Nyctereutes procyonoides has the appearance of a small fox-like canid with the fur markings similar to those of raccoons (Procyon lotor). They have small heads (greatest length 133 mm) with pointed, low-profile rostra. The dental formula is i 3/3, c 1/1, p 4/4, m 2 or 3/3, total 42 or 44. Raccoon dogs have reduced carnassials and relatively large molars. Height ranges from 38.1 to 50.8 cm. Length from head to rump is 50 to 68 cm with a tail length of 13 to 25 cm. Legs are short, and overall the body is stocky. Body weight ranges from 4 to 6 kg in the summer to 6 to 10 kg in the winter before hibernation. On average, individuals in Europe tend to be larger than those in China and Japan. The existence of several subspecies of N. procyonoides may account for this discrepancy. Mass of adult females in China and Japan is 0.5kg greater than males.
The fur of N. procyonoides is dense and soft. Markings on the head include a white muzzle, white face, and black fur surrounding the eyes. A black marking runs across both shoulders and down the back, forming the shape of a cross. Ears are rounded and short; black hair one the ears trims the white hair inside. Body color is dusky brown to yellow-brown dorsally but varies greatly. Long guard hairs, found throughout the dorsal side, are tipped black. On the belly, the fur is lighter brown or tan. Limbs and chest are blackish-brown. Raccoon dogs have thick, bushy tails that are black dorsally and light-yellow ventrally with a black tip. Winter pelage is thicker and darker than summer pelage.
Nyctereutes procyonoides goes through a molt in the summer between July and October. The winter pelage grows in during September, October, and November. Raccoon dogs also have a spring molt that begins in April when the underfur is shed. The summer coat is in by mid-June.
Range mass: 4 to 10 kg.
Range length: 50 to 68 cm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: female larger