The African wild dog is a canine that is a native species to sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest wild canine in Africa, and the only extant member of the genus Lycaon, which is distinguished from Canis by dentition highly specialized for a hyper carnivorous diet, and a lack of dewclaws. They can reach speeds of more than 44 miles per hour. is known by many names, including Cape hunting dog or painted dog. Its scientific name is Lycaon pictus, which means “painted wolf,” referring to the animal’s irregular, mottled coat, which features patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur. Each animal has its own unique coat pattern, and all have big, rounded ears.
The African wild dog is a highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females. Uniquely among social carnivores, the females rather than the males disperse from the natal pack once sexually mature. The young are allowed to feed first on carcasses. The species is a specialized diurnal hunter of antelopes, which it catches by chasing them to exhaustion. Like other canids, the African wild dog regurgitates food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults, to the point of being central to their social life.
Its natural enemies are lions and hyenas: the former will kill the canids where possible, whilst hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites. These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs, which have five toes on their forefeet.
African Wild Dog Scientific Classification
- Common Name: African wild dogs
- Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus
- Size: 29.5 to 43 inches
- Weight: 39.5 to 79 pounds.
- Type: Mammals
- Diet: Carnivore
- Group Name: Pack
- Life Span: 10 to 12 years
African wild dogs typically roam the open plains and sparse woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. They are found in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
They are hunted and killed by farmers who fear for their livestock. They are also threatened by shrinking space to roam in their African home as well as their susceptibility to diseases like rabies and canine distemper.