Why Fennec Foxes Are the World’s Smallest Wild Dogs

The third installment of the three-part PBS nature series Dogs In the Wild focuses on the fennec fox, a member of the canid family (genus: vulpine) and known to be the smallest wild canine in the world. The episode also talks about how the fennec fox is ideally suited to their native home in the Sahara Desert, due to their sand-colored coats, enormous ears, and ability to go a long time without water.

Small bodies don’t need much, and by being omnivorous, fennecs can find enough to eat. Insects, berries, roots, every scrap is on the menu. There may be food, but there’s no water. Thankfully, her kidneys are so efficient, she’s the one dog that doesn’t need to drink. She can get all the water she needs from the food she eats, even the tiniest spider.

The fennec fox has been around for millions of years without any issues.

The fennec evolved as the desert first appeared, 4 million years ago. No other canid can so completely endure the challenges here. So this smallest of wild dogs is not only built for this harsh desert, she’s the only one to have tamed it.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.