Can You Own An Pet African Wild Dog?

Do African wild dogs make good pets? No, they really don’t. Even though they are called dogs and belong to the canine family, these animals don’t have much in common with domestic dogs. Instead, African painted dogs are their own breed that can be compared to wolves. This article is about all the reasons why you should reconsider and better opt for another pet.

African painted dog looking into the camera

Before we dive into the topic you might ask if you can keep an African painted dog, a spotted dog, or a cape hunting dog as a pet then. I totally get you, wild African dog breeds are fascinating, yet rare among pet owners. But in this case, all these terms are just synonyms. So no, you can’t own any of them. It’s the same for jackals or hyenas either

#1 Is It Legal To Own An Pet African Wild Dog?

If you think about getting an exotic pet of any kind, this is the first question you should answer yourself. Many states and countries have laws to regulate ownership of pets that can be potentially dangerous or which are threatened themselves.

It’s no surprise, that African wild dogs belong into both categories. What you can wonder about is that are still states in the US that don’t regulate exotic pets at all, while others, like California, have very strict rules.

This is because some states let their counties or cities decide what should be law.

However, while some states ban the ownership of spotted dogs completely, the vast majority ask for a permit. That means you can own even potentially dangerous pets if you have a license.

But those licenses are hard to get and are meant to be owned by zoos and animal shelters. That being said, if you have enough money, experience, and knowledge, you can get such a license as a private person.

Before you start to research more about those permits: There are a LOT of other reasons, why you shouldn’t own an African painted dog.

#2 African Wild Dogs Aren’t Domesticated

Three African wild dogs looking for prey

African wild dogs aren’t domesticated and they will never be. Some people really think that they are just dogs who run away from their owners and live in the wild now. Nothing could be more wrong.

Actually, African wild dogs differentiate from our domestic breeds in many ways. It’s not only that their instincts are still strong, but even the physiques also aren’t the same: African painted dogs only have four toes on each leg instead of five, additionally, their legs are longer and they have rounded ears.

Of course, it might be possible to tame an African wild dog puppy if you raise it from a young age. But it’s a lot more difficult with this species than with other wild animals (also it’s almost never a good idea).

Many people who tried were bitten even by young puppies while bottle-feeding them. And when the pups get older and reach maturity they become even more aggressive.

That being said, you will always have problems with tamed wild animals. You can never be sure whether instincts kick in or not. House and litter training is difficult to impossible to achieve. Last but not least they will likely destroy your furniture if kept indoors.

Domestic pets on the other side like and need human companionship. They aren’t able to survive without our care and therefore develop strong bonds with their owners. An African painted dog will tolerate you at best.

#3 African Wild Dogs Are Dangerous Predators

African wild dogs are made for hunting. They are fast and can after their prey in a strategic way. Even though attacks or aggressive behavior towards humans is rarely reported, you’d better stay at a safe distance.

A situation can become dangerous quickly if a wild animal feels threatened or provoked. That means playing with your “pet” is always a risk. You would have to act carefully to not corner the animal or do other silly things.

Additionally, spotted dogs would be a threat to other pets like cats and dogs in your neighborhood. They can also be dangerous for visitors and local wildlife.

Watch the video below to see how cape hunting dogs go after different kinds of prey.

#4 African Wild Dogs Are Social Animals

African wild dogs don’t only hunt in groups, they are very social animals that live in packs of up to 30 individuals.

They care and nurse for injured and ill members of their pack as well as for the pups, even if those aren’t their own offspring.

For potential owners, this means that keeping one African wild dog alone isn’t a good idea. The animal will get frustrated and sad very soon. But caring for at least four wild animals as pets is even more demanding (and expensive as well).

Conspecifics provide social and mental stimulation which is obligatory. Boredom often leads to changed and destructive behavior.

#6 African Wild Dogs Roam Through Large Areas

Wild dogs roaming through Kruger nationalpark

According to the WWF, painted cape hunting dogs can run as fast as 40 mph and roam through large areas of more than 770 square miles.

I hope you can imagine what this need for movement means for your care. No backyard can ever satisfy an African wild dog. Taking such an animal for a walk is also impossible. You won’t be able to hold the leash if your pet decides to hunt whatever comes across its path.

Additionally, these animals are accustomed to the temperature and climate of sub-Saharan regions. Under 40 °F they don’t do well anymore and you would have to provide heating if you live somewhere where it’s colder.

#7 African Wild Dogs Are Endangered

Social interaction in family of African wild dogs

This species is endangered. Experts estimate that only 5,000 to 6,000 individuals are left in the wild. Even though the pet trade isn’t a common threat to spotted dogs, every individual should stay in its natural habitat.

It’s just like it is with every endangered species no matter if we talk about binturongs or leopards or African wild dogs. It’s just very unethical to own such an animal as a pet.

#8 There Are No Pet African Wild Dogs For Sale

No matter how hard you try, you won’t find an African wild dog puppy for sale. At least if you want to buy one the legal way. No stores, no breeders. If you really want to own this animal you would have to ask someone who is involved in the international pet trade.

For most people, this isn’t an option and it shouldn’t be one for you. Criminal and shady people organize the trade and aren’t someones you would want to have contact with.

Additionally, the prices would be very high because there is a certain risk involved which needs to get compensated.