Are Red Pandas Related to Dogs? (Similarities & Differences)

The red panda’s appearance may seem similar to puppies. The similarity in looks may make you wonder if red pandas relate to dogs.

Here’s what I found out – 

No, red pandas and dogs are not closely related. Despite having several similarities, these two animals belong to different families.

Interestingly, red pandas may relate closely with animals like raccoons and skunks.

Several factors make dogs and red pandas relate closely. Despite being similar, these animals are different. Let’s find out more about red pandas and dogs below.

Table of Contents

Going further:

Dogs and Red Pandas (Differences)

Below are the main differences between dogs and red pandas:

Red PandaDog
Biological Family and NamingAilurus fulgensCanis lupus familiaris
Place of OriginSocializationEastern HimalayasSiberia
Natural AppearanceReddish brownBlack, brown, white, red
Body SizeSmallLarge
Sleeping Behavior17 hours per day14 hours per day

Biological Family and Naming

Red pandas belong to the family Ailuridae while dogs belong to the Canidae. Red pandas have many names.

Some other words for red pandas include red bear cat, firefox, lesser panda, and red cat-bear. The dog names may only change when different breeds come.

Place of Origin

Red pandas originate from the eastern part of the Himalayas. On the other hand, different dog breeds originate from all sides.

Natural Habitat

Red pandas spend most of their time on top of trees. Most dogs can’t climb, thus spending all their time on the ground.


two dogs running together

Most dogs love spending their time with other dogs making interactions. On the other hand, red pandas are solitary animals and do not spend time with each other.

Red pandas also mark their territories using their urine. Dogs do not keep regions and can live with each other anywhere, at any time.


Red pandas have a special diet that mainly consists of bamboo. Dogs do not feed on bamboo; their main diet mostly consists of meaty products.

Natural Appearance

Red pandas have a single physical appearance. In other words, there is only one breed of red pandas. Dogs, on the other side, have several species, meaning they can come in various shapes and sizes.

Different kinds of dogs have many types of colors of fur. Red pandas have only one color, which involves reddish-brown hair.

Body Size

Most dogs are larger, especially after growing into adults. Red pandas are smaller, on the other hand. Even adult red pandas never grow past ten pounds (4.5 kilograms).


Red pandas have special semi-retractable claws. These special claws help when it comes to moving on surfaces. Dogs do not have semi-retractable claws, making them quite different from red pandas.


The process of domesticating dogs is straight and simple. Domesticating a red panda, on the other side, is difficult. In other words, red pandas are extremely wild animals, while dogs are fully domestic.

Sleeping Behavior

Dogs are more active than red pandas. During the day, red pandas can spend up to 17 hours sleeping. Dogs sleep for very few hours during the day. If dogs need to sleep, it’s only for a short time.

Dogs and Red Pandas (Similarities)

Several similarities represent the relationship between red pandas and dogs. Below are some of the major similarities between red pandas and dogs:

Feeding Behavior

Even though red pandas mainly feed on bamboo, they are also carnivores. Dogs are also carnivores, which makes them similar to red pandas.

a dog eating


Dogs and red pandas have an attractive appearance, bringing people close to them.
These two animals are also mammals, and they both have furry coats covering their whole bodies.

Red pandas and dogs have four legs and one tail which is a very common similarity between them. 

Intelligence and Nature

Dogs and red pandas are playful. These two animals are also highly intelligent and capable of learning tricks. Their main communication occurs using different sounds, making these two animals similar.

Dog Breeds that Look Like Red Pandas

Several breeds of dogs have the same appearance as the red pandas. Below are some of these dogs:

Tibetan Mastiff

Most Tibetan Mastiffs are reddish brown. Red pandas have reddish-brown fur as well.

a Tibetan Mastiff breed

The common fur color between the Tibetan Mastiff and the red panda makes them quite familiar.

The Maltese Poodle

This poodle is a hybrid of the toy poodle and the Maltese dog. The final result is a small dog resembling the red panda.

The Maltese poodle is furry and has a low level of shedding fur. The low shedding and hairy nature give this dog features like the red panda.

The Chow Chow

This dog breed originates from Asia, just like the red panda. Most of these dogs are brown or reddish-brown.

a Chow Chow breed

This fur color gives the dog a similar physical resemblance to the red pandas.

Some Chow Chows may have a single reddish color on their fur. Other Chow Chows have a blend of red and brown or different colors.

Bichon Frise

The Bichon Frise is a small dog breed. Being small, this dog is quite similar to the red panda.

These dogs are also playful, just like most red pandas. Most Bichon Frise dogs are cream or white. With a little color change on the fur, you may surely mistake this dog for a red panda.

The Labradors

a Labrador dog sleeping

These retriever dogs are quite similar to red pandas. These dogs are mostly yellow, chocolate, and black in their primary colors.

This dog has quite a different color from the red panda. However, little grooming and dying of the fur may bring you something familiar to red pandas.

Final Thoughts

Red pandas and dogs have a very close relationship. These two animals are mammals, one of the main factors that make the two animals similar.

Other similarities like body shape, color, and behavior make dogs and red pandas more familiar.

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You may also check the 13 key similarities and differences between red pandas and lemurs.