Jackals are members of the Canidae family. They prefer to live in open habitats, and they’ll hunt during the evening.1 There have been three jackal species formally recognized:

  • Black-Backed Jackals
  • Side-Striped Jackals
  • Golden Jackals2

However, scientists have determined that golden jackals are actually made up of two different species. Originally it was thought that there were African Golden Jackals and Eurasian Golden Jackals, and they were the same animal but lived in different regions. However, scientists have looked at the genetics of the African Golden Jackal and have determined that although the two species look very similar, they’re actually different.2

It turns out that the African Golden Jackals are related to gray wolves and are actually closer relatives to them than they are the Eurasian Golden Jackals. This is odd because there aren’t any gray wolves in Africa. However, the data shows that these golden jackals in Africa and Eurasia have been distinct from one another for over a million years.3

Meanwhile, African Golden Jackals split from wolves over a million years ago, while Eurasian Golden Jackals split from wolves over half a million years before that. What’s interesting is the fact that the African Golden Jackal and the Eurasian Golden Jackal look so similar. The theory behind this is that it’s the result of parallel evolution, which is when a common trait appears in two species that are distantly related through a common ancestor.2

This evidence and this distance between the two animals call for recognition of the distinction between the two as the African Golden Wolf and the Eurasian Golden Jackal.3

Read about how Black-Blacked Jackals are also similar to wolves on our blog.



  1. https://www.britannica.com/animal/jackal
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/grrlscientist/2015/jul/30/golden-jackal-a-new-wolf-species-hiding-in-plain-sight
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215007873