AFRICAN WILD DOG There are lots of different names for these dogs, and here are some of them: African Wild Dog, African Hunting Dog, Cape Hunting Dog, Painted Dog, Painted Wolf, Painted Hunting Dog, Spotted Dog, and Ornate Wolf. African wild dogs are the size of medium domestic dogs. Their Latin name, Lycaon pictus, means "painted wolf-like animal.“ Their coats are mottled in shades of brown, black and beige. They have large, rounded ears and dark brown circles around their eyes. The dogs differ from wolves and other dogs in that they have four toes instead of five. The African Wild Dog a canid ( canid) , just like wolves , foxes , dogs, jackals and the coyote. That genus decided to branch off from the doggy family tree about 3 million years ago and do its own thing. And the result is that now the Wild African Dog has such different genes that it can't even mate with a regular wolf or dog. It can only mate with its own kind. jackal coyote fox wolf African Wild Dogs are tall and kind of skinny. They usually weigh between 40 and 75 pounds, and they are about 30 inches tall at the shoulder. The dogs in southern Africa are mostly bigger than the ones in eastern or western Africa. They are the only canids with no dew claws, and that's not because their breeders cut them off when they are puppies! Every African Wild Dog has a different pattern of spots, so it is pretty easy to tell them apart. These dogs like to live in packs because they are very social animals. And just like in wolf packs, only the alpha ( dominant) male and female make puppies, but the whole rest of the pack helps feed and take care of the pups. The gestation period of a wild dog is about 70 days, and the litter can be anywhere between 2 and 19 pups. When it's time for puppies to be born, the pack finds a den that was dug by some other animal, usually an aardvark. Then when they are 3 months old, they leave the den and start running with the pack. They learn to kill small animals by the time they are 8-11 months old, and they get really good at hunting by the age of 12-14 months. The life span for a Wild Dog is about 4-8 years. The diet of African Wild Dogs is all made up of meat, and their favorite animals to eat are gazelles, springboks, kudu, and wildebeest calves. When they are hunting animals like this, they work together as a pack, and they communicate by making weird little chirping and squeaking sounds. They don't try to sneak up on their prey. They just find a herd of animals and make them start running. Then they pick one animal to kill that is maybe old or sick, and they just keep on chasing it until it can't run anymore. Wild Dogs are really good runners. They can go as fast as 35 m.p.h. for 3 miles or maybe more. Some packs are able to kill bigger, scarier animals such as zebras or warthogs by using a special strategy. One dog grabs the tail of the prey, and another one bites its nose. Then they hang on while the rest of the dogs try to rip open the animal's tummy. The African Wild Dog pack hunts at least once a day, usually at dawn or dusk, because they hunt by sight. In the middle of the day, they mostly hang out in the shade and sleep. African Wild Dogs are probably the best hunters in the whole world because they kill almost 80% of the prey they go after. Everybody thinks that lions are good hunters, but lions only kill 30% of their prey. There used to be lots and lots of Painted Dogs in Africa, like about 500,000 in 39 countries. But now there are only between 3,000 and 5,500 in maybe as few as 14 countries. This means the species is ENDANGERED. And there are several reasons for how they got that way. One reason is that the Wild African Dog needs a really huge hunting range of 150 to 500 square miles. And because they need so much territory, they don't fit very well into the African national parks. So this means that the packs start running through ranches and farmland, which makes people unhappy, and then they want to shoot the dogs. Game hunters sometimes also kill African Wild Dogs, and so do lions and hyenas. Also there are diseases that might kill Wild Dogs, such as rabies, distemper, and parvovirus.