|African Wild Dog|
|Common Name||African Painted Dog, African Wild Dog, Painted Wolf, Cape Hunting Dog|
African Painted dogs are 60-75 centimeters high at the shoulder. They have a head and body that is 75-100 centimeters (29.5-39.4 inches) long and a tail that is 30-40 centimeters (11.8-15.7 inches) long. A painted dog weighs 44-66.1 pounds (20-30 kilograms). Each individual dog has its own unique pattern of yellow, black, white! and gray blotches on its coat, although there is sometimes family resemblances of pattern within a pack. The African Painted Dog has only four toes, unlike most canids.
Like the wolf and the Dhole, the African Painted Dog lives and hunts in packs, numbering between six to twenty members. Unlike wolves, there is no single pack leader; there are rather divisions of labor, with some dogs caring for and guarding the pups, while the rest are hunting. Painted dogs spend most of the day in their dens or resting together in the shade. In the early morning and evening, pack members engage in mock fighting before going hunting. Painted dogs rarely dig their own dens, usually using the abandoned burrows of warthogs and other large burrowing animals.
In the wild, painted dogs hunt animals like antelope, young zebras, wildebeests, and warthogs. Once they spot the prey, the dogs charge at the herd and attack an animal singled out from the herd. They kill their prey quickly once they have pulled it to the ground. Although, a hunt may last less than five minutes, it may cover two miles. Before they return to the rest of the pack, the dogs eat at the kill site, and, when they return to the rest of the pack, they regurgitate meat for the other dogs. A pack of 20 wild dogs kills nearly 90 pounds of meat.
In East Africa, painted dogs breed year-round, but, in other parts of their range, they usually breed the first half of the year. A female in heat marks an area with her urine. The male that has selected her for a mate will urinate in the same place. After a 72 day gestation period, a litter of 6-8 pups is born. Newborn pups are black with scattered white spots. They develop their adult coating when they are six to seven weeks old. At two to three weeks old, the pups eat small amounts of regurgitated meat. The pups are fully weaned at 12 weeks of age. African painted dogs are sexually mature at 12 - 18 months old. An African Painted Dog lives an average of 4 years in the wild and 10 years in captivity.
The African painted dog is listed on the IUCN red list as "Endangered". It is currently threatened by habitat loss, hunting, and disease. There are fewer than 10,000 African painted dogs left in the wild. Zoos are breeding painted dogs through breeding programs such as the Species Survival Plan.