African Wild Dog

(Lycaon pictus) the African wild dog.

It is also known as, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf.

This is the largest African canid and, behind only the grey wolf, is the world’s second largest extant wild canid. Adults typically weigh 18–36 kilograms (40–79 lb.). A tall, lean animal, it stands about 75 cm (30 in) at the shoulder, with a head and body length of 75–141 cm (30–56 in) plus a tail of 30 to 45 cm (12 to 18 in).

The African wild dog may reproduce at any time of year, although mating peaks between March and June during the second half of the rainy season. Litters can contain 2-19 pups, though 10 is the most common. Weaning takes place at about 10 weeks. After 3 months, the pups leave the den and begin to run with the pack.

Females will disperse from their birth pack at 14–30 months of age and join other packs that lack sexually mature females. Males typically do not leave the pack in which they were born.

In a typical pack, males outnumber females by a factor of two to one, and only the dominant female can usually rear pups. This situation may have evolved to ensure that packs do not over-extend themselves by attempting to rear too many litters at the same time. The species is also unusual in that some members of the pack, including males, may be left to guard the pups while the others, including the mothers, join the hunting group.

The African wild dog hunts in packs and small groups. Like most members of the dog family, it is a running hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all wild dog hunts end in a kill; for comparison, the success rate of lions, often viewed as ultimate predators, is only 30%.

After a successful hunt, the hunters will regurgitate meat for those that remained at the den during the hunt including the dominant female, the pups, the sick or injured, the old and infirm, and those who stayed back to guard the pups.

There were once approximately 500,000 African wild dogs in 39 countries, and packs of 100 or more were not uncommon. Now there are only about 3,000-5,500 in fewer than 25 countries. They have been decimated by stock farmers who believe they are vermin. In South Africa very few are found outside of protected areas…

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35 thoughts on “African Wild Dog

    • These dogs literally run their prey to the ground… so you can imagine they don’t carry any extra weight on them… and their legs always remind me of a long distance runner…the colouring makes me think of camouflage now that one of the other comments mentioned it….

  1. They look like survivors, not at all like their cousins–the inbred poodles and other froo-froo breeds that can’t sniff out a treat that is dropped in front of them. And, yes, I’m talking about my beloved Scrappy, too!

  2. Great photos again. Their coats are actually much nicer than I thought, only having seen them from a distance. I remember you correcting me in one of my posts, when I mistakenly referred to them as hyenas. 🙂

  3. Love these guys, especially those ears! I actually think they’re really cute, but that’s because they kind of remind me of my dog GG 😉

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