African wild dogs grow to about the size of a medium to large dog. Fully grown they weigh between 40 and 80 pounds and grow to between 30 and 43 inches tall at the shoulders. Unlike other dogs they have four toes on their feet instead of five. They also have fairly big ears, long skinny legs, and a long tail.
Perhaps their most unique feature is their coat. It is mottled with blotches of different colors including white, brown, black, red, and yellow. They are often called the painted dog due to their coats. Each wild dog has a unique pattern.
Where do they live?
Today African wild dogs are mostly found in eastern and southern Africa. They once roamed a much larger area of Africa. They primarily live in the savanna grasslands, but can also be found in woodland and mountain areas in Africa.
What do African wild dogs eat?
Wild dogs hunt in packs and can bring down some large mammals. They will eat most any mammal that they can catch and kill including antelopes, impala, wildebeest calves, gazelles, and even large birds like ostriches.
Living in a Pack
African wild dogs live in an organized pack similar to wolves. A typical pack will have between 6 and 20 dogs, but some larger packs do exist. The pack hunts together and offers protection from predators. They have been known to help each other out, sharing food and taking care of weaker members. The pack is lead by a dominant male and female pair of dogs.
Are they endangered?
Yes, African wild dogs are an endangered species. There were once nearly 500,000 of them living in Africa, but today there are only between 3,000 and 5,000 living in the wild. The main threat is loss of habitat due to human population. A single pack of wild dogs needs a fairly large hunting territory to survive. When their territory overlaps with farmers, they are often killed to protect the livestock.
Fun Facts about the African Wild Dog
They will typically live around 11 years in the wild.
They are some of the most successful hunters bringing down around 80% of their targeted prey. This compares to lions which typically only catch around 30% of their targeted prey.
Other names for these animals include the African hunting dog, the painted hunting dog, and the ornate wolf.
They have one of the most powerful bites for their body size of any animal in the world.
A typical litter will have around 10 puppies but can have as few as 2 and as many as 20.
Before the pack starts to hunt they jump around in an excited manner. They leap over and dive under each other making excited chirping noises.
The pack stays on the move, rarely staying in one place for more than a day or two.