African wild dogs are the size of medium domestic dogs. Their Latin name, Lycaon pictus, means "painted wolf-like animal." Their coats are mottled in shades of brown, black and beige. They have large, rounded ears and dark brown circles around their eyes. They differ from wolves and other dogs in that they have four toes instead of five.
© Michael Gäbler / Wikimedia Commons
The average African wild dog weighs between 37 and 80 pounds and measures 24 to 30 inches high.
African wild dogs hunt antelope, zebras , wildebeest, springboks, gazelles and impala.
Between 2,000 and 5,000 of these dogs remain in the wild, mostly in game preserves or national parks.
African wild dogs can live up to 10 years.
African wild dogs are only found in Africa, south of the Sahara Desert.
Savannas , grasslands and open woodlands are the preferred habitats of African wild dogs.
African wild dogs live and hunt in groups called packs. Packs typically include an alpha (dominant) male and female, their offspring and other related members. Historically, more than 100 dogs gathered in packs during spring migrations, but today the average pack of African wild dogs contains approximately 10 members. Unlike other canine species, packs of wild dogs frequently contain more male members than female members.
Normally only the alpha male and female reproduce, while other members of the pack help care for the young. Pups are born every year, usually from March through June. A litter may contain as many as 16 pups, although infant mortality is high.
African wild dogs face a number of serious threats, including habitat loss , human persecution (hunting and poisoning), disease spread from domestic animals and isolated populations.