Little-Known Wild Dogs of the World: The Dhole

dhole

It should come as no surprise that we love dogs here at Mister Migs. While our products are geared only towards pet pooches, we also admire the wild cousins of our canine companions. This includes not only the widely known fox, wolf, and coyote, but also the more obscure and overlooked dhole, fennec, and bush dog. In tribute to these little-known but well-beloved canines, the Mister Migs blog will be doing a series about them. Each week we will feature a short spotlight about a wild canine that many people may never have heard of nor know much about. Finally, these little-known wild dogs of the world will get the spotlight they deserve, courtesy of Mister Migs! Part 1 - The Dhole

Though the dhole once roamed throughout Southern and Eastern Asia, today its range is confined to India and Tibet, with a few tiny fragmented populations in Himalaya, Kashmir, and Vietnam. Sometimes call the Indian wild dog, red wolf, or red dog, it's perhaps best described as a cross between a wolf and a fox in appearance, and is about the size of a border collie, weighing between twenty and fifty pounds. It has a red coat with a very luxuriant and fluffy black-tipped tail that is often half the length of their bodies. They are able to jump ten feet high in the air, and, if they have a running start, can leap a distance of twenty feet. They are even more social than wolves are, and also have much less concerns about dominance, making intra-group fighting a rare thing for them.

Even more rarely for canines, they do not use urine to mark their territories, and instead the entire pack will tend to do their business all in the same place as a sort of group restroom. But they are like wolves when it comes to being pack hunters, using their advantage in numbers and cleverness to bring down prey much larger than themselves, such as water buffalo, wild boar, deer, cattle, and even, in one case, an elephant calf. Before each hunt, they go through social rituals involving lots of nuzzling and rubbing together, and, unlike wolf packs, the pups are allowed to eat first.

They sometimes attack bears, are generally enemies with wolves, and must be careful of leopards and tigers, but once in awhile they will run in mixed-species groups with golden jackals, though this is rare. Though they do not howl or bark, they make whistling sounds and have a complex body language. Despite the fact they in fact only rarely prey on domestic livestock, mainly people kill dholes because they think they must protect their animals from them, and some tribes are also known to steal the kills that dholes have made for themselves.