Can a Raccoon Dog Be a Pet?

Can a Raccoon Dog Be a Pet

I was just thinking of an interesting topic to write about on today’s Pawsitive Tips, and as usual, I put up my browser and went on Google Trend to see the trending searches and topics regarding dogs. Surprisingly, raccoon dogs are insanely popular and trending in the United States.

The reason for this is something I don’t really know, but some questions I saw there struck my imagination: “Can a raccoon dog be a pet?”, “Do raccoon dogs bark?”, “Are raccoon dogs aggressive?”. These and many more questions are among what many people are searching for. So, based on what I gathered from experts in the field, I will be providing answers to these queries. But before then, let’s look at an overview of raccoon dogs, their behavior, and their diet.

What are raccoon dogs?

Raccoon dogs, scientifically referred to as Nyctereutes procyonoides or commonly known as tanukis, are canids of small to medium size that naturally inhabit East Asia. Despite their name, raccoon dogs are not actually related to raccoons; they belong to the Canidae family and are more closely related to foxes and domestic dogs. They are distinctive animals with unique physical characteristics and behavioral traits.


Raccoon dogs

Raccoon dogs have a similar appearance to raccoons, which is where their common name originates. They have a stocky build, short legs, and a long, bushy tail. Their fur is thick and dense, typically consisting of a combination of grays, browns, and blacks. The face of a raccoon dog has a distinct mask-like pattern around the eyes, giving it a resemblance to a raccoon. They also have rounded ears and short, sturdy muzzles.

Where do raccoon dogs live?

Raccoon dogs are primarily found in East Asia, including countries such as China, Japan, Korea, and parts of Russia. They inhabit various habitats, including forests, woodlands, grasslands, and farmlands. They are adaptable animals and can thrive in both rural and urban areas.


Raccoon dogs are predominantly crepuscular or nocturnal, meaning they are most active during twilight hours and nighttime. They are generally solitary animals, although they may form small family groups during the breeding season. Raccoon dogs are known for being excellent climbers and swimmers, utilizing their agile bodies and partially webbed paws to navigate through various environments. They are also skilled diggers and create burrows or dens for shelter.


As omnivores, raccoon dogs have a diverse diet. They primarily feed on small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, birds, insects, and their larvae. Additionally, they consume fruits, berries, nuts, and plant matter. Their opportunistic nature allows them to adapt their diet to the available food sources in their habitat.

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The breeding season for raccoon dogs typically occurs in the late winter or early spring. During this time, male raccoon dogs may engage in territorial displays to attract females. After mating, the female gives birth to a litter of 4 to 10 pups after a gestation period of approximately two months. The pups are born blind and helpless, relying on their mother for nourishment and protection. They reach sexual maturity at around 8 to 10 months or even a year of age.

Conservation status and human interaction

Raccoon dogs are not considered endangered species globally, but their status varies across different regions. In some areas, they are hunted for their fur, which is used in the production of clothing and accessories. Habitat loss and fragmentation due to urbanization and agriculture pose additional threats to their populations. In certain regions, raccoon dogs are also considered invasive species because they have been introduced outside their native range.

Can a raccoon dog be a pet?

Since we looked at the general overview of raccoon dogs, let’s get down to the questions of the day. So, do raccoon dogs make good pets?

No, raccoon dogs do not make good pets. Although they may seem intriguing and adorable, it is generally not recommended to keep them as pets. Raccoon dogs are wild animals with specific needs and behaviors that are challenging to meet in a domestic setting. Here are a few reasons why raccoon dogs are not suitable as pets:

  1. Legal restrictions: In many jurisdictions, like the United States, it is illegal to own raccoon dogs as pets due to concerns about their impact on local ecosystems and the potential risks they pose to public health.
  2. Complex needs: Raccoon dogs have unique dietary and environmental requirements that are difficult to replicate in a home. They are omnivorous and need a varied diet that includes live prey, fruits, and vegetation. Meeting these dietary needs can be challenging and costly.
  3. Behavior and socialization: Raccoon dogs are solitary animals in the wild and may exhibit aggressive behaviors when kept in captivity. They have specific instincts and natural behaviors that cannot be easily suppressed or altered through domestication.
  4. Enclosure requirements: Raccoon dogs are skilled climbers and diggers. They need large and secure enclosures with plenty of space for exercise, as well as the opportunity to engage in natural behaviors such as burrowing and climbing.
  5. Long lifespan and commitment: Raccoon dogs have a relatively long lifespan, typically living up to 10–15 years in captivity. Keeping them as pets requires a significant long-term commitment in terms of time, effort, and resources.
  6. Conservation concerns: Raccoon dogs are sometimes hunted for their fur and are also considered invasive species in some regions where they have been introduced outside their natural habitat. Keeping them as pets may contribute to the illegal wildlife trade or cause potential ecological disruptions.

Please, it is important to respect the natural needs and behaviors of raccoon dogs and allow them to thrive in their native environments rather than attempting to keep them as pets. Instead, consider supporting conservation efforts and promoting responsible ownership of domesticated animals that are suitable for companionship.

Do raccoon dogs bark?

No, raccoon dogs do not bark like domestic dogs. While they are capable of producing vocalizations, including growls, whines, and howls, their vocal repertoire does not include a typical dog bark. Raccoon dogs are known for making high-pitched vocalizations that can sound more like a scream or yelp than a bark.

Are raccoon dogs aggressive?

Raccoon dogs can display aggression in certain situations, especially if they feel threatened or cornered. However, it is important to note that raccoon dogs are generally shy and prefer to avoid human interactions. They are not inherently aggressive towards humans or other animals unless they perceive a threat or are provoked. Like any wild animal, it is crucial to respect their space and not approach or attempt to handle them, as this can trigger defensive behaviors. If encountered in the wild or in captivity, it is advisable to observe them from a safe distance and allow them to maintain their natural behaviors.

How much is a racoon dog?

The price of a raccoon dog can vary significantly depending on various factors such as location, legality of ownership, availability, and whether it is captive-bred or wild-caught. However, it is important to note that in many countries, like here in the United States, owning a raccoon dog as a pet is illegal due to conservation concerns and potential risks to public health. Therefore, it is not recommended to seek out raccoon dogs for sale or purchase them as pets.

As a Pawsitive Tips reader, I personally urge you to respect wildlife and support conservation efforts in the United States rather than engaging in the trade of exotic animals.

Can I own a raccoon dog in the UK?

Now, to our UK readers: can you own a raccoon dog in the United Kingdom? Is it legal to have it as a pet? The answer is NO! It is illegal to own a raccoon dog as a pet in the United Kingdom (UK). The UK government’s Dangerous Wild Animals Act (1976) prohibits the keeping of certain exotic species as pets, including raccoon dogs. This legislation aims to ensure the welfare of both animals and the general public, as raccoon dogs have specific needs that are difficult to meet in a domestic environment. It is important to abide by the laws and regulations of your country regarding wildlife and pet ownership to promote the well-being of both animals and humans.

Are raccoons more like dogs or cats?

Raccoons are more closely related to bears and dogs than they are to cats. While raccoons share some similarities with cats, such as their agility and climbing abilities, their genetic and physiological characteristics align them more with canids, which include dogs, wolves, and foxes. Raccoons belong to the Procyonidae family, which includes other species such as coatis and kinkajous. Their behavior, anatomy, and evolutionary history make them more similar to dogs than cats.

Final thoughts

In conclusion, I strongly advise against owning a raccoon dog as a pet in the UK and US. It is illegal in both countries due to concerns about their impact on ecosystems and public safety. Think about your kids as well. Raccoon dogs aren’t friendly with kids, so why risk it?

Apart from this, they have complex needs that are difficult to meet in a domestic setting, and their natural behaviors may lead to welfare issues. So, avoid them as pets; rather, go for dogs or cats.

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