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Can You Keep a Jackal as a Pet? Legality, Ethics & FAQ

Jeff Weishaupt

By Jeff Weishaupt

Jackal Dog

You’ve probably seen a jackal once or twice on television, but these wild animals are most commonly found in woodland and savanna areas. However, you might have been lucky enough to spot a few in person, depending on where you live. Most would describe their appearance as cunning and sharp, but alert ears, stout noses, and mischievous smiles are also some distinctive features of jackals.

As an animal lover, you may have considered what a jackal as a pet would be like. Unfortunately, they are considered exotic and dangerous. So, is it even legal to keep jackals as a pet? In most places, the answer is no. In fact, nobody should really be keeping these animals as pets regardless of the legality of it.

Divider 2Can You Keep a Jackal as a Pet?

No, you cannot keep a jackal as a pet. Not only do these animals make terrible pets, but they’re also nearly impossible to domesticate. Their appearance may be similar to a friendly dog’s, but their temperament is quite the opposite.

While most countries and states have made keeping a jackal as a pet illegal, others will require you to get a license first. Acquiring such a license is lengthy, expensive, and nearly impossible if you don’t own a zoo.

Jackal Dog
Image by: WildMedia, Shutterstock

Reasons Jackals Should Not be Kept as Pets


Since jackals are members of the dog family, it’s easy to assume that you can give them a regular pet dog diet consisting of dry kibble and the occasional meaty treat. However, the natural diets of these animals differ drastically from those of pet dogs.

These canines prefer an all-meat diet consisting of whole animals, such as rats and rabbits. Occasionally, they will eat some veggies, such as bulbs and beets.

Outdoor Space

Most domesticated dogs need around an hour of outdoor exercise, making it easier for pet owners to take care of their needs. That’s not the case with jackals since they’re supposed to spend the majority of the day outdoors.

These animals are not made for a sedentary indoor lifestyle, which will become clear once they begin destroying your furniture. Even a large garden is not enough to accommodate the free-willed nature of a jackal.

Since these animals love to dig, your hard-earned garden and its contents will soon suffer as well. If they need to escape, they won’t let fences come in the way and dig their way out from under the fence.

The dynamic nature of jackals makes them run around to forage and hunt for the majority of the day. A small habitat will quickly bore them and lead to destructive and hostile behavior.

Jackal Dog
Image by: Ondrej Prosicky, Shutterstock

Human Interaction

When observing jackals, their social behavior will surprise you. These monogamous animals prefer spending their time with a conspecific, often mating for life. They also communicate with other jackals or wild animals surprisingly well.

Unfortunately, this friendly behavior does not extend to humans, which are typically feared by jackals and most other wild animals. Unlike domesticated dogs and cats, it’s not easy to make jackals trust you enough to live inside your home.


Although they are part of the dog family, jackals aren’t domesticated. Many people confuse this term with taming, which is possible in the case of this animal but not recommended.

You may be able to tame jackals, but unlike dogs, they have not been selectively bred over centuries to accommodate the human lifestyle. As a result, dogs are the ideal companions for humans today, but jackals are not.

jackal lying on the grass
Image by: Rosy, Pixabay

Veterinary Care

If you find a legal way to keep a jackal as a pet, it will likely need veterinary care at least once in its life. In that case, you’ll be disappointed to find that most vets are not qualified to treat jackals.

That’s mainly due to the scarcity of this animal as a pet and the risks involved with treating a pet that may be illegally owned. As a result, most vets tend to avoid treating exotic animals at all.

divider 9Is It Legal to Own a Jackal?

In most cases, it is illegal to own a jackal. But that answer may vary depending on where you live. While most countries prohibit the ownership of exotic animals, others have a lengthy and expensive licensing process.

Here are the laws surrounding jackal ownership in the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia:

United States

Most states in the US consider it illegal to keep jackals as pets, as they may fall under the state, country, or city’s wild animal, dangerous animal, or exotic pet laws. Some cities allow the ownership of exotic pets, so you may be able to own a jackal, but it’s not recommended.

Only four American states have no restrictions against owning a jackal as a pet, including Wisconsin, North Carolina, Nevada, and Alabama. In other states, you’ll need to acquire specific licenses and permits.

However, the local government of your city or town may overrule these laws and ban the ownership of exotic animals entirely. It’s crucial to check local laws before state laws to check if you can own a jackal in your city.

Jackal Dog
Image by: Robert Henry Hurn, Shutterstock


It’s possible to own a jackal as a pet in Canada, but that may vary depending on your city. While there is no exact information available on whether you can own a jackal, you may find laws that prohibit or allow the ownership of wild animals or exotic pets.

You’ll need to study the local wild animal regulations, but it’s most likely that your city’s government deems it illegal to own a jackal. Additionally, the country has banned the import and export of animals, which means you cannot purchase a trained jackal from overseas.

United Kingdom

You can own a jackal as a pet in the UK with the correct licenses, permits, and inspection. However, officials in the UK strictly discourage the ownership of exotic and wild animals.

While owning a jackal is not illegal nationwide, your city’s local laws may override that allowance and make it illegal in your area. Before you consider owning a jackal, check your local laws to ensure their legal status.

jackals walking in the wild
Image by: nadia Clarence, Pixabay


Australia does not allow the import and export of animals in the country. As a result, owning a jackal is illegal in Australia since the animal is not native to the country.

If you own a zoo, you’ll need extensive permits and licenses to export a wild, non-native animal into the country. These documents are not easy to require, requiring a lot of money and time to obtain them.

divider 9Are Jackals Easily Domesticated?

No, jackals are not easily domesticated. You may be able to tame them by introducing yourself early and opting for the suitable training method, but it’s strictly discouraged by officials. Not only are they illegal to own, but they’re also impossible to keep in standard human living environments.

These animals prioritize their freedom and space above all, so they’ll quickly destroy your home once they feel restricted. The average pet owner does not have the facilities and accommodations to own a pet jackal.

Divider 7In Conclusion

We’ve all considered owning a wild animal, such as a jackal, at least once in our lives. They look adorable and perhaps even easy to train from afar, but that’s not the reality.

These dogs are nearly impossible to domesticate, illegal to own, and terrible pets. Although some states may allow their ownership, experts recommend against keeping them as pets.

Featured Image Credit: Zuzana Gabrielova, Shutterstock

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