African Wild Dog

African wild dog (Lycaon pictus)

Africa’s largest canid, the african wild dog is characterised by markings of brown, yellow and white blotches.



Once widespread throughout sub-saharan Africa, the numbers of wild dog have dwindled to around three thousand individuals. The remaining wild dogs can be found scattered within protected areas of Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Social structure

A highly sociable species found in packs of three too fifty with an alpha male and alpha female. Usually only the alpha pair breeds and the young are looked after by all members of the pack. Females (and some males) will leave a home pack at sexual maturity to join up with other packs or to start their own pack with males they meet up with. This prevents alpha males breeding with their offspring.

Range differentiation

There is not much difference in the species across the range.

Plains and woodland savanna. Absent from highlands and forests.

Wild dogs hunt a range of prey from steenbok to zebra. The pack will chase prey until it reaches exhaustion, then disembowelling it. The kill is incredibly quick. At times members of the pack will chase separate animals and the individuals that do not succeed will turn to help others.

Litters vary in size (can be up to twenty pups) and the young stay around the den area for up to three months. It is usually only the alpha female that breeds and the young are looked after by all members of the pack who regurgitate food from the kill for the pups. When pups are older they will follow the adults but not take part in the hunt. At a kill the young are allowed to eat first.