African Wild Dog

African Wild Dog

(Lycaon pictus)

African Wild Dog MarkingsAfrican Wild Dog Markings

Their markings are unique to each individual, like fingerprints, and help the pack identify each other.

African Wild Dog Statistics

Body length: 75-100cm, Tail length: 30-40cm, Standing height: 61-78cm, Weight: 17-36kg.

African Wild Dog Physical Description

Wild dogs have a dark brown coat, which is mottled with brown, black and yellow patches. Each individual has unique markings, rather like fingerprints in humans. The markings may help the dogs to blend in with the pack, so that prey species can not determine how many dogs are in the pack.

They have long legs, and a short, powerful muzzle.

African Wild Dog Distribution

African Wild DogWild dogs live in Africa, south of the Sahara to South Africa, except for the rainforest of West and Central Africa. They have been lost from much of their original range.

African Wild Dog Habitat

Their preferred habitat is savannah, plains, swamps, semi desert and mountains of up to 3,000m.

African Wild Dog Diet

African wild dogs are exclusively carnivorous. They feed on gazelle, impala, zebra, wildebeest, hares, rodents and other small animals. They hunt by stalking the prey until they are close enough to risk a fast chase. Unfortunately for the prey, the kill is not usually quick. When the dogs are close enough, they will bite at the prey, sometimes disembowelling it, until it finally dies from its injuries.

African Wild Dog Behavior

African Wild DogNowadays, wild dogs typically live in packs of up to 10 individuals, although in the past up to 30 was the norm, and pack sizes of up to 100 dogs occasionally occurred. There is a high degree of social co-operation and interaction between the individuals, and they communicate using calls and body postures. They roam over large areas in search of prey, and undergo a meeting ceremony before the hunt.

There is usually a dominant male and female pair within the pack. The females are related to each other and the males are related to each other, but the females are not related to the males.

The whole pack care for the pups and will feed any without mothers. Pups are the first in the pack to feed at a kill, eating even before the dominant pair.

African Wild Dog Reproduction

It is usually just the dominant female that breeds, although depending on the size of the pack, two or three other females may sometimes also breed. The female gives birth to 2-16 (usually seven) young after a gestation period of 69-72 days.

All the members of the pack help to look after the pups, regurgitating food when they are weaned and babysitting. They are weaned after three months, and start to join the rest of the pack on hunts after six months. A pack with fewer than four members will rarely breed.

African Wild Dog Conservation Status

Wild dogs are classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List and there are roughly only about 4,000 worldwide. They are persecuted by man, run over by cars, and are susceptible to domestic dog diseases such as canine distemper. They are also suffering from loss of habitat.