This post is dedicated to facts about wild dogs, some of the facts you might not have known.
They are also known as “painted hunting dog” and “cape hunting dog”, both domestic dogs and wild dogs both descended from wolves but unlike domestic dogs, wild dogs only have 4 toes and, their appearances is made of long legs and large rounded ears which they use to pick up the minutest of sound. Every dog’s coat has a unique pattern and that allows for the individual recognition of each animal.
Wild dogs have a special social structure, they have an alpha breeding pair, and the other adults help rear the puppies once they are born. Once the litter of pups is born, they take priority over everyone in the pack including the alphas, at the beginning the pups are fed by other members of the pack through regurgitating meat and once they are old enough they are taken to a carcass and are given first choice while everyone waits for them to finish feeding on the kill. They are also extremely loyal to each member of the pack, when one wild dog becomes ill or injured, the rest of the pack cares for them and brings them food until the recover.
Wild dogs are usually nomads, and they travel up to 50km in a day, they have a huge territory ranging from 500 to 900 square kilometers, and they only stay in one place, when they have a small litter with them.
Unlike other predators wild dogs have a higher success rate when it comes to hunting prey, they hunt at dusk and dawn and they are successful because they communicate with one another letting each other know where they are and where the prey is. Once they select their target to hunt, they will separate the herd and the pack will give chase to one individual. Their hunting is similar to a rally running team, the wild dog at the front will pull back as he grows tired and a dog from the back will take his place. Eventually the prey becomes exhausted and it’s then that they easily bring it down.
Wild dogs are classified as endangered, and humans are one of the reason why there is only about 5000 wild dogs left. Farmers kill wild dogs because they see them as pests who kill their livestock, they would even poison their dens and their inhabitants inside. Wild dogs are also often caught in snares placed by poachers trying to catch other animals. The main reason why their population declines is due to disease such as rabies contracted from domestic animals.
The alpha pair in a pack is monogamous, and they are usually the only ones that breed in the pack, other pairs do sometimes breed but their litter is often killed or adopted by the alpha pair. A litter big and is made up of 12 puppies or more.
Unlike other animal group the male wild dog will stay with the pack while females will travel long distances to find a mate, which prevents inbreeding among the pack.
Wild dogs used to be found across the African continent, but are now limited to counties in the south and east of Africa. There are five subspecies of wild dog in Africa, 1) The cape wild dog, 2) The East African wild dog, 3)the West African wild dog, 4) the Chadian wild dog and 5) Somali wild dog.
They can’t be domesticated, throughout the years people have attempted to tame wild dog bit it was never successful. Wild dogs don’t display traits as your beloved dog and most probably never will.
Wild dogs have a few natural enemies, lions being their main threat, that is why you will hardly see wild dogs in the same area which has a high density of lions. Hyenas will try steal their kill but they won’t try kill an adult wild dog. Wild dogs life expectancy is very low with few of them getting to exceed six years of age.
From 2009 there was hardly any wild dogs in the northern section of the Kruger and Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) decided in 2017 to introduce a pack of eight wild dogs in area around Shingwedzi.
You can read our top 5 roads for spotting wild dogs at the Kruger here.