Paternal care has never been reported as absent in any canid species, and some form of care has been seen in 18 of the 36 species in the family. Food provisioning, active defense of the young, and protecting young by remaining at the den as the female forages appear to be the commonest forms of male care. In addition males may groom, retrieve, play and rest with young. Male canids are rarely involved in den selection or construction. The effect on the fitness of the young of indirect forms of male care such as provisioning the female and territory defense are hard to assess. Quantitative studies of male provisioning in seven species offer few generalizations. In two species (Canis aureus, C mesomelas) females provided more food to the young than males; in one species (Alopex lagopus) the pair contributed equally to feeding young, and in four species (Canis lupus, Vulpes vulpes, Chrysocyon brachyurus, and Lycaon pictus), males provided more food than females. Much more data are required, particularly from field studies, before patterns of variation can be interpreted.

Author notes

1From the Symposium on Paternal Behavior presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Society of Zoologists, 27–30 December 1983, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.