African Wild Dog Care

The African Wild Dog, also known as the Painted Dog and scientifically as Lycaon pictus (meaning "painted wolf"), is neither a dog nor a wolf. This is a unique Canid breed that is quickly disappearing by the encroachment, activity and hunting by humans. The best way we chow can we help African Wild Dogs is to simply let them be.

African Wild Dog Breed Development

The African Wild Dog develops quickly. You should understand that as this breed is not domesticated — nor should you try to live with them! — and that the nature of their development is not like domesticated dog breeds. These pups are born from just one mother in a pack, the alpha dam, but they are raised by the entire pack. Gestation is approximately 80 days for this breed. When this unique breed's pups are born, they are much like dogs and wolves. Below are some of the milestones of the growth stages for this breed.


African Wild Dog Exercise Needs

Regardless of how they exercise in the wild, in a zoo, or in any environment, African Wild Dogs require a stupendous amount of exercise as well as space in which to do it. Running circles in a suburban back yard is nowhere near sufficient. The amount of energy these dogs expend is such that they can afford to waste it in long-distance chases, and yet they tend to have an approximate 80% success rate in their kills. The energy they require and the physical expenditure to get that food is a vicious circle: they eat a lot to feed their exercise requirements even as their exercise requirements demand they eat a lot. To illustrate these points, the African Wild Dog, despite numbering about 5,000 remaining animals, inhabits an area of more than a million square kilometers.

This is a crepuscular breed, meaning that when night falls, they retreat — and that means you have a limited time to exercise them. If in captivity, they must be restrained with extraordinary strength and measures. They will not hesitate to run after — and often catch — most anything that moves: that squirrel, your cat, the mailman. All their teeth are razor-sharp (no molars) as they are bred to kill and they are nearly impossible to train.

What exercises are best for a domesticated African Wild Dog? Leaving him be to hunt as he pleases with the pack. These dogs do not get separation anxiety. They tend to be anxious in the company of humans rather than without them. They are naturally destructive so far as humans are concerned. Although they may not be as aggressive as their parents if they are brought up by humans, they will still have several thousands of years of instinct that will override being domesticated. As such, attempts to refine the behavior of African Wild Dogs during exercise are nothing less than a waste of time. There is also the need to feed as much as possible yet to not be weighed down in a way that prevents a new meal to be taken down by faster, larger, and more menacing predators. This "morphological constraint" requires the observation of a distinct line: too little food means not enough energy to get the next meal BUT too much food means too heavy a load to carry for the chase. This is further compounded by the number in any given pack. Too few in a Painted Dog pack means each member must do much more to bring down prey, and too many means that each member gets less to eat. This may all seem complicated, but it all means weight problems from either too little (which means atrophy from not enough food) or obesity that quickly deteriorates into malnutrition — all of which requires a lot of exercise to maintain a balance.

African Wild Dog Maintenance

Does the African Wild Dog drool? Does this breed shed or cause allergic reactions by shedding, or dander, or anything? Do you really want to know?

African Wild Dogs probably don't drool much unless they have one of the many dog- or human-related diseases that have contributed to their recent demise. If they are drooling, it is most likely because they have contracted Parvo, rabies or some other such fatal disease.

These dogs are indeed hypoallergenic. Ironically, they are highly allergic to diseases that humans and domestic dog breeds suffer. In any case, being allergic to the breed of Canid is perhaps the very least of the problems you are sure to encounter should you acquire one of these Painted Dogs.

African Wild Dog Diet

If you are wondering, What do African Wild Dogs eat?, then it is most likely an academic question. While it is legal to own one, the African Wild Dog diet nevertheless makes this a dangerous animal to possess. (It is reported that there are only about 50 to 80 of them in zoos and elsewhere in the United States, and worldwide there are fewer than 5,000.) In the wild, they eat most any other small or herbivorous animal, and if domesticated, they are sure to eat any pets they can get their teeth into. It's difficult to understand how much a particular African Wild Dog will eat in a single day. A pack of African Wild Dogs can hunt, kill, and eat as many three full-sized zebras a day. They eat very quickly lest they lose their kill to other predators. As such, there is nearly never a killing bite and their prey is almost always eaten alive. If they eat grass, it is typically from the belly of the beast they are eating. As for African Wild Dog food, there is none specific to this breed. For an idea of dog food that may be used, however, the Nebraska Zoo uses Nebraska Brand Canine Diet — which is obviously a raw food diet!

There is no readily available feeding chart. What has been observed and recorded as far as they collective eating habits tends to differ by region. For instance, in South Africa, they primarily eat impalas but in Zimbabwe, the diet is only about 50% impala and 25% kudu. It is not unusual for a single pack to eat 200 pounds of meat in 15 minutes. If there are pups back at the den, they will regurgitate some of the raw meat for them upon returning home. Pups that have been domesticated are said to only be able to survive by being nursed. This can be done by a dam from the pack or, as has been proven, a human female who is lactating. One of the more peculiar African Wild Dog eating habits is to aggressively refuse a single pup begging for food. Instead, pups are fed when they beg as a group, a lesson which prepares them for hunting as a pack.

These are very active dogs who are some of the fastest-running animals on Earth and possessive of incredible stamina, and this adds up to a voracious appetite. Moreover, the volume of food they are believed to eat to sustain themselves is often measured by "belly scores." Because of this, they often look obese but it's just because they have recently eaten or may be merely storing food for puppies. The African wild dog food chain is part of a larger and complex food web, and this animal sits on the top level. This may lead to second and also academic) question: What eats African Wild Dogs? So long as they are alive, nothing, but when they do die, it's usually the other dogs.

Living Environment

Any person that attempts to keep an African Wild Dog as a pet will do so at his or her own peril. These animals simply won't be domesticated, and will intensely resist being locked up in a cage or fenced area. The only acceptable living situation for this species is in the wild--the word "wild" is part of its name, after all.

For the African Wild Dog, climate can vary. Its natural habitat is Sub-Saharan Africa, which has a pretty wide range of climates, from desert to rainforest and from semi-arid to wet--which means these animals are very hardy, and can adapt to a variety of weather conditions.