The coyote Canis latrans is one of the seven representatives of the Canidae family found in Canada. Other members of the family are the wolf, red fox, arctic fox, grey fox, swift fox, and dog

Slimmer and smaller than the wolf, the male coyote weighs from 9 to 23 kg, has an overall length of 120 to 150 cm (including a 30- to 40-cm tail), and stands 58 to 66 cm high at the shoulder. The female is usually four-fifths as large.

The coyote’s ears are wide, pointed, and erect. It has a tapering muzzle and a black nose. Unlike most dogs, the top of the muzzle on coyotes forms an almost continuous line with the forehead. The yellow, slightly slanting eyes, with their black round pupils, give the coyote a characteristic expression of cunning. The canine, or pointed, teeth are remarkably long and can inflict serious wounds. The neck is well furred and looks oversized for the body. The long tongue often hangs down between the teeth; the coyote regulates its body temperature by panting.

The paw, more elongated than that of a dog of the same size, has four toes with nonretractable claws. The forepaws show a rudimentary thumb, reduced to a claw, located high on the inner side. The claws are not used in attack or defence; they are typically blunted from constant contact with the ground and do not leave deep marks.

The fur is generally a tawny grey, darker on the hind part of the back where the black-tipped hair becomes wavy. Legs, paws, muzzle, and the back of the ears are more yellowish in colour; the throat, belly, and the insides of the ears are whiter. The tail, darker on top and lighter on the underside, is lightly fawn-coloured towards the tip, which is black.

The coyote’s fur is long and soft and well suited to protect it from the cold. Because it is light-coloured in winter and dark in summer, it blends well with the seasonal surroundings.

Like all Canidae, the coyote has, at the root of the tail, a gland that releases a scent. Such glands also exist on other parts of the body. Scent glands often become more active when the animals meet. The coyote’s urine has a very strong smell and is used to mark out its territory. Trappers use the secretions when they set traps to attract the coyote.