Tail length: 30-44 cm
Shoulder height: 60-75 cm
- Though also known as the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog or ornate wolf; the name painted dog has been recently adopted by conservation and zoological groups to better identify it as a uniquely classified species of canine that is neither a breed of wolf or domestic dog.
- The scientific name Lycaon pictus means "painted wolf" and refers to the irregular mottled brown, black, white, red and yellow coat pattern of the dogs.
- Painted dogs lack dew claws and are the only dog species with four toes per foot.
- Painted dogs make squeaks, chirps, twittering and bell like sounds to communicate with each other. However, they do not howl like wolves or domestic dogs.
PDPI Conservation Action
Although these unique social animals are charismatic and could be popular conservation targets, the species is currently in decline throughout its range due to a number of factors including human-wildlife conflict related to misperceptions about the dogs' threat to humans and livestock and incidental mortality from snares, roads, and disease.
With their numbers spread out in small pockets mainly in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa, immediate conservation action to protect surviving packs has become a top priority. With a current population of 500 individuals, the painted dog population in Zimbabwe makes up one of the last remaining strongholds. Two of the regions in Zimbabwe with the greatest potential to support a growing painted dog population are the Hwange National Park and Victoria Falls area. Despite an abundance of ecological resources, painted dogs in these vicinities have faced tremendous difficulty with continued threats from human-induced fatality resulting from snare wire entrapment and vehicle collisions. There is an immediate need for conservation support, but most people do not know much about painted dogs and even wildlife conservation audiences are sometimes unaware of their status or major threats facing wild populations.
The Painted Dog Protection Initiative (PDPI) aims to reduce incidental mortality of dogs by facilitating the re-design and manufacturing of effective anti-snare, reflective collars, and to increase awareness of the species by expanding educational efforts. To achieve these goals, we've partnered with the in situ conservation groups Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) and Painted Dog Research Trust (PDRT) in Zimbabwe and the Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN) in the United States, and are collaborating with the Houston Zoo and Dogs for Conservation. Working with these partners, PDPI has aimed to increase international awareness and conservation support for the species by creating an educational/fundraising campaign for painted dogs through zoo related events, through the establishment of a painted dog conservation website and social media presence, and by utilizing the proceeds of the zoo events and online outreach/marketing to fund the research, re-design, and implementation of enhanced anti-snare and reflective collars.