African Wild Dog Facts | East Africa Wildlife Guide
- Adult African wild dogs are approximately the size of a Labrador retriever, but slimmer and
sinewierfor their size.
- They weigh an average of 55 pounds.
- All have brindled coats of brown, black, khaki and white, and similar black facemasks and white-tipped tails. Each dog has distinctive patterning besides these common traits.
- Their rounded, oversized ears help them hear great distances.
- They have extremely sharp teeth for shearing flesh, including unique, three-pronged knives called tricuspids.
HabitatWild dogs are typically found in savanna, grassland
BehaviorWild dogs are incredibly vocal creatures. Chirps and squeaks reminiscent of bird calls are frequently heard when dogs greet each another. Agitated dogs will bark, and anxious pups sometimes give an owlish “hoo” call. Lions largely disregard wild dogs, but if they come across dogs’ kills they may attempt to chase the dogs off and feed on the carcasses.
Wild Dog SocietyWild dog packs generally comprise of five to six adults with their pups, including a dominant breeding pair. With litters averaging 10 pups and females capable of delivering up to 18, this could bring a pack to 50 members. This actually occurred in the mid-1990s at the Moremi Game Reserve in Botswana—a pack of 46 dogs formed and were so formidable, that they almost chased away all of the other predators in the area.
Feeding HabitsPacks normally hunt once a day, but will hunt more often if the group is large or if there are pups to be fed. Prey size also influences the number of hunts—a wildebeest obviously will satisfy more dogs than will a gazelle. Wild dogs will prey upon a wide array of animals but are best at hunting small to medium-sized antelopes, such as the red lechwe. In bushed and wooded habitats, they will take down warthog and even young kudu. Such species constitute most of their kills, though given the chance they will also catch antelope fawns, hatchlings, hares and other small animals. Large antelopes, such as eland, are rarely taken, and only by very large packs.
Wild dogs have suffered unfair persecution in the past. There was
BreedingLike their hunting behavior, the breeding system for wild dogs is an example of remarkable cooperation. In each pack, only the dominant pair breeds while the other dogs help to rear their offspring. This is done for the good of the
For the first two weeks, the female suckles the litter, spending long periods underground with the pups. After those two weeks, the pups make their first unsteady foray
Photo Credit: David Luck