The African Wild Dog (scientific name; Lycaon pictus) belongs to the largest of its family in Africa. Also called Cape hunting dog or painted dog, they typically roam the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. These incredibly social animals have musky colors and irregular fur patterns, which make them seem unclean and unkempt. Often judged by their appearance, the African Wild Dogs have much more to know than meets the eye. Let’s have some interesting facts about this endangered animal:
1. The Largest African Dog
Although they look unclean and unkempt, the mighty size of the African Wild Dogs makes them the largest of its family in Africa.
2. Aggressive Look
Besides having irregular fur patterns and musky color, they mostly travel in packs, which make them appear aggressive and confrontational.
3. Colorful Physique
For their mottled fur with black, brown, yellow and white colorings, The African Wild Dogs are also called “Painted Dog” or “Painted Wolf.”
4. Every Dog Has its Own Identity
Every African Wild Dog’s coat has a unique pattern; making individuals easy to spot.
5. Strong Senses
The African Wild Dogs have exceptionally keen senses of smell, sight and particularly hearing. Their large rounded ears are like two radar dishes, picking up the minutest of sounds.
6. A Formidable Hunter
A size of 6 ft and weight 39.5 to 79 pounds, make these dogs a perfect hunter. For shearing meat and breaking bone, they are equipped with specialized molars, which have an extremely powerful bite. Their long legs and lean build all assist in making this animal a formidable hunter.
7. Unique Legs
Unlike other normal dogs which have five toes, these long-legged dogs have only four toes on their forefeet. The missing toe is often termed as “dewclaw.”
8. Live & Hunt in Packs
The African Wild Dogs live, travel, and hunt in packs. They mostly hunt in formidable and cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more). However, larger packs were more common before they became endangered.
9. Separate Dominance Hierarchies for Males and Females
The African Wild Dogs are unique among social carnivores; as they have separate dominance hierarchies for males and females. In this case, it’s females who scatter from the natal pack once sexually matured; rather than males.
10. Incredible Social Behavior
The African Wild Dogs show incredible social behavior. While living in packs, they share food and also assist the weak or ill members. They almost never fight amongst themselves over food.
11. Nomadic Animals
These dogs show a nomadic lifestyle and can traverse up to 50 km in a single day; because of this, their territories can range between 400 and 1500 square kilometers.
12. Life Span
When living in the wild, these dogs live up to the age of 11.
13. Super Sprinter
The African Wild Dogs can run up to 44 mph; same as a greyhound.
14. Non-Domestic Animals
The African Wild Dog is so loyal to its species and habitat that it’s almost impossible to be domesticated by humans.
15. More Successful Than Lions
The African Wild Dogs have an 80% success rate in hunting compared to the 30% of lions; credit goes to the high level of communication and the coordinated nature of the pack.
16. Their Natural Preys & Diet
The natural preys of the African Wild Dogs include the greater kudu, Thomson’s gazelle, impala, bushbuck, and blue wildebeest. Although they rarely scavenge, on certain occasions, they have been spotted feeding on carcasses from spotted hyenas, leopards, cheetahs, and lions. Reportedly, an African Wild Dog eats 1.7 kg (3.7 lb) of meat on average each day.
17. Secret Births
The African Wild Dogs use abandoned underground warthog and porcupine dens to give birth in.
18. Pups First
Pups are given priority over dominant pack members for feeding; another magnificent social behavior of these dogs.
19. Their Biggest Enemies are Humans
Although their main enemies in the wild include lions and hyenas, the reason why there are only about 5,000 African Wild Dogs left is mainly down to we the humans. Farmers have declared them vermin and shoot away any dog they see. The human civilization encroaching on their habitats has also contributed to listing them as “Endangered.” Interestingly, there have been no reports of any African Wild Dog to attack humans till date.