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African wild dogs playing
© Anton Kruger

Many will know that Africa’s wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) require vast areas to roam, hunt cooperatively to run down their prey and regurgitate food for pups and other pack members. But there are other remarkable facts about these beautiful animals that perhaps you didn’t know.

Here are 5 fascinating facts about African wild dogs:

1. Wild dogs have only four toes on each foot, lacking the fifth (dewclaw) that other dogs have on the front foot (and sometimes also on the back foot).

2. Once wild dogs reach maturity it is the females that leave the pack to seek out other breeding opportunities, while the males stay behind to form the nucleus of the pack.

3. Pups that are old enough to eat solid food are given priority at a kill – even over the dominant pair.

4. Wild dogs have specially adapted teeth, different to other canids, to enable the rapid shredding of carcasses and therefore lessen the chance of having their meals stolen by other predators.

5. Wild dog fur differs from other canids – they have stiff bristle-hairs and no underfur. They lose their fur as they age, with very old dogs being almost naked.

And did you know? Research has revealed that the decision by a group of African wild dogs to get up from rest and hit the road to hunt as a collective pack is a democratic one, albeit with a twist. Votes are cast by way of sneezes. Read more about how wild dogs vote with sneezes here.

African wild dog puppy
© Thea Felmore

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