Nyctereutes procyonoides 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Carnivora Canidae

Scientific Name: Nyctereutes procyonoides
Species Authority: (Gray, 1834)
Common Name(s):
English Raccoon Dog
French Chien viverrin
Spanish Perro Mapache
Canis procyonoides Gray, 1834
Taxonomic Notes: There are six recognized subspecies: albus, koreensis, orestes, procyonoides, ussuriensis and viverrinus. It has been suggested recently that Japanese Raccoon Dogs should be classified as a distinct species Nyctereutes viverrinus with two subspecies N. v. viverrinus and N. v. albus (Sang-In et al. 2015). The classification is based on chromosomal, molecular and morphological differences between Japanese and mainland populations (see also Kauhala and Saeki 2004a).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2016
Date Assessed: 2016-03-01
Assessor(s): Kauhala, K. & Saeki, M.
Reviewer(s): Hoffmann, M. & Sillero-Zubiri, C.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Hoffmann, M. & Thresher, S.
The Raccoon Dog has been widely introduced outside of its historic native range, and is now widespread, and common, in northern, central and eastern Europe, and is still spreading towards the west and south (Kauhala and Kowalczyk 2011). It is also common in its native range in East Asian countries. Although subject to some possible localized declines, there is no evidence to suggest that the species is at any risk of extinction, and is listed as Least Concern.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The native range of this species extends from northern Indochina (ranging as far south as north-eastern Viet Nam, east of the Red River, and southern Yunnan province in China) through the eastern provinces of China and the Korean Peninsula to the south-east corner of Russia and Mongolia. In the Japanese Archipelago, the species is present throughout Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, Kyushu, Awaji island, Sado island and other islets of Japan except those south of Kyushu (e.g., Okinawa islands, Nansei islands, Miyako islands and Ogasawara islands). Introduced to Yakushima island (S. Azuma, in Kauhala and Saeki 2004b). Absent from Hainan and Taiwan, Province of China. 

The species was introduced in the early to mid-part of the 20th Century to European parts of the former Soviet Union and since then the species has become widespread in northern and eastern Europe, thriving in a landscape which is a mosaic of moist forests with abundant undergrowth, damp meadows and gardens (Kauhala et al. 2010). The northern limit of distribution lies in areas where the mean temperature of the year is just above 0°C, the snow cover <800 mm, the duration of the snow cover <175 days and the length of the growing season >135 days (for example, in Finland the northern limit of permanent distribution is between 65°N and the Arctic Circle). In recent years, when winters have become milder, the Raccoon Dog has expanded its range northwards (in Finland, up to 67°N). Raccoon Dogs appear to have been expanding their range in recent times, including a record in 2002 from the central part of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (at the time the southernmost point of its European range; Ćirović 2006) and a road-kill in south-eastern Spain in 2008 (Kauhala and Kowalczyk 2011). The latter authors provide a detailed review of the history of colonization of the Raccoon Dog in Europe.
Countries occurrence:
China; Japan; Korea, Democratic People's Republic of; Korea, Republic of; Mongolia; Russian Federation (Amur, Central European Russia - Introduced, Chita, East European Russia - Introduced, Khabarovsk, North European Russia - Introduced, Northwest European Russia - Introduced, Primoryi, South European Russia - Introduced); Viet Nam
Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Moldova; Netherlands; Norway; Poland; Romania; Serbia (Serbia); Slovakia; Slovenia; Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine
Present - origin uncertain:
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Outside of Japan, where the species is common, there is no information on abundance in their native range. Lau et al. (2010) noted that in China they probably still exist in the wild in parts of Guangxi and Guangdong, but are otherwise likely to be threatened. Population estimates have never been conducted in Japan, but indirect indices (e.g., road-kills per km of the National Express-ways and harvest density per prefecture), suggest that relative abundance is high in south-western parts of Japan (i.e., Kyushu, Shikoku, and Chugoku) and low in Hokkaido, Chubu, and extremely urban areas (Kauhala and Saeki 2004b; and see Table 5.4.2 therein). In Viet Nam, the southerly extent of their range, there is very little information available on their status. A survey undertaken in 2004 in five areas in Na Hang District, Tuyen Quang Province, recorded two captive young animals in Na Vang village after apparently having been taken from a small cave (presumably a den) in Lung Nhoi area (Le Trong Trai et al. 2004), but there is otherwise no other recent information.

The species is common in the introduced range; for example, in Finland the adult population consists of 110,000-120,000 individuals (hunting bag 160,000-170,000 individuals each year). The autumn population, including the young of the year would be about 320,000.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Two features are typical of the habitat of Raccoon Dogs: 1) they are often found near water; and 2) during autumn they are more or less dependent on fruits and berries, which affect their habitat selection. In Japan, their habitat includes deciduous forests, broad-leaved evergreen forests, mixed forests, farmlands, and urban areas from coastal to subalpine zones. In the countryside, the species prefers herbaceous habitat and uses less Cryptomeria plantation throughout year, while riparian areas are often used (Kauhala and Saeki 2004b). In urban areas, Raccoon Dogs inhabit areas with as little as 5% forest cover (Yamamoto et al. 1995). In the Russian Far East, the Raccoon Dog favours open landscape, especially damp meadows and agricultural land and avoids dark forests (Judin 1977).

In the introduced range, Raccoon Dogs favour moist meadows and other habitats with abundant undergrowth, mixed forests and shores of rivers and lakes, especially in early summer (Korneev 1954, Nasimovic and Isakov 1985, Kauhala 1996). In late summer and autumn, they favour moist heaths with abundant berries (Morozov 1947, Kauhala 1996). However, in the Finnish archipelago, they live in barren pine forests where they feed on crowberries (Empetrum nigrum) (Kauhala and Auniola 2000). In Finland, generally the best landscape for Raccoon Dogs is a landscape with abundant undergrowth, a mosaic of moist forests, damp meadows, gardens and agricultural area (Kauhala and Auttila 2010, Kauhala et al. 2010). The population is sparse in large coniferous forests.
Generation Length (years):3

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The Russians introduced Raccoon Dogs into the wild in the European part of the former Soviet Union because they wanted to establish a valuable new fur animal in the wild. Raccoon Dog furs continue to be commercially sold, although today they are produced in fur farms. While the species is still commonly farmed for fur in Finland (albeit less intensively than 20-30 years ago), Raccoon Dogs are no longer farmed in Sweden or Hungary, where the last fur farm was closed in 1995. In Japan, Raccoon Dog fur is also used in the production of calligraphic brushes, stuffed animals, and other products. Today, Raccoon Dogs are mainly hunted because they are considered pests. In Japan, legal culling increased from the 1970s to 15,176 animals in 2012. However, the numbers harvested has declined from a peak of 76,000 in 1981. In China, about 15 million Raccoon Dogs were held by fur farmers in 2010, and China is the largest producer and exporter of Raccoon Dog fur in the world (Petry and Liting 2010). In Finland, the yearly hunting bag for 2013 was about 160,000 animals (Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute 2014). In Poland, where Raccoon Dogs are hunted from August to March, the annual bag was 450–600 in the early 1990s, but more than 11,000 are now hunted annually (Kauhala and Kowalczyk 2011). In Germany, 30,000 Raccoon Dogs were hunted in the hunting season of 2008/2009 (Anon., in Kauhala and Kowalczyk 2011).

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Raccoon Dogs are still persecuted across much of their native range as a pest species. They also may be affected locally by predation from feral dogs, road kills, and from epidemics (including scabies and canine distemper virus), and in some cases may be declining due to extreme habitat loss. The Raccoon Dog is an important vector and victim of rabies in Europe, with increasing significance towards the east and north.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Legislation
Not listed in the CITES Appendices.

In many countries in the introduced part of their range, where the Raccoon Dog is legally hunted, hunting is permitted year round (e.g., Sweden, Hungary). However, in Finland, females with pups are protected in May, June and July, and in Belarus hunting is allowed from 1 October to the end of February. In Japan, hunting/trapping of the species requires a licence or other form of permission and can only occur within the designated hunting season (November 15 to February 15). The Raccoon Dog on Mukojima island (18.4 km²), Hiroshima prefecture, is designated as a natural monument under the Law for the Protection of Cultural Properties, and permission from the Director-General of the Agency of Cultural Affairs is required for capturing the animals on the island.

Presence in protected areas
Raccoon Dogs occur in national parks and other wildlife protection areas in Japan, where hunting and some other activities are prohibited. Elsewhere across their range, they occur in numerous protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries.

Presence in captivity
In Japan, around 40 zoos hold captive animals and successful breeding has been reported (e.g., Kobe Municipal Zoo). Captive animals still exist on fur farms in some countries (e.g., Finland and China).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:No
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.1. Artificial/Terrestrial - Arable Land
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability:Suitable  major importance:No
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:No
  Systematic monitoring scheme:No
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:No
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Area based regional management plan:No
  Invasive species control or prevention:Not Applicable
In-Place Species Management
  Harvest management plan:Yes
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:No
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
  Subject to recent education and awareness programmes:No
  Included in international legislation:No
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:No
4. Transportation & service corridors -> 4.1. Roads & railroads
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.3. Persecution/control
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.2. Problematic native species/diseases -> 8.2.2. Named species [ Sarcoptes scabiei ]
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive and other problematic species, genes & diseases -> 8.5. Viral/prion-induced diseases -> 8.5.2. Named species
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Minority (<50%) ♦ severity:No decline ⇒ Impact score:Low Impact: 4 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy
1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.3. Life history & ecology

Bibliography [top]

Baillie, J. and Groombridge, B. (comps and eds). 1996. 1996 IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Ćirović, D. 2006. First record of the raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides Gray, 1834) in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. European Journal of Wildlife Research 52: 136–137.

Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute. 2014. Hunting 2013. Riista- and kalatalous – Tilastoja 6/2014. Official Statistics of Finland – Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery. 36 s.

IUCN. 2016. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016-1. Available at: (Accessed: 30 June 2016).

Judin, V. G. 1977. Enotovidnaja sobakaPrimor'ja v Priamur'ja. Nauka, Moscow, Russia.

Kauhala, K. 1994. The Raccoon Dog: a succesful Canid. Canid News 2: 37-40.

Kauhala, K. 1996. Habitat use of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides) in southern Finland. Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde 61: 269-275.

Kauhala, K. and Auniola, M. 2000. Diet of raccoon dogs in summer in the Finnish archipelago. Ecography 24: 151-156.

Kauhala, K. and Kowalczyk, R. 2011. Invasion of the raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides in Europe: History of colonization, features behind its success, and threats to native fauna. Current Zoology 57: 584-598.

Kauhala, K. and Saeki, M. 2004. Finnish and Japanese raccoon dogs - on the road to speciation? In: Macdonald, D. W. & Sillero-Zubiri, C. (ed.), Biology and Conservation of Wild Canids, pp. 217-226. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Kauhala, K. and Saeki, M. 2004. Raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides (Gray, 1834). In: Sillero-Zubiri, C., Hoffmann, M. and Macdonald, D.W. (eds), Canids: Foxes, Wolves, Jackals and Dogs. Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan, pp. 136-142. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Kauhala, K. & Auttila, M. 2010. Habitat preferences of the native badger and the invasive raccoon dog in southern Finland. Acta Theriologica 55: 231-240.

Kauhala, K., Schregel, J. & Auttila, M. 2010. Habitat impact on raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides home range size in southern Finland. Acta Theriologica 55: 371-380.

Kim, S.-I., Oshida, T., Lee, H., Min, M.-I. and Kimura, J. 2015. Evolutionary and biogeographical implications of variation in skull morphology of raccoon dogs (Nyctereutes procyonoides, Mammalia: Carnivora). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 116: 856–872.

Korneev, A. I. 1954. Enotovidnaja sobaka Nyctereutes procyonoides Gray na Ukraine (rezul'taty rabot po akklimatixacii) [in Russian]. Trudy Zoologiceskogo Muzea Kievskaia Universiteta Imeni T. G. Sevcenko 4.

Lau, M.W.N., Fellowes, J.R. and Chan, B.P.L. 2010. Carnivores (Mammalia: Carnivora) in South China: a status review with notes on the commercial trade. Mammal Review 42: 247–292.

Le Trong Trai, Le Manh Hung, Ha Van Tue, Trinh Viet Cuong, Nguyen Truong Son, Pham Duc Tien and Bui Xuan Phuong. 2004. Biodiversity Surveys of the Proposed Francois’ Langur Species and Habitat Conservation Area, Tuyen Quang Province. PARC Project, Na Hang/Ba Be Component, Hanoi.

Morozov, V. F. 1947. Akklimatizacija ussurijskogo enota (Nyctereutes procyonoides Gray) v Leningradskoj i Novgorodskoj oblastjah. Tr. VNII ohotnic'ego promysla 8: 11-124.

Nasimovich, A. and Isakov, Y. (eds). 1985. Arctic fox, red fox and raccoon dog: distribution of resources, ecology, use and conservation. Janka, Moscow, USSR.

Petry, M. and Liting, B. 2010. Fur Animals and Products: Peoples Republic of China. GAIN Report, CH10031, USDA Foreign Agricultural Service.

Yamamoto, Y., A. Kinosita and H. Higashimoto. 1995. Distribution and habitat selection of the raccoon dog Nyctereutes procyonoides viverrinus in Kawasaki city. Bulletin of the Kawasaki Municipal Science Museum for Youth 6: 83-88.

Citation: Kauhala, K. & Saeki, M. 2016. Nyctereutes procyonoides. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T14925A85658776. . Downloaded on 21 October 2016.
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