About Painted Dogs

Painted dogs (also known as painted wolves or African wild dogs) are one of Africa’s most enigmatic yet threatened predators. They are neither dog nor wolf but a canid in a separate genus called Lycaon – a very distant cousin to our domestic pooches.

They live in packs of up to fifty adults, and can be as small as just two. The packs are led by an alpha female, who is their supreme leader and effective commander, as well as their caring mother.


Their reputation for being Africa’s most efficient predator is well deserved, and it is generally accepted that 80% of their hunts result in success. Yet unlike other predators, their kills are precise and efficient, resulting in a quick death for their unfortunate victims.

But it is not so much their hunting skills that enthral us. Their dedication to each other’s well-being and an illimitable care for their pups, demonstrates a powerful family bond where they compete with each other through submission, rather than aggression. When we watch them play with each other, we as humans find it hard to describe their interactions without resorting to the word love.

Yet their recent history has been unkind and tragic. A century ago, half a million individuals roamed the wide plains of Africa, but newly arrived colonialists degraded them to vermin and pursued a slaughter, actively encouraged by the authorities, which reduced their numbers to around 6,500 today.

While the rewards for killing painted dogs were ended in the 1970s and more recently they have become a protected species, their desperate plight continues as they succumb to painful deaths caused by snares, road kills and diseases caught off our domestic dogs.

What is more, so few outside Africa know that this incredible animal exists and most that do, don’t care. In the race to extinction they are winning; a race they never wanted to enter.

To ensure their survival, the job is twofold. First, raise their awareness globally and second, support those incredible organisation in the field working hard to save the painted wolves and support the communities around.

Together, through our support and clever initiatives, we can save the painted dog.


Nicholas Dyer 2020 - Chairman Painted Wolf Foundation