African Painted Dog

Basic Information:

Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus

Habitat: While African Painted Dogs used to be more common, today the species is limited to small packs scattered across savannas and arid regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Diet: African Painted Dogs are predators and they typically hunt kudu, gazelle, impala, bushbuck, and wildebeest. 

Size: 2 to 3 feet tall / 2.3 to 4 feet long

Weight: 40 to 75 pounds

Lifespan: 10.1 years according to AZA Species Survival Statistics 

Distribution Map:

I.U.C.N. Conservation Status:

What does this mean?

Endangered –  a species determined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (I.U.C.N.) to possess a very high risk of extinction as a result of rapid population declines of 50 to more than 70 percent over the previous 10 years (or three generations), a current population size of fewer than 250 individuals, or other factors. 

Our African Painted Dogs:

Charlie (Female) – Born November 20th, 2018

Ada (Female) – Born November 20th, 2018

Rosie (Female) – Born November 20th, 2018

About African Painted Dogs:

Also known as the African Wild dog, Cape Hunting Dog, or – simply – Painted Dog, African Painted Dogs are an endangered canine native to  Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. Their primary threats include human expansion, being hunted by farmers fearing – inaccurately – for their livestock, and getting caught in traps left by poachers desperate for a quick profit through “bush mean” OR by traps intended for big game animals (which coincidentally also happen to be Painted Dog prey). 

Did You Know?!

  • These long-legged canines have only four toes per foot, unlike other dogs which have five toes on their forefeet.
  • A painted dog’s large, rounded ears give them excellent hearing and help to keep them cool in hot climates.
  • Painted dog’s coat patterning is unique to each individual dog. But, coat patterns are recognizably similar in close relatives.
  • Painted dogs are crepuscular meaning that they rest during the day and become active in the early morning and evening.
  • Painted dogs’ vocal repertoire is one of the most complex in Canidae (dog species) with some sounds unique to the species. 
  • Painted Dogs hunt in formidable, cooperative packs of 6 to 20 (or more) animals. Larger packs were more common before the dogs became endangered. Packs on the larger side are capable of hunting more efficiently and successfully, can prey on larger species, and have a better chance of protecting their kills from scavengers. This decreases the quantity of required hunts, which reduces the pack’s energetic costs and risk, increasing overall fitness.
  • The largest populations of African painted dogs can be found in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
  • Painted dogs hunt cooperatively in a relay type form taking turns running after the prey. Painted dogs depend on their ability to run for a long time without getting tired so they can outlast their prey. They can run up to 37 miles per hour for up to 3 miles.
  • They are one of the most successful hunters in all of Africa, catching prey 70 to 90 percent of the time (lions are only successful 30 to 40 percent of the time).
  •  In a painted dog pack, there is one dominant male and female called the alpha pair. The most reliable way to recognize them is by observing which members of the pack urine-mark as this task is the prerogative of the dominant male and female. Typically only the female alpha will breed, but subordinate females (betas) will sometimes have litters of their own. 
  • A painted dog’s litter has – on average – 10 to 12 pups, however they can have up to 21. This is the largest litter of any dog species.
  • Painted dog pack members get along very well most of the time. Food sharing is a critical part of pack life. The adult dogs eat and then regurgitate the meat for injured or ill pack members and youngsters.
  • With most social mammals, the females stay with the group and raise their young while the males leave to start new groups. Painted dogs do the opposite. The females are the ones to leave the pack, sometimes as a group of sisters, to join a new pack when they are about three years old. Males generally remain in the pack they were born into.
  • Given the social nature of painted dogs, a disease such as rabies can permeate an entire group through just one dog, and wipe out a whole pack. To help combat this, several conservation organizations have programs that involve vaccinating as many domestic dogs as possible in the villages that surround areas where painted dogs are present.

Due to needing time to set up for our Wine in the Wilderness Event, on June 3rd the zoo will be closing to the public at 1pm! We will reopen our doors at 6pm for the event! Event tickets will still be purchasable at our gift shop during this time!