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African Painted Dogs

Not your common house dog

African painted dogs have a lot in common with domestic dogs—they like to roll in things that smell and chew on bones, and they’re highly trainable.

The ABQ BioPark Zoo’s painted dogs Digger and Moose are not house dogs, however. In fact, an alternative name for the species is the African wild dog.

Brothers Digger and Moose originated from the Bronx Zoo in New York, where they were born in 2006. They came to Albuquerque in 2009. 

Digger is the alpha male. If he doesn’t want his brother to have something, that’s the law of the land—he’ll exercise his alpha role by putting any challenger in his place. But when all is said and done, they are still brothers. African painted dogs have very tight-knit packs, and these two snooze together each night.

The two enjoy enrichment games like edible hide and seek—to get the activity going, zookeepers hide food products in the yard and the dogs use their noses to find the treats. Like any dog, they also enjoy chewing on bones—this keeps their teeth healthy.

African painted dogs are highly trainable and food-motivated. Zookeepers work with the dogs to teach them behaviors that assist in managing their daily care, like stepping on a scale to be weighed.

Our Actions Matter

African painted dogs are endangered in their native Africa because of habitat fragmentation, human persecution, and disease outbreaks. The ABQ BioPark participates in various research programs for African painted dogs, including reproductive and behavior studies. The Wildlife Conservation Society and Painted Dog Conservation are two organizations working to help save African painted dogs.

Did you know?

  • The African painted dog is the only predator that will not abandon an injured group member. Instead, they will stay with the ailing individual and nurse it back to health.
  • African painted dogs are also known as African wild dogs and African hunting dogs.
  • They have the most varied vocal range of any canid. Their high-pitched, shrill call may sound scary, but they’re just communicating with one another.
  • Unlike domestic dogs, which have five claws on each foot, African painted dogs only have four, as they lack a dew claw.
  • The species is known for its large, rounded ears.