ABOUT THE PAINTED DOG (Lycaon pictus)
The name Painted Dog is derived from the Latin name for the species Lycaon pictus. African Wild Dog is the more commonly used name, but this has a negative connotation and gives the impression of a feral species, failing to recognize the unique and ancient ancestry of the animal.
Painted Dogs are a highly nomadic species that, like many top predators, have been regarded as vermin and eradicated accordingly. Their numbers have dropped dramatically from over 300,000 in 1900 to approximately 3,000 today. They have vanished from 25 of the 39 countries forming their historical range and are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature & Natural Resources (IUCN) list of endangered species. Zimbabwe contains one of the last viable dog populations and the main threats to their survival today are snares intended for other species, disease, and road traffic accidents.
Painted Dogs are also highly social. They are cooperative hunters and the loss of even one pack member can have a devastating effect on the entire pack. Every member of the pack is involved in caring for pups once they leave the den and even sick and injured pack members are fed and cared for by their companions.
Following are some key facts about the Painted Dog:
- 300,000 – estimated dog numbers in 1900.
- 3,000 – estimated dog numbers today (exterminated from 25 of the 39 countries which were formerly part of their range).
- Average range 550-800 square miles (up to 1500 square miles in the Kalahari Desert, Botswana).
- Speed: 37-40 miles per hour (in bursts).
- Average height at shoulder 24-31 inches.
- Average weight 37-80 kilograms.
- Lifespan 11 years in the wild.
- Painted Dogs are unusual in that it is the males in a pack which are genetically related.
- Females disperse from natal pack at 3 years of age in order to breed.
- Pack contains one dominant male and usually only one breeding female.
- One litter per year is normal although there may be a second if the first litter dies.
- 60-80 days gestation period. Average litter size 7-10 pups (up to 14/15 possible).
- One third of pups die in first year. Pups leave den at 3 months, mature at 1 year and become sexually active at 12-18 months.
- Male: female ratio in pack is 6:4.