SPECIES LYCAON PICTUS
African Painted Dogs are a sub-Saharan canid.
Their reputation as voracious killers and for killing livestock has led to human persecution, which, along with habitat loss and disease transmission from feral dogs, has accounted for a large decline in their wild numbers. They are listed as an endangered species by the IUCN. There are estimated to be less than 6,500 dogs left in the wild.
Their original range has been greatly reduced, with most populations now concentrated around Botswana, surrounding South Africa, and the southern part of East Africa.
They have a highly complex social structure with a dominant female and male. The entire pack contributes to the feeding of the pups by regurgitating food for them.
Only the dominant pair breed with the litter size numbering up to 15 pups in a single litter.
They differ from domestic dogs in a number of ways with their specialised dentition and lack of dew claws being two examples.
While they do have highly sensitive hearing, their large flat round ears serve a secondary purpose – they are filled with blood vessels and act like “radiators” for cooling. This is especially important during a hunt which may last for many hours and involve running for great distances.
They also have an extensive array of vocalisations which are used to communicate with one another.
It is thought that the white tail tip acts like a “flag” which may help the pack keep in visual contact during a hunt. This pack size can number more than 20 dogs.
Whilst adult dogs have a variety of asymmetrical patterns made up of brown, black and white, pups are born black and white and the brown colouration develops as they mature.