African Wild Dog

African wild dog

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The scientific name for African wild dog is Lycaon pictus. Also commonly known as African hunting dog, painted hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, and painted wolf. 

They are native to sub-Saharan Africa with the largest populations in southern Africa and coastal east africa, preferring savannah and arid regions and occasionally seen in forest areas.

They are the largest canine native to Africa.

The African wild dog is similar to other dogs and wolves, but they are in a different genus. The African wild dog is the only living member of the genus Lycaon. Dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals all belong to the genus Canis. 

One of the main differences between them is the African wild dog has specialized dentition for their hypercarnivorous diet. They have some of the largest premolars relative to their body size for a carnivoran living today. Only the spotted hyena has larger. 

The other main difference is that the African wild dog lacks dewclaws. 

African wild dogs are extremely social and live in packs averaging 6 to 20 adults and sometimes larger. They form very strong bonds with each other and it is very rare to find them living or hunting solo.

Each dog’s coat has a unique pattern and colors and they can vary greatly. It is believed they may be able to recognize each other at distances due to their individual coats.

They are predators that hunt medium-sized antelope such as impala and gazelle, wildebeest, warthogs, rodents, hares, birds, and even porcupine.

The African wild dog can run up to 44 miles per hour and can chase their faster prey over a couple of miles to wear them down.

Pack members will regurgitate meat to feed to pups, pregnant females, and weaker or injured dogs.

In terms of size, they average 24 to 30 inches tall at the shoulder and 40 to 70 pounds. The dogs from east Africa tend to be smaller than the ones from southern Africa, and males are usually a little larger than females. 

The dominant female of the pack is usually the only one to have pups as it requires a lot of food to feed them, and the entire pack helps raise them. Litter sizes can be up to 20 pups with 10 being average. They usually have 1 litter every 12 to 14 months, and the gestation period is 69 to 73 days. 

In the wild, they can live up to 11 years and in captivity up to 13 years. Their natural enemies in the wild are lions and hyenas. 

The African wild dog is one of the most endangered mammals with a population around 6600. They are threatened by habitat loss and fragmentation, competition for food with lions, killing by humans, and diseases.

Check out this beautiful coat and huge ears!

African Wild Dog coat
Image by Feliciano Moya López from Pixabay

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