To gain insight into the genetic relationships among six canine coronavirus (CCV) strains, the variable region of the spike (S) protein gene was sequenced. The CCV strains were: two ATCC reference strains, the Insavc-1 vaccine strain, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories (Ames, IA) challenge strain, and two California field isolates (UCD-1 and UCD-2) from the 1970s. All six strains, downstream of the nucleocapsid (N) protein gene, had sufficient size for an ORF 7b, and thus, none were transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV)-like since TGEV lacks ORF 7b. By sequence analysis of the variable domain at the 5′ end of the S gene, five of the six CCV strains had a high degree of identity with feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV). However, one CCV field isolate (UCD-1) was different and had a high degree of identity with the 5′ end of the TGEV S gene. This suggests that RNA recombination occurred at this site between antigenically related coronaviruses. The low passage field isolates, UCD-1 and UCD-2, varied in their initial infectivity for swine testicular cells suggesting that sequence differences in the variable domain of the S gene may account for biological variation among CCVs.