Geographical Range Southern Africa, South Africa, southern part of East Africa
Habitat Open woodlands, grasslands
Scientific Name Lycaon pictus
Conservation Status Endangered

Wild Thing of Beauty

Painted dogs, also known as African wild dogs or Cape hunting dogs, are the largest African canid. The painted dog has long slim legs, large, rounded ears and a beautifully mottled coat of brown, black, white, red and yellow. The hair coloration is highly variable and unique to each individual. The muzzle is black and the tip of the tail is white. They have four toes on their front feet, rather than five like other dogs.

Painted dogs can run for long periods of time, exhausting their prey. In the wild, these dogs hunt gazelles and other antelope, and supplement their diet with rodents and birds.

Unlike most social animals, the males stay with the pack while the females leave to join a new pack. They communicate within the group by making high-pitched vocalizations.

Dogs in Danger

These social pack animals are among the most endangered canids in the world. Once common in Africa, the dogs number fewer than 3,000 in the wild today. Habitat fragmentation, conflict with human activities, and diseases such as rabies and canine distemper caught from domestic dogs are among the issues faced by the painted dog. The painted dog is legally protected across much of its range, but this is rarely enforced.