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Episode 91: A Masterpiece, the African Painted Dog

The African Painted Dog, or African Wild Dog, is heading towards extinction. Human pressure has fragmented this species into 39 small pockets throughout Africa. One of the most endearing animals, African Painted Dogs are incredibly intelligent and exhibit extraordinary behaviors. This is a special one, enjoy.

African Painted Dog History

Surprisingly, the African Painted Dog is a very distant relative to domestic dogs, and their close relatives the wolf. These wild canids evolved over 2 million years ago in Africa.

Canids are a large and exciting family to study. With 36 different species of wolves, foxes, dogs and jackals, this is quite a diverse family. These animals first evolved in North America over 35 million years ago. It was not until 7 or 8 million years ago did, they first migrate into Asia, and subsequently into Europe and Africa. The oldest known fossil evidence of the African Painted Dog dates back 200,000 years ago and was found in modern Israel.

Within the African Painted Dog, there are 5 subspecies:

  • Cape Wild Dog
  • East African Wild Dog
  • West African Wild Dog
  • Chad Wild Dog
  • Somali Wild Dog

The major pressure facing the African Painted Dog is habitat fragmentation and human/wildlife conflict. These animals have been slowly declining towards extinction for the past 20 years and need our help if they are to survive.

African Painted Dog Behavior

The most amazing facts to come out of this episode is these animals’ behaviors. They have a rich assortment of complex family and hunting behaviors that still mystify us. Much is to be learned from them and their cooperative rearing of the young and just how they hunt. An incredible clip played many years ago by the Planet Earth film crew just highlights how complex and how well these animals work together when hunting.

The video can be seen HERE

The African Painted Dog is about the size of any moderate sized domestic dog, just leaner and taller. The male can stand 30 inches (75 cm) at the shoulder and be 56 inches (150 cm) long nose to tail. They can weigh up to 75 lbs. (35 kg). These dogs live up to 10 years in the wild. They also mate for life and are similar to other packs of wild canids, with an alpha female and an alpha male as the breeding pair in a pack.

African Painted Dog Conservation

The African Painted Dog remains classified as Endangered with an adult population of only 1400 individuals. The total population in the world does not exceed 6700 animals. They are severely fragmented across all of Africa and are facing some difficult challenges. Researchers, particularly in South Africa, are working hard on establishing new areas for these animals.

Organizations to Support

African Wildlife Foundation

Lincoln Park Zoo

May 21, 2019
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