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For African painted dogs, also known as wild dogs, cooperation is the name of the game and survival is the aim. Painted dogs live in large, extended families, in which all group members work together for the good of the pack. The leaders of the pack, an alpha male and female, are the only ones that breed. Instead of leaving the pack, their offspring stick around as adults and help raise their younger siblings. Painted dogs give birth to an average of 10 pups in a single litter!

Elaborate greeting ceremonies complete with leaping, face-licking, tail-wagging, and squealing are the social glue that bonds the pack together. Hunting cooperatively, painted dogs can take down prey as large as a wildebeest. The whole pack shares in the feast, even the pups and pack members that stayed behind as dogs returning from the hunt regurgitate bits of meat for them. One dog begs the other to regurgitate part of a meal by whining and licking its muzzle.

Learn more about what the Cincinnati Zoo is doing to help the African painted dog, the most endangered carnivore in Africa.

Painted Dog Valley Sponsored By:

African painted dog standing in habitat

Did You Know?

African painted dogs are one of the most successful hunters in all of Africa, catching prey 70 to 90 percent of the time.

Quick Facts

Latin Name:
Lycaon pictus

Central and Southern Africa

Savannah, woodland and semi-desert

2.5 to 4 ft

10 yrs

Zoo Location:

Primarily antelope; some warthogs, hares and small animals

Risk Status:
Species at Risk (IUCN—Endangered);