A new study published earlier this month rocks the world of mammal biology with the finding that all foxes are actually just misunderstood dogs.
The study compared DNA and behavior between 30 dogs and 30 foxes, concluding that foxes were in fact dogs, but were just kind of weird sometimes.
“I’m glad that my work has helped to overturn such a harmful stigma,” said Robert Burgess, the biologist who oversaw the study. “Millions of animals have been labeled as ‘wild’ and ‘feral’ and ‘foxes’ when in fact they’re just a bit odd, you know, when they’re around big groups, or even small groups, or no groups.”
The consensus among biologists before now was that foxes were the result of an evil scientist’s experiment to combine a cat and a dog, but most biologists have been swayed by the new findings.
“I really believed the old theory for the longest time,” said Peter McGovern, a Swedish scientist who reviewed the study, “but measurements of the amount of floof and trainability really showed that we’ve been mistaking some dogs for foxes this whole time.”
One biologist who has been a longtime proponent of the dogness of foxes is Stacey Landing, a researcher in Boise, Idaho. She has long argued that the dog species encompasses much more than people generally think.
“Dogs are really a species with several spectrums of traits. Look at the difference between a German Shepherd and a Chihuahua, for example. They were quite different on the physical spectrum, but very similar psychologically. Foxes are mostly different on the psychological spectrum. Foxes being dogs really shows the importance of appreciating neurodiversity in all species.”
Chief among those who applaud the findings are those who have been keeping foxes as pets, particularly those who have faced persecution because of it.
“We’re so happy to finally have confirmation about this,” said a teary-eyed Bonnie Jackson, who owns a pet fox with her husband. “We’ve always known deep down in our hearts that he’s just a dog who poops everywhere and kills the neighbor’s cats sometimes, but it can be hard to tell people that. Now I can point to this study and say, ‘see?!’ It’s so heart-warming.”