Raccoon dog

Written by Nicklas Iversen | Last edited 9. June 2021

The raccoon dog, which is a member of the dog family, is not actually native to Norway, but has nevertheless become part of our fauna.

Racoon dog facts

Latin: Nyctereutes procyonoides.
Family: Dog family (Canidae). 
Length: 70 – 80 cm (tail included). 
Weight: 5 – 10 kg. 
Breeding season: February to April. 
Number of young: Normally 6 – 10. 
Lifespan: Normally 3 – 5 years. 

Racoon dog tracks

Raccoon dog tracks are like typical dog tracks with four toes in a symmetrical arrangement. There are usually clear claw marks. The paw prints are 4.0 – 5.5 cm in size, while the stride length is short at 40 – 60 cm.


On first seeing a raccoon dog, many people think it looks like a raccoon, and they are not entirely wrong. Like the raccoon, the raccoon dog has a white nose and a black patch across its eyes, but it is far from having the raccoon’s distinctive burglar mask.

In terms of size, the raccoon dog is on a par with the red fox, but has much shorter legs. Its fur is longish, dense and soft.

It is also worth mentioning that the raccoon dog is a very good swimmer and likes to live in thick scrub or areas with a great deal of vegetation. That makes it difficult to spot, which is one of the reasons why there is so much uncertainty regarding its distribution here in Norway.


The raccoon dog is originally from Asia, but has also been released in large parts of Russia. Over time, this has resulted in it migrating to Finland, Sweden and Norway, and now there is probably a stable population in our country.

But the raccoon dog is regarded as a real problem species that is unwanted in Norway because it is very good at eating bird eggs, small game and anything else it finds. It probably has a very negative impact in areas where it settles, and the authorities have therefore gone as far as to offer rewards for sighting or shooting raccoon dogs.

Despite the authorities wanting to be rid of it, it continues to live here and has become part of the Norwegian wild whether we like it or not.


The raccoon dog eats virtually anything it can fit in its mouth. It mainly eats the carcasses of other dead animals, but it’s diet also includes bird eggs, small mammals, amphibians, birds, insects and lagomorphs, as well as some plant materials.

It definitely prefers meat, so it eats plant material only if nothing else is available.

The raccoon dog has shown itself to be very good at eating the eggs of birds that nest on the ground, and in some areas the authorities are worried that the raccoon dog may destroy the entire nest population of certain bird species. As a few raccoon dogs can be enough to wipe out a bird population, it is important to control where they are.


The raccoon dog is probably able to thrive across much of Norway, but prefers areas with some wetlands. It is therefore often found in forests close to marshes, in river valleys, along the shore and in other areas where there is wetness and moisture. Bird eggs, amphibians and small animals that live near the water are easy to find there.

No one knows with certainty exactly where in Norway the raccoon dog is actually found. It has been observed and shot on a number of occasions in the far north of the country, but it is also suspected that the species can live further south. There are, however, too few sightings of the species for anyone to be sure quite where it lives or in what numbers.


Young raccoon dogs become sexually mature at just nine to eleven months of age, at which point they will go out into the world to look for a partner. Once they have found a partner, they are like the wolf and mate for life, and will be able to have a lot of pups in their four or five years of life.

The female can become pregnant every February to April, and gives birth to about six to ten pups roughly two months after fertilisation, although litters of as many as nineteen young have been recorded! The more food is available to the raccoon dog family, the larger the litters and the more pups survive.

Both parents help to look after and rear the pups, but around half will still die in their first months of life. It is not until they are four or five months old that they can survive on their own, and they will then leave their parents to start to look for a separate area where they can live and hopefully find a partner.


There is a lot of good information on the raccoon dog and we can recommend the following sources for further reading:

Disse har også fungerte som kilder for vår informasjonsside om mårhund. 

This article has been written by Nicklas Iversen, a former nature guide for Visitor Centre Carnivore Flå.