Differences Between the Jackals and Coyotes
By Claire Miles - April 5, 2023

Coyotes resemble jackals, particularly the golden jackal. They’re almost the same size as golden jackals, from which they only split approximately 800,000 years ago. Thus they’re related. In actuality, the genetic difference is just around 4%. However, despite their similar appearances, jackals and coyotes are two different creatures from different areas of the world.

Chart Summary
  1. Mainly found in sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia
Mainly found in North and Central America
  1. Solitary or paired living behavior. They are semi-social animals. 
They have a strictly hierarchical living behavior. They are highly gregarious animals

Getty images/Moment/ David C Stephens


Jackals are canines that are related to wolves, foxes, coyotes, and dogs. They appear to be a cross between a fox and a German shepherd. They resemble a cross between a German shepherd with long, discerning ears and a fox with a tiny face, delicate legs, and a fluffy tail. While traditionally referring to a variety of small canids, the name “jackal” is now most frequently used to describe three species: the highly associated black-backed jackal, side-striped jackal, and golden jackal from south-central Eurasia.

The coyote (Canis latrans) is a North American canine species. It is slightly smaller than its near relative, the wolf, and the closely related eastern wolf and red wolf. It occupies a similar ecological niche as the golden jackal in Eurasia. A behavioral ecologist once referred to the coyote as the American jackal because it is bigger and more predatory. The species has also been known as the prairie wolf and the brush wolf.

Jackals vs. Coyotes

Jackals are to Africa and Asia; Coyotes are to North and Central America. Jackals usually live alone, in couples or groups, and Coyotes are usually group animals with a strict social structure. A jackal may weigh up to 26 pounds and stand around 16 inches tall, roughly 2.5 feet. Coyotes are larger, weighing up to 45 pounds, reaching over 3 feet in length, and standing up to 26 inches tall. The paws of a jackal and a coyote are similar in form and size, although coyotes have broader paws than jackals.