African painted dog in exhibit

African Painted Dog

Scientific Name
Lycaon pictus
Geographic Range
Sub-Saharan Africa
Mostly medium-sized ungulates
African painted dog in exhibit Endangered Status Graph - Endangered Endangered Status Graph - Endangered

More Information

African painted dogs are large canids named for their multi-colored coat, which features a mottled pattern of black, white, gold, and brown. They also have a white tail tip and a dark vertical stripe on their forehead. These dogs are a little over 2 feet tall at the shoulder and 2.5–3.5 feet long without the tail. They weigh 40–80 pounds and have large round ears.

These dogs live in packs of up to 30 individuals, consisting of a dominant breeding pair, other adults, and multiple offspring. They hunt in groups in the morning and early evenings and communicate through complex and diverse vocalizations. They even have an elaborate greeting ritual involving muzzle-to-muzzle contact. Breeding peaks during rainy seasons between the dominant pair. Gestation is 10 weeks and litter size averages 12 pups. Pups nurse for five weeks and the whole pack cares for them. African painted dogs are endangered due to habitat fragmentation, disease transmission and conflict with humans.

Did You Know?

  • Because of their coloration, African painted dogs are often mistaken for hyenas, but they are only distantly related.
  • They are effective hunters, more so than other large carnivores such as lions and leopards.
  • Their packs are strongly bonded; they spend 95 percent of their lives within earshot of one another. Pack members feed regurgitated food to young, wounded, and sick dogs within their packs.


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