The African Wild Dog

This is an amazing painting by Justin Mashora, a very talented South African artist.

The African Wild Dog is a highly endangered species and one that is very often poorly understood. However, when you take a moment to learn more about them, you come to realise what special creatures they really are. They are real team players and look after each one in the pack.

In the recent BBC Series “Dynasties” one espisode was dedicated to the African Wild Dog. If you ever have the opportunity to see this, please do so this will help you better understand the beauty of this truly wild dog. Humans have tried to domesticate the Wild Dog but have never succeeded…they are truly Wild Dogs.

Please know that by purchasing this painting you are supporting a local South African artist.

Purchase with Purpose

As we at Nwabisa African Art are very concerned about Africa, its People, its Wildlife and general wellbeing, we will donate a part of the proceeds of the sale of this painting to the Painted Dog Conservation program, aimed at supporting the conservation of this beautiful creature.

The African wild dog

The highly endangered Painted dog (African Wild Dog) only has four remaining populations in Africa, one of which is Kruger. Their survival is dependent on the pack. A wild dog by itself is not that much of a threat to other animals, but a pack is a different story. 


Having the most structured social order of the carnivores, Wild dogs live in packs led by a dominant male and female. All other members of the pack play a subordinate role to the alpha pair. They tend to shy away from areas dominated by lion and hyaena. There are an estimated 450 – 500 wild dogs in Kruger, so seeing them is a matter of luck. They can roam over long distances – up to 250 square kilometres – and may travel over 50km in a single day looking for food. They are most commonly seen in the Chobe, Moremi and some in Central Kalahari Game Reserve and the Kgalagadi.


Masters of the collective approach to hunting. A hunt begins at sunrise or sunset when the dogs perform an elaborate greeting ceremony, sniffing and licking each other, wagging their tails and twittering aloud. 

They make a range of chattering sounds and have a distinctive long-distance greeting call – a sharp Hoo – that can be heard up to four kilometres away. During the hunt itself, however, they are silent. Occasionally, they hunt at full moon.


Painted (or Wild) dogs will fan through the bush looking for a herd of antelope. More often than not, this will be impala. Once they have located a herd, the most vulnerable member is singled out – usually a female and young antelope.

A subordinate male wild dog usually starts the hunt by trying to isolate the animal from the rest of the herd. Once the target has been identified and separated, the alpha male takes over the lead of the hunt and the deadly endurance race begins. 


As high-stamina hunters, Wild dogs are capable of maintaining a 40km/h pace over five kilometres and increasing this to bursts of more than 60km/h for short distances. The pack splits up during the hunt, with some dogs trying to drive the fleeing prey in a circle towards the others.

If this fails, they press on with determination, taking it in relays to increase the pace, nipping and tearing at the fleeing victim each time it slows down. They literally run their quarry to exhaustion. Once the animal collapses, the dogs immediately begin feeding, even before their prey has died from loss of blood.


Unlike hyena, which feast noisily and chaotically, wild dogs are restrained and orderly at the kill. The young feed first, followed by the subordinate males and females, with the alpha pair eating at any time. Each dog awaits its turn, and if there is not enough food to go round, the hunt begins again.

Subordinate females support nursing wild dog females who remain at the den. They will stuff themselves with food and then go back to the den to regurgitate the remains for the mother and her young to eat.


The average litter size for the wild dog is between four and eight puppies. They suckle for the first three months of their lives before being taught to hunt.

Wild dogs hunt every day as they require more meat relative to their size than lions do. Eighty percent of their diet consists of impala, but they do attack bigger game as well, including wildebeest, kudu, waterbuck, reedbuck and sometimes zebra.

Wild dogs have often been regarded with horror by humans because of their seemingly cruel hunting techniques – death does not come quickly to the victim, which will first be run to exhaustion and then die from a loss of blood while being devoured.


Text courtesy of the  Kruger Park website with the link at the beginning of the article you can visit their website.


Other works from this artist available through Nwabisa African Art

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