Not much is known about the mating behavior of N. procyonoides. Studies have shown that raccoon dogs form mating pairs from year to year, and monogamy among pairs has been reported in raccoon dogs found in Finland. In regions of home-range overlap, pairs do not interact. Polygamy has been reported in captive individuals.
During mating, females are courted by 3 to 4 males. There is little fighting among males for mates. In captivity, both scent marking and male-female interaction increased during proestrus. Pair bonds form before copulation and remain until after offspring have become independent. An inverted U-shaped tail posture in males is associated sexual arousal and expresses dominance. After pairs mate and the female gives birth, males and females spend a significant amount of time together raising the pups.
Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous
Females come into heat once a year, after hibernation. Data from raccoon dogs in captivity show that estrus lasts from 3 to 5 days. Copulation occurs at the end of the cold part of winter in January, February, or March, depending on geographic location. Copulation ties are an average of 6 minutes. Gestation period ranges from 59 to 64 days. Nyctereutes procyonoides usually gives birth in dense vegetation or in burrows that have been abandoned by foxes or badgers. Average litter size is 5 to 7, with the highest of 19 pups reported. Pups are born blind and have soft, black fur. Weight ranges from 60 to 115 g at birth depending on subspecies. Between the 9th and 10th day, pups' eyes open and teeth are visible by 14 to 16 days. Mothers wean their pups between 30 to 40 days of age. At this time, the typical face mask and the guard hairs are fully developed. Mass and size increase in a linear fashion until 50 to 60 days. Offspring are the size of small adults at 80 to 85 days of age. The offspring will reach sexual maturity at 9 to 11 months.
Breeding interval: Nyctereutes procyonoides breeds only once per year.
Breeding season: Mating in raccoon dogs occurs in January, February or March and coincides with early spring.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 19.
Average number of offspring: 6.33.
Range gestation period: 59 to 64 days.
Average gestation period: 61 days.
Range weaning age: 30 to 70 days.
Range time to independence: 4 to 5 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 9 to 11 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 9 to 11 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); fertilization ; viviparous
Average birth mass: 75 g.
Average number of offspring: 6.
During late pregnancy, a female’s mate brings her food. After she gives birth, the male also has a role in postnatal care. The young are weaned at 30 to 40 days; the male typically watches over them while the female hunts for food. The male may also hunt while the female watches the young. At 4 months, the pups begin learning how to hunt by watching their parents. In a short time, they are self-supporting although they may remain with their parents, and hunt as a family, until the fall. At that point, they are independent. Between 9 to 11 months the offspring will have reached sexual maturity.
Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Male, Protecting: Male); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); post-independence association with parents
- Kauhala, K., E. Helle, K. Taskinen. 1993. Home range of the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in southern Finland. Journal of Zoology, 231: 95-106.
- Sheldon, J. 1992. Wild Dogs : The Natural History of the Nondomestic Canidae . San Diego: Academic Press.
- Ward, O., D. Wurster-Hill. 1990. Mammalian Species: Nyctereutes procyonoides . The American Society of Mammalogists, No. 358: 1-5. Accessed February 02, 2004 at http://www.science.smith.edu/departments/Biology/VHAYSSEN/msi/.