Lycaon pictus : African Wild Dog

There are dogs and then there are animals that are members of the larger family “canidae” to which wolves, dogs, jackals, foxes, and coyotes belong. The African Wild Dog, sometimes called the Painted Dog, while a canidae is not a true dog like the domesticated dogs we live with.

In other words, they do not make good potential pets any more than a wolf or jackal does. But they are very handsome pack animals that live in family groups.

Unlike some members of the canidae family, it is the female of the African Wild Dog pack that leaves the pack they are born into, while the males stay in the pack they are born into. The young females search for packs which do not have actively breeding females currently in them.

I’ve also read that at times a pack of males will travel separately and encounter a pack of females…there has been speculation that a pack may break up if the pack leaders die; however, it has been observed that the death of the leaders is just as likely to lead to new leaders rising from the pack ranks.

The other observation I’ve read that I find interesting about this animal’s behavior is that they have evolved to avoid fighting with each other and are more likely to beg for food at the site of a kill than fight each other for the kill.

The pack also allows the younger hunting members to eat first, rather than making them wait until the alpha members of the pack have eaten.

 Hunting members of the pack will also go back to those animals that are not in the hunt — the young, the pack member(s) that are watching the young, the elderly/infirm and regurgitate food to share with them.

When I read these descriptions of behavior I am reminded of much of the behavior I observe in the domestic members of the canidae family who live with me and that I’ve known. The willingness to share with other members of the pack.

The more inquisitive and sometimes forthright tendencies of females. The willingness of other members of the family-pack to watch over and play with puppies. It’s interesting to me the similarities between these very different members of the large canidae family.

And of course, I cannot help but note that the African Wild Dog,  is a lovely animal. Physical beauty — a feature that I also appreciate in my own four legged friends who are currently stretched out around me in the living room.

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