African Painted Dogs

Love African wildlife? These African wild dogs play an essential role in their ecosystem.

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Meet Our African Painted Dogs

Once known as African wild dogs, painted wolves, and cape hunting dogs, painted dogs get their name from their incredible coats – interestingly, each as unique as a fingerprint. In fact, researchers believe their color patterns allow pack members to recognize each other from distances up to 100 meters away.

Shaba & Her Daughters' Pack

How did Shaba earn her nickname “The Riddler”? 

Read their story

Wild About African Painted Dogs

Wise Beyond Their Ears

“The social structure of African wild dog packs is truly fascinating. Dominated by a matriarch, only the alpha pair breeds. When pups are born, they take priority, even over the alphas, with every member of the pack taking a back seat to ensure that the pups are fed and well cared for. Similarly, if a pack member is ill, injured, or elderly, the rest of the pack will care for and feed them, making sure they have what they need to survive. This unique ranking system creates peace among the pack, and there is almost never any fighting over food amongst African wild dogs.”
— Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photographer and author of The Photo Ark

Where do African painted dogs live?

African painted dogs are native to western, eastern, and central sub-Sahara Africa, but their population has slowly reduced over most of their range throughout the past 100 years. They currently survive only in isolated populations throughout Southern and Eastern Africa.

In the wild, painted dogs can now only be found in a few countries including Botswana, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Namibia, and Kenya.

Are African painted dogs endangered?

Yes, there are estimated to be fewer than 4000 in the wild. Reasons for their decline include persecution by humans, predator control programs, habitat loss and diseases like rabies and distemper.

Why do African painted dogs have big ears?

These animals are easily distinguished from other canids by their distinctive yellow, black, and white coats, and their large rounded ears, which help them dissipate heat.

How do African painted dogs recognize other members of their pack?

Interestingly, each animal’s coat is as unique as a human fingerprint, allowing the dogs (and us) to distinguish one from another. Researchers believe that the color patterns allow them to recognize each other at distances of 50 to 100 meters.

Do African painted dogs live in packs?

They do. In fact, their social behavior also sets them apart from other canids. They spend about 80% of their time in close association with one another, more than any other species of wild canid.

What do African painted dogs eat?

Due to the closeness of their pack and the participation of all but the young and the babysitters of the pack, painted dogs astoundingly catch their prey 60% of the time (compared to the 10% success rate of other canids). Their ability to reach and sustain speeds of up to 41 mph allows them to catch many elusive ungulates including gazelles, antelope, impala, kudu and wildebeest.

Adopt our African Painted Dog Pack

The African Painted Dog, known commonly as the African wild dog, is one of the most endangered mammals in the world. Your symbolic adoption of our African Painted Dog pack includes a special adoption package.