African wild dogs are the size of medium domestic dogs. Their Latin name, Lycaon pictus, means “painted wolf-like animal.” Their coats are mottled in shades of brown, black and beige. They have large, rounded ears and dark brown circles around their eyes. The dogs differ from wolves and other dogs in that they have four toes instead of five.
Size: African wild dogs typically measure around 30 inches high, and around 40 inches long, with a tail of 12-18 inches in length.
Weight: African wild dogs weigh from 37 to 80 pounds.
Lifespan: Up to 10 years.
African wild dogs hunt antelope, zebras, wildebeest, springboks, gazelles and impala.
Between 2,000 and 5,000 African wild dogs remain in the wild, mostly in game preserves or national parks.
African wild dogs are found primarily in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. Savannas, grasslands and open woodlands are the preferred habitats of African wild dogs
African wild dogs live and hunt in groups called packs. Packs typically include an alpha (dominant) male and female, their offspring and other related members. Historically, more than 100 dogs gathered in packs during spring migrations, but today the average pack of African wild dogs contains approximately 10 members. Unlike other canine species, packs of wild dogs frequently contain more male members than female members.
Like most members of the dog family, it is a cursorial hunter, meaning that it pursues its prey in a long, open chase. Nearly 80% of all hunts end in a kill.Lions, the top predator, achieve only 30%.
Normally only the alpha male and female reproduce, while other members of the pack help care for the young. Pups are born every year, usually from March through June. A litter may contain as many as 16 pups, although infant mortality is high.
African wild dogs face a number of serious threats, including habitat loss, human persecution (hunting and poisoning), disease spread from domestic animals and isolated populations.
Defenders of Wildlife is working to pass legislation that would help conserve 15 species of great cats and rare canines that exist outside the U.S., including the African wild dog.
- Endangered Species Act (ESA): The African wild dog is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
- IUCN Red List: The African wild dog is listed as endangered.