It’s probably important to differentiate between mating and reproducing. Any animal can mate with another animal, it’s the reproducing part that’s limited.
As far as the initial dog question goes, there really is no question because there’s no difference between dogs of different breeds. Puppies from parents of different breeds wouldn’t be one breed or the other, they would just be dogs and I doubt that they would ever be so big in the womb so as to pose a danger to the mother. Maybe, but even if they were big they wouldn’t be too big to be thrown. I think nature would prevent this in some way. Maybe not, but I doubt it.
I haven’t taken biology since junior high, but I think that one factor that affects reproduction is the number of chromosomes. Dogs and wolves have the same number, and are similar enough genetically, that they can have offspring. Each parent provides 1 chromosone to each pair - if the parents have different numbers of pairs, then there’s no match and the reproductive cells are incomplete. I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but I think that’s how it works.
So, dogs and wolves are close enough genetically to have an equal number of chromosomes, 39. I don’t know if they’re technically the same species, but their offspring are fertile.
The simple answer is that cats have 19 pairs and dogs have 39 pairs. But I’ve been thinking about this and have more questions.
Now Donkeys (31 pairs) and Horses (32 pairs) can produce mules. I don’t understand why, exactly, in light of the theory postulated above. And furthermore, mules are almost always sterile because they have an extra chromosome. Can someone explain how mules are possible? And I also think (not sure) that the mother must be a horse. Why is that?
The answer is likely to be that Donkeys and Horses are so similar genetically, and their chromosome pairs so similar, that they can reproduce. But that gets me thinking about humans.
Chimps and Humans are only 1.5% different from one another, and like horses and donkeys, there is only one extra pair of chromosomes (humans 23, chimps 24). Why can’t humans reproduce with chimps like a horse and a donkey? I think it’s clearly a taboo subject in society, but scientifically, is it possible?