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African Wild Dog: Why Is It Endangered?

The African wild dog might be the most misunderstood animal on the planet. This is large because these species are incredibly rare – there are only about 6,000 of them left in the wild.

  • Status: Endangered
  • Known as: African Wild Dog, Painted Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, African Hunting Dog.
  • Estimated numbers left in the wild: 3.000 – 5.000 can be found primarily on game reserves and national parks.

And because they live in Africa and tend to inhabit areas also home to lions and hyenas, many people assume that they are just another predator.


African Wild Dog

Anatomy and Appearance

The African wild dog has a unique appearance that is easily recognizable; they are comparatively lean and tall.

They are the only canine species with black markings on their muzzle and legs, and they have reddish-brown fur. Their physical description is relatively small, averaging only around 45 pounds in weight.

Wild dogs are also distinguished by their anatomy. They have powerful jaws and teeth, which allow them to kill even large prey animals. They also have very long legs, which give them a characteristic loping gait.

There are very few scientific studies of wild dogs in the wild, so there is little information on the difference between male and female African wild dogs. However, it is believed that the males are slightly larger than the females.

African Wild Dog Habitat

African wild dogs live in eastern and southern Africa in Tanzania, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Isolated populations can be found in Zambia, Mozambique, and Kenya.

Wild dogs prefer to roam in savannah, open plains, and sparse woodlands. Check out these other types of terrain from around the world. The wild dogs live in savannas and grasslands. They need areas with plenty of space to run and hunt. African Wild Dogs also need dense vegetation to provide shelter from the heat and hide from prey.

The African wild dog is an ancient species that is believed to have evolved around 2 million years ago. They are the oldest of all the canid species, including dogs, wolves, and foxes.

African wild dogs are unique in many ways. They are one of the few mammalian species that exhibit cooperative hunting behavior. It means that they work together as a team to kill prey. Wild dogs are also the only canids that do not form pair bonds. Instead, they live in Packs made up of closely related females and their young.

African Wild Dog Diet and Nutrition

The diet of the African wild dog consists mainly of small prey, such as rodents, hares, and antelopes. They also eat insects, carrion, and fruit. Africans are monogamous, and both parents take care of the young.


African wild dogs are unique in the way that they hunt. They work together in packs to take down prey. Their cooperative hunting style is very successful, and they can bring down prey much larger than themselves.

African wild dogs hunt in packs. They will stalk their wild prey species until close enough to attack. The entire pack will then surround the prey and start to bite it.

African Wild Dog Mating Habits

African Wild Dog Standing on a Rock

It usually is only for the alpha female and male to reproduce, while the rest of the pack will help look after the pups. African wild dogs typically mate during the late winter or early spring.

A litter will be born every year in a pack with up to 16 pups in each. Unfortunately, the mortality rate is high, so not all will survive.

The gestation period for an African wild dog is approximately two months. Litters are typically small, with only two to six puppies.

The puppies are born blind and deaf and rely on their mother for food and protection. The wild dog pup depends on their mothers for around six to eight weeks.

The average life span of a wild dog is 11 years.

See Related: List of Animals That Mate for Life

Role in the Ecosystems 

The African wild dog is an essential predator in many ecosystems, helping to keep populations of prey animals in check.

They also help distribute nutrients throughout the ecosystem by scavenging on the kills of other predators. However, these dogs are now endangered, with only around 6,600 individuals remaining in the wild.

These large predators could become extinct if their population continues to decline. This would be a significant loss to the ecosystem, as they play an essential role in controlling prey populations.

Pack Structure

The African Wild Dog is a monogamous and territorial animal. They have a strong pair bond, and both the male and female take part in raising the young. They are very social animals and live in packs of up to 20 individuals.

They are highly social animals living in packs, dominated by a breeding pair, and separated into male and female hierarchies. A pack hunts together and returns to the den to feed the dominant female, puppies, and sick dogs.

The painted dog is one of the very few mammals that look after old, sick, and weak animals and disabled members of the pack. The average pack consists of about ten members, with the majority being male, unlike any other canine species.

Historically packs may have numbered up to 40 individuals!

African Wild Dog Facts

  • African wild dogs can grow up to 110 cm in height and weigh up to 36 kg, the same size as a medium-sized domestic dog.
  • The African Wild Dog is Africa’s most endangered carnivore
  • African wild dogs are often referred to as Cape hunting dogs and Painted dogs
  • They’re the most social of all canids
  • They’re some of the world’s best hunters
  • The African wild dogs are essential in eliminating diseased and weak animals for the natural balance.
  • The name painted hunting dog is derived from the splotchy markings on the dog’s coat.
  • They live in packs of up to 40 individuals
  • These markings are unique to each individual in the pack members and help other dogs identify that individual.

Conservation Status

African Wild Dog Standing on a Rock

The African wild dog is an endangered species with a population of fewer than 7000 individuals.

Habitat fragmentation, disease, and conflict with humans are the main threats to survival. There is a great need for conservation efforts to protect this species.


The African wild dog is a subspecies of the gray wolf. It is also known as the painted hunting dog, native to Africa. The wild dog is the largest member of the canid family in Africa, and it is the only species of canid that is not found in North or South America.

The African wild dog is an endangered species, and its population has declined by over 90% since the early 20th century.

This decline has several reasons, including habitat destruction,human-wildlife conflict, diseases spread by domestic dogs, and poaching.

Habitat loss

Habitat loss is a major threat to the African wild dog. The species requires large areas of uninterrupted habitat to survive.

However, much of its traditional habitat has been lost due to expanding human settlements and agricultural activities. As a result, the African wild dog is now confined to small pockets of suitable habitat in Africa.

Human-wild dog conflict

Human-wild dog conflict is another major threat to the species. African wild dogs often conflict with humans when they prey on livestock.

This can lead to retaliatory killings by farmers or herders. In addition, these large predators are sometimes killed for their body parts, which are used in traditional medicine.

Diseases spread from domestic dogs.

Diseases spread by domestic dogs are another significant threat to the diseases like canine distemper. Domestic dogs can carry deadly diseases to wild dogs, such as rabies and distemper. These diseases can spread quickly through a population of African wild dogs, decimating it.


Poaching is also a significant threat to the African wild dog. The species is often killed for its fur, which is used to make traditional clothing.

In addition, African wild dogs are sometimes killed for bushmeat. Numbers have declined rapidly across Africa due to hunting and its status as a pest. As a result, they are now recognized as Africa’s most endangered predator.

An African wild dog pack will roam over a large territory and can only live in large protected areas. If the pack expands and moves into unprotected areas like farmland, they will often be killed by farmers and ranchers who protect their domestic animals.


Predators play an essential role in regulating wild dog populations by limiting their numbers.

When there are too many predators, the dogs’ population decreases; when there are few predators, the population increases. This happens because the dogs are forced to compete for food with the predators.

It leads to less food for the dogs and eventual starvation or death.

Food Scarcity

One reason for the food scarcity affecting the African wild dog population is that they are preyed upon by other predators such as lions, leopards, and hyenas. In addition, they also compete with other carnivores for food.

See Related: Importance of Wildlife Conservation

Conservation Efforts

African Wild Dog That Look Like Smiling

Conservation groups work to prevent the decline of African wild dogs through active work in the bush or education and studies of their behavior.

The active work includes the removal of snares to prevent poaching, vaccinations against rabies, and keeping the gene pool diverse by creating new packs consisting of recovered dogs and orphans.

Here are some conservation efforts to save African wild dogs from extinction.

  • Educate people about the importance of African wild dogs and their role in the ecosystem
  • Advocate for protected areas that are crucial to the survival of African wild dogs
  • Collaborate with local communities to create and enforce anti-poaching measures
  • Support research on wild dog biology and ecology
  • Fund conservation initiatives that preserve habitat and promote population growth


African Wild Dog Conservancy

African Wild Dog Conservancy operates in Kenya to protect African Wild Dogs through research programs, educational programs, and training in the local communities.

The African Wild Dog Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that was established in 2003 to help protect and conserve the most successful hunter, with an average of 80% success. The African wild dog’s bushy tail has a white tip that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting.

The African wild dog’s bushy tail has a white tip that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting. Each wild dog has its unique coat pattern.

Next View all facts Facts X Of all the large land predators, the wild dog is the most successful hunter, with an average of 80% success. The African wild dog’s bushy tail has a white tip that may serve as a flag to keep the pack in contact while hunting. The African

African Wildlife Foundation

The African Wildlife Foundation is a nonprofit conservation organization that works in Africa to protect wildlife and wildlands. One of the main focuses of AWF’s work is the conservation of African wild dogs.

African wild dogs are one of the continent’s most endangered mammal species. There are only about 6,600 remaining in the wild, and their numbers are declining.

The main threats to wild dogs are habitat loss and fragmentation, diseases such as rabies, and conflict with humans.

African Wildlife Foundation is working to protect African wild dogs through several initiatives. We are supporting research on the species, working with partners to secure protected areas for them, and raising awareness about the importance of conserving this endangered species.

The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre

The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre runs a breeding program to ensure the survival of African wild dogs in South Africa. They are also involved in research projects, education, and raising public awareness of the species.

The Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre is a conservation center’s most successful hunter, with an average of 80% success.

The center was founded in 1971 by Ann van Dyk and is now run by her son, Rob. The center is dedicated to the conservation of the African wild dog and has successfully reintroduced captive-bred wild dogs into the wild.

African wild dogs are currently listed as endangered by the IUCN, with an estimated population of just 6,600-10,500 animals. The main threats to their survival are habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching, and disease.

Botswana Predator Conservation Trust

Botswana Predator Conservation Trust has been studying the African hunting dogs since 1989 to understand their territories and how to limit the conflict with humans.

The Botswana Predator Conservation Trust is a nonprofit organization that focuses on conserving predators in Botswana.

One of the main priorities for the BPCT is the conservation of African wild dogs. The BPCT has been working to achieve this goal by implementing different programs and projects.

Call from the Wild

Call from the Wild is an organization started by the Frankfurt Zoological Society that supports a variety of national parks like the Kruger National Park and throughout Africa to protect different endangered species, including African wild dogs.

The African Wild Dog Conservation Project runs the Call from the Wild conservation efforts for African wild dogs.

They are a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to the preservation of the species. They work with local communities to help educate them about the importance of the animals and also work to provide

Wildlife Conservation Society

Wildlife Conservation Society was formed in 1895 to protect 25 percent of the world’s biodiversity by promoting the importance of protecting wildlife and their habitats. WCS has five zoos in New York.

The Wildlife Conservation Society is a nonprofit organization that engages in the conservation of wildlife and their habitats. WCS was founded in 1895 and worked in over 60 countries.

The main areas of work for the organization are: creating protected areas, conducting research, working with local communities, and providing training and education.

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation supports the work of Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe. Funding goes towards anti-poaching activities, fieldwork, and education programs.

The David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation (DSWF) is a charity established in the United Kingdom in 1989 by the world-renowned artist and conservationist David Shepherd CBE.

DSWF’s fundamental aim is to support conservation projects that protect Africa’s wildlife and habitats, focusing on elephants, lions, and African wild dogs.

Check out these other top environmental organizations in Africa.

Painted Dog Conservancy

The Painted Dog Conservancy is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of African hunting dogs. The organization was founded in 2001 by Gregory Rasmussen and his wife, Dr. Laurie Marker.

The African painted dog conservancy has successfully conserved the species by working with local communities, government agencies, and other conservation organizations.

The organization has also successfully raised awareness about the species and its plight.

World Wildlife Fund

The World Wildlife Fund is dedicated to the conservation of wild dogs.

These animals are under threat due to poaching, loss of habitat, and disease. The organization is working hard to protect these animals and their habitat and to raise awareness about the importance of their conservation.

See Related: Best Wildlife Conservation Jobs

Final thoughts

African Wild Dog Standing on a Rock

The African is an endangered species under threat from poaching, loss of habitat, and disease.

Conservation organizations like the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust, Call from the Wild, Wildlife Conservation Society, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, and Painted Dog Conservancy are working hard to protect these animals and their habitats.

The World Wildlife Fund is also dedicated to the conservation of wild dogs. You can help by supporting these organizations and their efforts to protect this amazing animal.


Can an African wild dog be a pet?

African wild dogs are not typically considered pets, as they are difficult to care for and require a lot of space. However, some people do keep them as pets.

What are wild African dogs called?

African Wild Dogs are called Painted Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, and African Hunting Dog.

Is the African wild dog rare?

Yes, the African wild dog is considered rare, and it’s estimated that only about 6,000 to 10,000 of these animals remain in the wild.

What is the main goal of the African Wild Dog Conservancy?

The African Wild Dog Conservancy, based in Namibia, was established to protect the endangered African wild dog.

This conservancy is committed to returning the number of dogs in Namibia to sustainable levels and then introducing them into protected areas where they have been most affected by infectious diseases, improving communication among stakeholders, and global awareness.

How to Help African Wild Dogs?

The African Wild Dog is classified as endangered, which means they are at risk of becoming extinct in the wild. There are a few things you can do to help these animals:

– Learn about the wild dogs and what puts them at risk.
– Don’t support businesses that hunt or trade-in wild animal parts.
– Help raise awareness about the plight of wild dogs and other endangered animals.
– Donate to or volunteer with organizations that are working to conserve these animals.
– Speak out for policies that will help protect endangered species.

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