A-z - Animals

10 wild dogs

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key point

  • Wild dogs are generally divided into dogs, coyotes, foxes, wolves, jackals, and wild dogs.
  • Wild dogs are not domesticated
  • Wild dogs live in groups and lead a nomadic life

For those of us used to domesticated dog breeds, it can be hard to think of dogs as wild. But they exist, and there are even several different varieties. With so many different types of dingoes, here are facts about the most common, well-known or wide-ranging dingoes, as well as facts about big, small and rare dingoes. Read on to learn more about the different types of wild dogs from around the world.

african wild dog

Types of Dingo
One of the most endangered mammals in the world, the African wild dog can be recognized by its long legs and irregular fur pattern.

©iStock.com/Ondrej Prosicky

Also known as the African Hound, Cape Hound or Painted Dog, the scientific name ( Lycaon pictus ) means "painted wolf". Refers to its mottled coat color pattern. Native to the grasslands, forests, and deserts of sub-Saharan Africa, this canid is the only extant member of the genus Wolfdog. The African wild dog is the most efficient hunter of all large carnivores, with a success rate of 80 percent or more. Unlike the more common canis, it had highly specialized teeth adapted to a hypercarnivorous diet and lacked dewclaws. It is the largest wild canid in Africa and the second largest in the world. In terms of prey, it targets several African ruminants, warthogs, hares, cane rats and insects. Although rare these days, it is one of the most dangerous wild dogs.

bush dog

Types of Dingo
A captive bush dog at the Sables Zoo in Sables d'Olonne, France.

©iStock.com/Christian Decout

The bush dog is a small wild canid of Central and South America, related to the maned wolf and the African wild dog. It is also the only extant species of the genus Speothos. It has long, soft brown fur with a reddish tinge, a bushy tail, and a dark belly. It has short legs, a short nose, and small ears. Like wild dogs and African wild dogs, its carnivorous diet has a unique dental formula that includes all large rodents such as capybaras, agouti and jaguars. It cannot be bred with other canids to produce fertile hybrids. The three recognized subspecies are the South American Bushdog, the Panamanian Bushdog, and the Southern Bushdog. It is one of the most dangerous wild dogs, although it is now rare.

dingo

Types of Dingo
The dingo (Canis familiaris dingo, Canis familiaris, Canis dingo or Canis lupus dingo) is a legendary dog of prehistoric ancestry in Australia.

© iStock.com/Andrew Haytham

The Dingo is an ancient breed of dog native to Australia, introduced to the country by seamen about 4,500 years ago. Although its scientific name is Canis lupus dingo , its taxonomic classification varies from taxonomy to taxonomy. There is no consensus as to whether it is a wolf, a primitive dog, the missing link between wolves and domestic dogs, half wolf, half dog, or a distinct species. Whether it is the true ancestor of the modern domestic dog is also debated. However, the facts about genetic testing show that it is related to the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog and the New Guinea Singing Dog, whose lineage diverged very early from the lineage that led to the modern domestic dog.

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This medium-sized canine has a cream, black and tan, or tan coat with a wedge-shaped head. 80% of its diet consists of wombats, mice, rabbits, opossums, kangaroos, wallabies, geese and cattle. For Aboriginal Australians, dingoes were used as camping dogs, living thermoses and hunting aids, their scalps were traded for currency, their pelts were traded for traditional clothing and their teeth were used for adornment. Today, it is considered a pest by livestock owners and is one of the most dangerous wild dogs. Shiba Inu are similar to wild dogs, but Shiba Inu are fully domesticated while wild dogs are not.

maned wolf

Types of Dingo
The maned wolf is the largest canid in South America and looks more like a long-legged fox than a wolf.

©Vladimir Wrangel/Shutterstock.com

Another wild canine species in South America, the maned wolf is not named as a wolf, and its body color is not a fox. It is unique. It is the only species of the genus Chrysocyon , which means "golden dog". It is also the largest species in South America and the tallest in the world. In appearance, it has a reddish feathery tail and long, thin black legs. Like some other wild canids, it is nocturnal, but its diet is omnivorous rather than carnivorous, eating small and medium animals as well as fruit, sugarcane and tubers. It makes its home in open and semi-open habitats, especially grasslands. The name "maned wolf" refers to the mane on the back of its neck. "Skunk wolf" is its nickname, referring to the strong scent of its territory markings. It is rare now.

red wolf

Types of Dingo
A red wolf roams the Sewee Center in South Carolina.

©iStock.com/cmicah

Native to the southeastern United States, the red wolf is a close relative of the eastern wolf. Physiologically, it is a hybrid of a gray wolf and a coyote, and there is no consensus on its taxonomic classification. In its original range of the south-central and northern United States, it was nearly extinct due to interbreeding with coyotes, habitat loss, and predator control programs. It is rare now. The wild canine was an important figure in the precolonial Cherokee spirituality, and the Cherokee avoided killing it lest it anger its fellows.

gray wolf

Types of Dingo
Gray wolves from the Wapiti Lake Pack prepare to cross the road in Yellowstone National Park.

©iStock.com/mtnmichelle

Gray wolf is the model species of wolf, with more than 30 subspecies. It is native to North America and Eurasia. The largest canid in the family Canidae is known for hunting large prey in groups cooperatively, and the nuclear family, with its social structure headed by a male and a female, is the ancestor of the domestic dog. It is related to the golden jackal and coyote, and can be crossed to produce fertile hybrids, such as the coyote. In comparison, the Mexican wolf is a small species.

arctic fox

Types of Dingo
Arctic foxes have a keen sense of smell and can spot lemmings in their dens under the snow.

© iStock.com/MikeLane45

Also known as the snow fox, arctic fox or arctic fox, this wild canid is native to the Arctic and makes its home in the tundra, where it lives in underground burrows. Arctic foxes are incredibly cute and delicate. However, it is strong enough to withstand some of the coldest temperatures. The thick, shaggy fur, large fluffy tail, and rounded body provide warmth and prevent loss of body heat, while its white color provides camouflage. Its diet is primarily carnivorous, with canids eating waterfowl, seabirds, fish, ringed seal pups, voles, and lemmings, as well as carrion, insects, and other small invertebrates, seaweed, and berries.

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red fox

Types of Dingo
Red foxes have excellent hearing — they can hear rodents digging for miles underground.

©iStock.com/William Chua

One of the natural enemies of the arctic fox, the red fox is the largest of the true foxes, with 12 species in total, while the Bengal and fennec foxes are smaller. Like other foxes, it lives in underground burrows, has whiskers on its face and legs, and does not chew its food, but tears it into small pieces. Its dog-like features, bushy tail, and high-pitched courtship call make it the most famous fox. As a nocturnal canid, its primary prey are small rodents, which it will swoop upon. It is a common target for pest control, fur, and sport, and its tail is clipped and used as a trophy, called a "brush."

Jackal

Types of Dingo
An adult black-backed jackal in the Savuti area of Chobe National Park, Botswana.

©iStock.com/StuPorts

The term "jackal" refers to one of three subspecies: the golden or common jackal in Asia and south-central Europe, and the black or silver-backed and side-striped jackal in sub-Saharan Africa. Golden jackals live in dry grasslands, deserts and open savannahs, black-backed jackals live in woodlands and savannahs, and side-striped jackals live in mountains, bushes, swamps and savannahs. Jackals are related to coyotes. It can run at speeds up to 9.9 mph.

As a nocturnal predator, it is an opportunistic omnivore, eating small mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, carrion, insects, fruit, and plants. Each jackal family has its own call, and the side-striped jackal can hoot like an owl. Like coyotes and foxes, the canids were not only opportunistic carnivores, but were also considered intelligent and magical in myth and legend. It is also present in superstitions about death and evil spirits. As a literary device, the jackal symbolizes abandonment, loneliness and desolation.

Coyotes

Types of Dingo
Opportunistic coyotes will take advantage of pet food, garbage, and other food discards from humans, especially in urban environments.

©iStock.com/jamesvancouver

Coyotes are canids native to North America. It is smaller than its close relatives, the wolf, the eastern wolf, and the red wolf, and larger than the golden jackal. Although it is more predatory than the golden jackal, its ecological niche is very similar. There are 19 recognized coyote subspecies. Predominantly carnivorous, its diet consists of invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, rodents, hares, rabbits, and deer, with occasional fruits and vegetables.

Although the gray wolf is one of its threats, it sometimes breeds with the eastern wolf, red wolf, or gray wolf to produce the wolf wolf. It is also sometimes bred with dogs to produce coydogs. The name "coyote" comes from an Aboriginal word meaning "barking dog" and it does sound similar to a dog's, but there are about 12 different barks. It was fast, reaching speeds of up to 40 mph, and was an excellent swimmer.

Not only does it live in the wild, it has also adapted to cities and suburbs. Like foxes, it is a pest, but also helps control rodent pests. Like wolves, it has similar behaviors, such as living in dens. It hunts small prey alone or in packs of larger prey, where it tiptoes and sometimes hunts with badgers, which are good diggers for the coyote's excellent hearing. In Native American folklore, it is a liar. Snow coyotes are rare in Newfoundland.

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wild dog facts

Young arctic fox looking curiously at Svalbard in summer
Arctic foxes can live 7 to 10 years.

©FloridaStock/Shutterstock.com

  • Wild dogs are the second most dangerous predator after big cats.
  • The Honshu wolf is the smallest wild dog in the world, but has been extinct since 1905 due to diseases such as rabies.
  • New Guinea singing dogs exist only in captivity.
  • Wild dogs are nomadic, a way of life that not only affects their critical status, but also means that there are no natural reserves that can easily accommodate them.
  • They made strange noises, grinned, and bowed to each other.
  • Their hunting style is to tear apart their prey as a whole.
  • They usually live in groups of 2 to 10, but can be as many as 40 or more.
  • They can run at speeds of up to 44 mph.

The different species of dingoes are generally grouped into dogs, coyotes, foxes, wolves, jackals, dingoes, and other canids. There are often several subspecies of each subspecies, depending on climate and geography. Some look primitive, while others look a lot like our modern day pets and working dogs. Even so, they can never be fully domesticated.

What is the lifespan of wild dogs?

Some species have a shorter life expectancy, such as the African wild dog (6 years) and arctic fox (7 years). Wolves, both red and gray, live an average of 10-12 years, while maned wolves and dingoes can live up to 15 years. Jackals and coyotes can also live up to 15 years. The red fox is an exception, with a life expectancy of 2-4 years in the wild and 10-12 years in captivity.

Is it normal for wild dogs to attack humans?

Wild dogs at Perth Zoo
Dingoes are known for their small size and excellent agility and flexibility. They are also great climbers.

© SeanMack/Creative Commons

Wild dogs don't usually attack humans or stalk you like prey. Fear not, because your children are not a target for these wild dogs either. However, your small outdoor pet may be at risk, especially if dingoes venture into the suburbs (think California coyotes).

That doesn't mean you shouldn't be alert and prepared when encountering wild animals. In desperate situations, some groups of animals, such as jackals and wild dogs, will attack humans, especially small children, although these animals are rarely fatal. Additionally, dingoes are more likely to bite if you happen to be near their young or their food source.

These wild dogs prefer your livestock, so if you have sheep, chickens, etc., protect them from attack.

Who will win: Dingo vs Gray Wolf

While the two dingoes are usually not geographically close together, it's still interesting to compare the two dingoes if they ever get the chance to meet. Both dingoes and gray wolves are sociable and intelligent, capable of problem solving and complex behaviors.

Gray wolves are carnivores, eating the meat of smaller animals and sometimes larger animals such as elk and deer. Dingoes, on the other hand, are omnivores, eating everything from fruit to invertebrates to small and large vertebrates. They also forage for food from dead bodies.

Both dingoes and wolves are able to move quickly and sustain them for long periods of time. However, wild dogs have an advantage in tight places because they are much smaller, more agile and flexible, and climb well. While in combat, wolves are heavier, taller, longer, and have a bigger bite. They also tend to hang out in groups of about 10 to 20 dingoes. Dingoes are often found alone or in very small groups.

In case of encounter, if the wild dogs do not escape, they will not be able to survive the attack of wolves. Wolves will win.

Here is a summary of the different types of wild dogs

  • african wild dog
  • bush dog
  • dingo
  • maned wolf
  • red wolf
  • gray wolf
  • arctic fox
  • red fox
  • Jackal
  • Coyotes

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Types of Dingo
Types of Dingo

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about the author

Heather Hall


I'm a freelance writer with 22 years of experience. I live in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by nature. When I do my daily runs, I often see herds of elk, deer, and bald eagles. I have two dogs that take me on hikes in the mountains where we see coyotes, black bears, and wild turkeys.

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