Why do dogs like chasing foxes? Reason Explained

The age-old scene of a dog chasing after a fox is a familiar sight in both rural and urban areas. While domestic dogs have come a long way from their wild ancestors, this innate instinct for chasing foxes remains deeply ingrained in their behavior. 

In this article, we will explore the fascinating reasons behind why dogs have an inclination for pursuing these cunning creatures and how this behavior is rooted in their evolutionary history. 

Additionally, we’ll delve into the role of genetics and how selective breeding has influenced this behavior over time. So, let’s embark on a journey to uncover the secrets of why dogs chase foxes.

The Hunter’s Instinct: A Throwback to Ancestral Roots

To comprehend the reasons behind dogs’ love for chasing foxes, it’s crucial to delve into their evolutionary past. 

Dogs are descendants of wolves, which were skilled predators with exceptional hunting instincts. 

The act of chasing, capturing, and bringing down prey was vital for their survival. As dogs evolved from wolves to become man’s loyal companions, many of these ancestral instincts remained intact. 

Chasing after small, fast-moving creatures like foxes taps into the natural predator within dogs.

The Thrill of the Chase: The Appeal of Moving Prey

Foxes, with their agile and nimble movements, trigger a strong response in dogs. The chase activates the dog’s natural instincts and satisfies their desire for physical activity and mental stimulation. 

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In domestic settings, where dogs might not have the opportunity to hunt for survival, chasing a fox-like creature serves as an exciting outlet for their pent-up energy.

Playful Pursuit: Chasing as a Form of Play

Play is a crucial aspect of a dog’s life, especially during their early developmental stages. Puppies engage in playful chasing with their littermates, honing their coordination and hunting skills. 

As they grow older, this playful behavior is redirected towards toys, balls, and, at times, even their human companions. When a dog chases a fox, it can also be seen as an extension of this play behavior.

The Scent Trail: Following the Fox’s Fragrance

Dogs possess a highly developed sense of smell, with up to 300 million olfactory receptors in their noses. 

Foxes, like many wild animals, leave a scent trail through their urine and feces, marking their territory and communicating with other foxes. 

When dogs catch a whiff of this distinct scent, their curiosity and natural instincts are piqued, triggering the chase response.

Social Facilitation: Chasing as a Group Activity

Dogs are social animals, and they often live in packs. When a group of dogs witnesses one of their pack members engaging in a chase, they are likely to join in. 

This phenomenon is known as social facilitation. It illustrates how the presence of other dogs can enhance and encourage their prey-chasing behavior, leading to a group pursuit of a fox.

Selective Breeding: Influencing the Chase Instinct

Selective breeding by humans has played a significant role in shaping dogs’ behavior, including their propensity for chasing foxes. 

Throughout history, humans have bred certain dog breeds for specific purposes, such as hunting or herding. 

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Dogs with a strong chase instinct were favored for hunting tasks, and those genes were passed down through generations, intensifying the inclination to pursue fast-moving prey like foxes.

Controlling the Chase: Training and Obedience

While chasing foxes might be a natural instinct for dogs, responsible pet owners should prioritize proper training and obedience to ensure the safety of their dogs and other animals. 

Training can help redirect the chase instinct and teach dogs to respond to commands even in the presence of tempting distractions like foxes.


In conclusion, the natural instinct of dogs to chase foxes can be traced back to their ancestral roots as skilled hunters. 

This innate behavior provides them with mental stimulation, physical exercise, and a way to express their playful nature. 

The scent of foxes, the influence of group dynamics, and the effects of selective breeding all contribute to the continuation of this age-old chase. 

Through responsible training and understanding their instincts, we can ensure that dogs enjoy a balanced and safe life while embracing their natural inclinations.