Silver Fox

Friendly foxes don’t have the level of adrenaline they formerly had – a byproduct of surviving in the wild. And a strong correlation between adrenaline and melanin was later discovered that explained the color of their coat. In other words, tame foxes are no longer producing as much adrenaline as their wild forebears, making them the friendliest foxes in the world.

That cuddly little fox you’ve always wanted as a pet is no longer out of reach. A new version of the silver fox has been introduced as tame enough to enter our homes.

The silver fox is a melanistic variation of the red fox. Silver foxes have darker pigmentation such as the fox shown above. Their coats vary from being completely black with a white tip on the tail to a bluish-gray coat. The dark coat of the silver fox is usually held in much higher esteem by the fur coat industry even in comparison to the most flawless beaver or otter coats. The darker the pelt, the more valuable it becomes. Historically, such a demand for this particular coat eventually arose that the production needed to be sustained through the farming of the silver fox.

Tame foxes began to appear in the 1950s in Siberia when fox farmers asked Russian scientist Dimitri Belyaev if he could help to breed a not so aggressive animal. Given the opportunity, Belyaev set himself on domesticating the silver fox by using selective breeding to hereditarily change fox aggression. Thereafter, by breeding only the tamest foxes Belyaev came upon a new breed of fox.

As early as the tenth generation of breeding, friendlier foxes began to show characteristics unusual in the wild Siberian fox. Characteristics such as the curling of tails, floppy ears and even barking arose. Breeding the tamest foxes together led to variations in their genetic make-up never before seen in a wild population of this particular animal.

It was surprising enough that the floppy ears and waggly tails emerged in a wild population of foxes, but what was most unusual was the variation in the coat. Suddenly, the silver fox coat that held such a dark pigmentation was no longer dark. And what made it so strange was that the variation should not have occurred. This idiosyncrasy led scientists to look elsewhere for an explanation.

Many times, selective breeding gave rise to a white or mixed coat color such as that displayed by the fox above. This raised a lot of questions, all of which pointed to their adrenaline levels. Generation after generation of breeding had an effect on the adrenal glands, which explained their behavioral and physiological changes.

Friendly foxes don’t have the level of adrenaline they formerly had – a byproduct of surviving in the wild. And a strong correlation between adrenaline and melanin was later discovered that explained the color of their coat. In other words, tame foxes are no longer producing as much adrenaline as their wild forebears, making them the friendliest foxes in the world.

American company SibFox Inc. is a private company operating as a conduit that connects North America with silver foxes from Siberia. Selectively breeding the Siberian fox proved successful for Belyaev. It seems like quite a step from farming these foxes for their lovely fur to domesticating them for their precious company. And as we appreciate the tameness of a lovable wolf – the first domesticated animal, your dog – we can now appreciate that unmistakable friendship with a fox. Tame foxes have the energy and companionship of a dog while displaying the independence of a cat. 

  • Mmafvg

    so are we taming them to breed them for their fur and kill them and wear them?????

  • Quinnrm26

    Are you kidding me, ive been looking these up for years, and i had just given up hope of getting one, MAJOR SLAP IN THE FACE

  • Bob

    But by doing so they kept an innumerable amounts of foxes is little tiny cages their whole lives until they got the genes ‘right’, or at least how humans wanted them. I saw documentaries on this and it was really sad. At first the foxes were very aggressive for numerous generations, so they never took them out of a 3 x 3 cage except to breed.

  • Tabithiabradley

    I find this really sad, getting wild animals and domesticating them by cross breeding just so we can keep them as pets!
    Say what you will, but to me it looks like a new kind of puppy farming with foxes.

  • Anonymous

    You just saved me the effort of my usual scrawling, as did the piece by Bob. One must remember: When dogs were “brought into the pix” so to speak, the world was far less aware of the effects of their actions on the world, and even now in spite of said awareness, we are still pathetically slow in accepting responsibility for our actions when there is money to be made or when it is simply inconvenient. “Selective Awareness” one might call it? Oh Lord… there I go again.

  • Anonymous

    Local Pound, “Pet Protectors” or special adoptive agencies for slightly exotic but wonderful pets that can no longer be returned to the wild, but aren’t wanted as they turned out to still be a little too… wild? These present many options from the basic to the exotic, the affordable to the overpriced. Go affordable and donate the other several hundred or thousand to said establishments, and kill the play/extra-money, rather than the unwanted or painfully parted-with pets in the community!! This whole thing is an exercise in gross egocentricity, one of the least attractive yet most dominant traits of humanity, quite particularly in -although not obsolete to, mind you – all of western society. (That’s not just the US specifically, although we seem to wallow in it rather shamelessly, and with an unabashed and pathetically flawed conscious application of self righteousness!)

  • Betalynn3

    actually foxes were some of the first domesticated animals… they used to be buried next to their owners when they died.

  • Nightsforgoteenchild

    The scientist Dimitri Belyaev was asked to make them nicer. The last i knew it was still going on. the foxes are well taken care of. i don’t know if they use them for coats. but i know they are playful and they do bark.

    I am in school for animal care and i have watched many videos on the breeding and care of those foxes.

  • Cunningx2

    These are wild animals and should be left as such. Mankind has more domesticated canines than we know what to do with. Think of all the unwanted/abused animals awaiting euthanasia/adoption. PLEASE DO NOT ADD TO THE MISERY!

  • windy

    Great post! I’ve been wondering lately – why it seems like everybody has been looking in the same places for the inspiration and you give answers. Thank you for the insight!chnlove review

  • Bruce

    I see Peta spammed this page

  • Pingback: The 5 Coolest Pets Humanity Has Bred into Existence |

  • Lucky Duck

    Where do you think dogs or cats came from? Where any of your pets have come from? Each animal that we call a part of our family has come from some wild ancestor that they have been slowly domesticated. There is nothing new here.

  • AnimalWhisperer

    If foxes are domesticated and become pets then their owners will fall in love with them and fox farming could become something that is frowned upon by many people. So this coud save a lot of foxes’ lives.

  • Molly

    Fox farms hoped to find tamer foxes that are easier to handle. Before they “harvest” their fur they do have to interact with them for rudimentary care like feeding and cleaning. They would prefer an animal that didn’t fight and didn’t resist.


    I think it’s really freaking cool. I always wanted a fox. I have some wild ones in the woods behind my backyard. They’re awesome.

  • skeleton423

    Yes finally a friendly fox species, I for one can’t wait to get one