The African Wild Dog is found in Africa, south of the Sahara and is the largest of its family. African Wild Dogs have been classified as endangered, and the current population is estimated at about 39 subpopulations with around 6,600 adults. In this short guide on African Wild Dogs, we’re going to give you the details on this endangered, highly social animal.
- African Wild Dog Height: 24 to 43 inches
- African Wild Dog Weight: 39 to 79 pounds
- Other Names: African painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, African hunting dog
- African Wild Dog Life Span: 10 to 12 years
African Wild Dog Basics
The African Wild Dog is a pack animal and are highly social, that are generally dominated by an exclusive breeding pair. The female will give birth underground in abandoned dens, to a litter of 2 to 10 pups. The African Wild Dog pups are then cared for by the whole pack. African Wild Dogs regurgitate food for their young and is extended to adults in the pack when they are sick, and it is the bedrock of their social life.
African Wild Dogs are bulky and built solid, they are lean and tall with ears that are outsized and lack dewclaws. Their fur consists of stiff bristle like hairs without underfur, and they lose their fur gradually with age.
The color variation is extreme and can be used as visual identification, because no two African Wild Dogs are marked the exact same way, so they can recognize other dogs at 50-100 meters in distance. There are geographical variations with the fur coloring, African Wild Dogs in the north east tend to have predominantly black, with smaller yellow and white patches. Southern African Wild Dogs are brightly colored with a mixing of brown, black, and white fur.
African Wild Dogs usually go on a hunt in early morning and once again late in the evening. They tend to prey on gazelles, antelopes, warthogs, rats, birds, and wildebeest calves. African Wild Dogs do not usually stay in the same place for very long, so when they hunt domestically the damage isn’t extensive. They are usually on the move covering a large range in the Serengeti of some 900 miles for example. African Wild Dogs will limit their range though, after a litter is born, and hunt a closer area to the den.
African Wild Dog Temperament
African Wild Dogs are not domesticated but are extremely social dogs. They need to have an alpha male, and alpha female at the head of the pack, and strong family binds within their packs. The young always eat first and the adults wait until the pups have finished, they all cooperate with each other while hunting and following the alpha male’s signals.
African Wild Dog Price
There isn’t a price for these dogs because they are not domesticated animals. They run wild in Africa, or in captivity in zoos.
African Wild Dog Pros and Cons
- No incestuous mating
- Organized hunting
- Beautiful fur
- Can run up to 41 mph
- Not domesticated animals
- Not suitable as pets
- Cannot be tamed
African Wild Dog Life Span
African Wild Dogs typically live 10 to 12 years. Inbreeding is extremely rare within these pack dogs and is most likely to lead to extinction within 100 years because there will not be any available unrelated mates.
The males usually stay with their original pack, but females will leave and find new packs to breed, and force current females within that pack to leave and join another pack, and so on preventing inbreeding. Males tend to outnumber females 3 to 1 and rarely ever leave their natal pack, if they do leave they are perpetually rejected by packs containing males already.
Lions are a majorly reasonable for African Wild Dog mortality, therefore population of African Wild dogs in areas with a large lion population is low. Occasionally packs have been seen fending off single lions from attack, and sometimes they are successful.
Spotted hyenas will follow the African Wild Dog packs in attempt to take their kills. Single hyenas may make off with some meat but run the risk of being mobbed. When the hyenas work in a group they tend to be more successful kleptoparasites, but they rarely work in unison, so the African Wild Dogs have an advantage since they tend to assist each other.
African Wild Dog Health Issues and Genetic Problems
The African Wild Dog is now endangered because of habitat loss brought on by human overpopulation, poaching, and viral ailments like canine distemper and rabies. In addition, farmers, who blame the African Wild Dogs for killing livestock, have poisoned many.
African Wild Dog Puppies
Gestation for African Wild Dogs is said to be at around 69 to 72 days, the litter being between 6 to 12 pups and on average a litter of 10. These African Wild Dogs have a hierarchy in which there is a dominant male and female, and only the alpha female may have pups, because they produce so many pups at a time and the amount of food needed to care for them would be too great, and near impossible to acquire.
The alpha female may even kill another female’s litter if they have any. The mother will stay with the pups in the den and drive off any other pack members until the pups are 3 or 4 weeks old and able to eat solid food. The litter is then able to leave the den and are weaned at around 5 weeks old and are fed regurgitated meat from other pack members.
Once African Wild Dog pups reach 8-10 weeks of age the pack will desert the den and the pups will now follow adults on the hunts. The pups will eat first on all the kills, but that luxury ends when they become yearlings.
African Wild Dog Rescue
African Wild Dogs are very unlikely to be seen in a rescue shelter, because they are not domesticated and are not supposed to be pets. You can see African Wild Dogs roaming free in arid zones in Africa, or in a zoo and protected wildlife park.