Wild Dog Behaviour

Wild dogs hunt mainly medium sized antelope, focusing on wildebeest (Connochaetes taurinus), impala (Aepyceros melampus), kudu (Strepsiceros tragelaphus), gazelles (Gazella thomsonii and grantii) and warthogs (Phacochoerus aethiopicus).

They will chase larger species, such as eland and buffalo but rarely kill such prey. Wild dogs also occasionally take small prey such as hares, lizards and even eggs.

hunting dogs

On the hunt

Members of wild dog packs hunt cooperatively. By hunting together they capture prey much larger than themselves, which would not otherwise be accessible to them. Wild dogs weigh 18-34 kg, but their prey can be as large as 200 kg.

Social organisation

Wild dogs are highly social animals living in packs. Wild dog pack or group size varies considerably and may consist of as little as two dogs through to a pack of more than 50 dogs (including pups).

Cooperative breeding

hunting dogs

Most packs hold a single breeding female, though subordinates of both sexes sometimes produce offspring that are raised, particularly in large packs. All pack members help to care for the pups and for sick or injured pack members. The wild dogs dig out dens, often using old hyaena dens with several entrances, or sometimes the side of river valleys amongst rocks. Pups are born in the den, where they remain for the first three months of life. Wild dog litters number 10-11 pups on average and may rarely contain as many as 21 pups.

The mother is confined to the den while nursing and relies on other pack members to feed her at this time. They deliver food to her by regurgitation; later on, they regurgitate to the pups as well. Some pack members also "baby-sit" the pups and chase predators from the den. Reproductive success is related to pack size, and few packs with less than 4 adults raise pups to independence.

Ranging behaviour

Wild dogs have enormous home ranges much larger than would be expected on the basis of their body size. Packs are confined to relatively small areas when they are feeding young pups at a den, but outside the denning period they are truly nomadic. For example, in the Serengeti home ranges were 50-260 km during denning, but 1,500-2,000 km at other times.


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