim” refused to eat dog food but accepted live rodents. Although it moved like a fox, the hybrid barked like a dog and sometimes enjoyed playing with dog toys.

She was an amazing animal, really a hybrid between a pampas fox and a dog,” said Flávia Ferrari, a conservationist who worked with the hybrid during its recovery. Ferrari described the hybrid as less aggressive than a wild canid but not as docile as a domestic dog. 

She had a shy and cautious personality, generally preferring to stay away from people. Over the time she was hospitalized for treatment, I believe she started to feel safer.” 

When the scientists who studied and cared for the fox-dog hybrid asked for recent photographs of the animal in August, they were notified that the creature had died six months ago. 

Dr. Rafael Kretschmer, a cytogeneticist at the Universidade Federal de Pelotas who did the genetic analysis that showed the animal’s hybrid nature, told the Telegraph: “We are very sad about her death, especially because we do not have the answers about the exact date and the cause of her death.”

“We only discovered that she died because I called Mantenedouro São Braz to request some recent photos of the hybrid. They informed me that she died approximately six months ago. They didn’t answer me about the exact date and cause of her death,” he added.

Flávia Ferrari who studied the hybrid before it was transferred to the São Braz Conservation Center, added: “When she left she was healthy, there were no indications of any health problems. Health check-ups were carried out periodically, including blood tests.”

As far as scientists are aware, no autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death.

The Secretariat of Environment and Infrastructure (SEMA) investigates the death of a hybrid between wild graxaim and domestic dog, the target of scientific research which, since 2021, was under the care of the Mantenedouro de Fauna Silvestre São Braz, in Santa Maria, an enterprise registered and authorized by the state,” the spokesman for the Brazilian government told the Telegraph. 

SEMA is investigating the circumstances of the animal’s death and informs that in the reports sent periodically by the entrepreneur, there was no communication to this department about the animal’s death.”

The young female "dogxim" was the first ever recorded case of a fox and dog breeding in the world, and the hybrid was of unmeasurable significance to science. 

Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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