African Painted Dog

African Painted DogOther names: African Wild Dog, Cape Hunting dog, Hunting dog
Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus
Conservation Status: Endangered
Body Length: 76–110 cm
Weight: 17–36 kg
Gestation: 69–73 days
Number of young: 6–16

Distribution: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana and Tanzania
Habitat: Plains, semi-desert, savannah, woodlands and forest

Description: The African Painted Dog has long legs and a lean body, a relatively small head, large ears, and a short broad muzzle. Its coat varies in pattern and is a mixture of black, grey, yellow and white—hence the name. The African Painted Dog has a tail 31–41 cm long with a white tip.

Diet: African Painted Dogs are carnivores and hunt large prey like wildebeest, zebra and impala.

In the wild: African Painted Dogs live in packs of 30 or more. Only the dominant male and female breed, however, the whole pack takes care of the young. Adults regurgitate their food for the pups to eat until their hunting skills develop by about 12 months.

Threats: Once widespread across Africa, they are now reduced to small, scattered populations. African Painted Dogs are killed by farmers and rangers because they are thought to kill livestock. Painted Dogs also suffer from habitat loss and diseases from domestic dogs.

At Perth Zoo: The African Painted Dog pack can be found in the African Savannah.

Perth Zoo contributes to the conservation of wild populations by supporting Painted Dog Conservation Inc and its efforts to protect this species in the wild. If you would like to help, visit the PDC Inc website at


Did you know? When Painted Dogs become old or sick they are taken care of by the pack rather than being abandoned or killed by other pack members. When the pack goes hunting and makes a kill, pups are allowed to eat first.

Download the African Painted Dog Fact Sheet (pdf).

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