African painted dog

Scientific Name: Lycaon pictus
Irish Name: Fiamhadra

The African painted dog is a canine with long legs, big round ears and a multi-coloured mottled coat. African painted dogs are native to sub-Saharan Africa but are now only found in 20% of the geographical area they used to inhabit, mainly in southern Africa.

African painted dogs are classified as ‘endangered’ by the International Union of Conservation in Nature. Dublin Zoo has financially supported the Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe since 2009, specifically the rehab facility for orphaned and injured dogs and the Children’s Bush Camp. Dublin Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for African Painted Dogs.

African painted dog

The African painted dog is a canine with long legs, big round ears and a multi-coloured mottled coat. African painted dogs are native to sub-Saharan Africa but are now only found in 20% of the geographical area they used to inhabit, mainly in southern Africa.

African painted dogs are classified as ‘endangered’ by the International Union of Conservation in Nature. Dublin Zoo has financially supported the Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe since 2009, specifically the rehab facility for orphaned and injured dogs and the Children’s Bush Camp. Dublin Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for African Painted Dogs.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

African painted dogs are a highly adaptable species so live across a multitude of habitats including forests, grasslands, shrubs, savanna and desert. They once lived throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but have disappeared from 80% countries that they used to inhabit. They are now mainly found in southern African countries and the southern part of East Africa.

How long do they live?

9-10 years in the wild, 10-13 years in zoos.

What do they eat?

They hunt in packs twice a day at dawn and dusk, with gazelles, impalas and antelopes the preferred prey. Meat is regurgitated for the pups.

Animal Class

Mammalia

Animal Order

Carnivora

Zoo Location

African Plains

Group Name

Pack

Closest Related Species/Sister Species

Only distantly related to dogs, wolves and coyotes

Fun Facts

A big appetite

While an adult dog weighs 20-30kg the pack hunts animals that weigh on average 50kg, but also up to 200kg.

Toes

While other dogs have 5 toes, the African Painted Dog only has 4.

Happy families

Usually only the dominant male and female in a pack are breeding, but the whole pack cares for the pups.

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Family Life

African Painted Dogs live in packs of 6 to over 20 individuals with one dominant breeding pair, the alpha male and female. They are very sociable animals with frequent interactions, including sharing food and assisting weaker pack members.

Baby Name

Pup

Gestation period

69-72 days

Number of young at birth

2-20, average of 8-10 pups

Weight at birth

300 grams

Age at maturity

3 years

Size adult

Height: 65-80 cm at the shoulder
Length: 75-105 cm excl tail
Weight: 17-36 kg

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Conservation

IUCN status

African painted dogs are classified as 'endangered' by the International Union of Conservation in Nature. haned and injured dogs and the Children's Bush Camp. Dublin Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme for African painted dogs.

Current population estimate

6,600 adults with only 1,400 mature (= breeding) individuals (last assessment in 2008)

Threats

African painted dogs are under threat due to habitat loss, human-animal conflict (e.g hunting farm animals or getting caught in snares meant for other animals) and are also susceptible to diseases which are transferred from domesticated animals.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

Dublin Zoo has financially supported the Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) in Zimbabwe since 2009, specifically the rehab facility for orphaned and injured dogs and the Children's Bush Camp. Dublin Zoo also participates in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP) for African Painted Dogs.

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Most asked questions

  • Are African painted dogs dangerous?

    In general African painted dogs are wary of people and attacks are extremely rare. However, they are a predatory animal and could potentially perceive small children as prey to be pursued

  • Are African painted dogs endangered?

    African painted dogs are listed as endangered by the IUCN. There are only around 6,000 individuals left in the wild, and the population is declining.

  • Are African painted dogs related to hyenas?

    Although hyenas look very similar to dogs they are actually closer related to cats, and are not related to African painted dogs.

  • Can African painted dogs be domesticated?

    African painted dogs cannot be domesticated.

  • How big are African painted dogs?

    African painted dogs stand ca. 65-80 cm tall at the shoulder.

  • How long do African painted dogs live?

    African painted dogs live 9-10 years in the wild, and 10-13 years in zoos.

  • How many African painted dogs are left in the world

    During the last IUCN assessment the population was estimated at 6,600 and is continuing to decline.

  • What are African painted dogs?

    Although the African painted dog orginally descended from wolves, it is now only distantly related to dogs and wolves, and cannot interbreed with them.

  • What do African painted dogs eat?

    The preferred prey of the African painted dogs are Thomson gazelles, impalas and puku antelopes, but they also hunt larger prey like kudu and wildebeest.

  • What do African painted dogs look like?

    African painted dogs have long legs, big round ears and a multi-coloured mottled coat. No two dogs have the same markings.

  • Where do African painted dogs live?

    African painted dogs once lived throughout sub-Saharan Africa, but they have disappeared from 25 out of the 39 countries that they used to inhabit. They are now mainly found in southern African countries and the southern part of East Africa.

  • Why are African painted dogs endangered?

    African painted dogs travel long distances and roam across large areas of more than 700 square miles. Habitat loss means that there are fewer and fewer areas that can support substantial numbers of wild dogs, and is also leading to increased conflict with humans. African painted dogs are also susceptible to diseases which are transferred from domesticated animals, and are killed by farmers or trapped in snares that are meant for other animals.

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