Wild Dog Types: A Complete List of All Species

Leave a comment / / Updated on: 25th September 2023

An African wild dog in the Okavango Delta, Botswana
An African wild dog in the Okavango Delta, Botswana / Thomas Retterath via Istock

Although many texts infer that only one wild dog species exists, it is essential to note that there are two individual species – the African and the Asiatic wild dogs.

These species are further divided into several subspecies.

On the one hand, the African wild dog, also called the painted dog or Cape hunting dog, is a member of the canid family native to sub-Saharan Africa.

This species is the last surviving member of the genus Lycaon.

On the other hand, the Asiatic wild dog is also called the Asian wild dog, the Indian wild dog, the whistling dog, or the dhole.

This species is native to several parts of Asia, although they existed across Asia, Europe, and North America until around 18,000 years ago.

Portrait of a Dhole or the Asiatic Wild Dog
Portrait of a Dhole or the Asiatic Wild Dog / Nimit Virdi via Getty Images

Despite belonging to the same family, African and Asiatic wild dogs have more differences than similarities.

These two species are further classified into various subspecies with distinct appearances and traits. 

In this article, you will learn more about these wild dog species, including their differences and subspecies.

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2. African Wild Dog

African wild dog
African wild dog | Ondrej Prosicky via Getty Images

The African wild dog, also called the cape hunting or the painted dog, is a canine species native to sub-Saharan Africa.

With the scientific name Lycaon pictus, the African wild dog is the only surviving member of the Lycoan genus, which is easily distinguished from other Canids by its dentition which is perfect for a hypercarnivorous diet.

Despite having over 6,000 African wild dogs living in various subpopulations, the IUCN Red List classifies the species as endangered.

African wild dogs have successfully evolved to meet their needs and adapt to their surroundings, especially concerning their coloring, which changed to improve their ability to blend in with their surroundings.

These wild dogs are easily recognized by their mottled fur with random color patterns unique to each individual.

The color of an African wild dog varies among its subspecies. Individuals differ in pattern and color.

The living subspecies of this animal include the East African wild dog, West African wild dog, Cape wild dog, and Somali wild dog.

An African wild dog opens its jaws
An African wild dog opens its jaws / Winfried Wisniewski via Getty Images

Another thing that varies according to individual African wild dogs is their size.

Although these animals vary in size, the African wild dog is generally considered one of the largest extant African canids.

The body weight of these dogs usually falls between 40 and 79 pounds, shoulder height between 24 and 30 inches, and full-body length between 28 and 44 inches.

However, the sizes of these animals may vary because of their subspecies or access to food.

The diet of African wild dogs also depends on their subspecies, as the various subspecies have different prey options native to their chosen habitats.

1. Asiatic Wild Dog

Dhole (Cuon alpinus)
Dhole (Cuon alpinus) | Banu R via Getty Images

Commonly called dhole, the Asiatic wild dog is a canid native to several parts of Asia.

Also called the Indian wild dog, red wolf, whistling dog, or mountain wolf, amongst other things, the Asiatic wild dog was more widespread around Asia, Europe, and parts of North America.

However, around 18,000 years ago, these wild dogs became more restricted to their present habitat, and with around 2,500 individuals left in the wild, the IUCN Red List also classifies this species as endangered.

Asiatic wild dogs look like gray wolves mixed with red wolves.

These wild dogs have also been described as “cat-looking” because of their slender bodies and limbs.

Like most other canids, male Asiatic wild dogs are larger than females; the average male weighs between 33 and 46 pounds, while the average female weighs between 22 and 37 pounds.

Generally, these wild dogs have reddish fur that appears lighter in the winter.

A Dhole in its habitat
A Dhole in its habitat / Rohitvarma via Wikipedia CC BY-SA 4.0

The top portions of the limbs, the belly, the flanks, the belly, and the throat are less vividly colored and have a more yellowish tone, while their foreheads and muzzles look like a mix between gray and red.

The Asiatic wild dog has more subspecies than the African wild dog, some of which include the Indian dhole, the Sumatran dhole, and the Ussuri dhole.

These wild canines’ habitat primarily depends on their subspecies, like their African ancestors.

However, these Asiatic wild dogs generally inhabit different mountainous terrains, while some live in protected parts of various parts of Asia.

The subspecies and habitats of these wild dogs also influence their food, although Asiatic wild dogs are well-known for being amiable.


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