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The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the cape hunting dog, African hunting dog, or African painted dog, is one of the world’s most social and distinctive canids. The short, wiry coat is coloured in blotches of yellow, grey, black and white and gave rise to the wild dog’s scientific name of Lycaon pictus, meaning ‘painted wolf-like animal’ in Greek. The hair is short on the limbs and body and longer on the neck. Each cape hunting dog has a unique colouration pattern, and this is used by researchers to identify individuals. The body is thin and muscular, the tail is bushy with a white tip and the legs are long. Males are slightly larger than females. Unlike the other canid species there are only four, rather than five, toes on the front feet. The cape hunting dog has large, rounded ears, which probably help with heat loss as well as keeping track of pack members by picking up long distance vocal signals. Cape hunting dogs hunt in groups and can bring down wildebeest weighing up to 250 kg! On average, the female cape hunting dog gives birth to 10 pups, which is the largest average litter size of any dog. Cape hunting dogs form packs of 2 to 27 individuals, but only the dominant male and female breed.



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