Top 10 Most Dangerous Wild Dogs: Tanukis, Dingoes, and More
Sometime between 16 and 32 thousand years ago, dogs were domesticated from wild wolves. For the last 10,000 years, keeping domesticated dogs as companions has been a common practice across many cultures. Despite this, there still remain hundreds of dog breeds that are either semi-domesticated or entirely wild—this article lists 10 of the most dangerous.
The World's Most Dangerous Wild Dogs
- African Wild Dog
- Asiatic Wild Dog
- Australian Dingo
- New Guinea Singing Dog
- Sri Lankan Yala Dog
- Indochina Dingo
- Hierran Wolfdog
- Amazon Short-Eared Dog
- Tanuki (Raccoon Dog)
- Bush Dog
1. African Wild Dog
African wild dogs (also known as cape wild dogs, African hunting dogs, bat-ear dogs, African painted dogs, and painted wolves) are medium-sized canines from sub-Saharan Africa. They are social animals and tend to live in a pack.
African wild dogs are solidly built and extremely athletic. They are intelligent hunters and can run at a speed of up to 41 mph for 10 to 60 minutes at a time. When pack-hunting, a male dog makes the first attack by grabbing a prey animal by the nose. The pack then joins in, usually killing their prey in under five minutes. When hunting larger prey (e.g. wildebeests, warthogs), however, an African wild dog pack may struggle for 30 minutes or more to take an animal down.
African Wild Dog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Sub-Saharan Africa
Height: 24–30 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 40–79 lbs
Lifespan: About 11 years
2. Asiatic Wild Dog
Asiatic wild dogs (also known as dholes, red dogs, and mountain wolves) are undomesticated canines native to India and other Central and South Asian countries. They are medium-sized, athletic, and very physically hardy. They tend to live in large packs and are said to resemble a mix between dogs and foxes. Genetic studies have determined, however, that these animals did not evolve from foxes or domestic dogs.
Depending on their climate, dholes can be smooth-coated or hairy. Those that inhabit the Indian Himalayan region tend to have thicker, coarser coats, while Central and South Indian dholes usually display a smoother coat. This species has a unique method of marking its territory—males do "handstands" to urinate on tree trunks within their range.
Dholes are formidable hunters that can take down prey up to 10 times their own size. They can run up to 34 miles per hour, jump up to six feet high, and climb certain trees. They are social animals and frequently communicate using a melodious howl. Pups are fed first after hunts and are cared for by both male and female adults.
Asiatic Wild Dog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: India, Central and South Asia
Height: 17–22 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 22–46 lbs
Lifespan: About 10 years
3. Australian Dingo
Australian dingos have been described as a wolf in the form of a dog. Their origin is not clear, but many experts believe they began as a mix between wolves and primitive domestic dogs brought to Australia from Asian countries.
In the wild, they live in packs and feed on both scavenged meat and live prey. They are naturally very healthy, athletic, and sturdy. Despite being wild animals, they are friendly when domesticated and are sometimes kept as pets.
Australian Dingo Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Australia
Height: 23 inches at the shoulder on average
Weight: 29–44 lbs
Lifespan: 15–20 years
4. New Guinea Singing Dog
The New Guinea singing dog inhabits the tropical cloud-forests of the island for which it is named. Notorious for its unique vocalizations, the singing dog communicates using a distinctive howl that increases in frequency throughout its duration. This breed is small to medium-sized compared to other wild canids, but it is still quite hardy and very active.
Singing dogs have the capability to climb trees and can also turn their heads a full 180 degrees toward their backside. They hunt in packs like other wild dogs, but most live in pairs rather than large groups.
New Guinea Singing Dog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: New Guinea
Height: 12–18 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 20–31 lbs
Lifespan: 15–20 years
5. Sri Lankan Yala Dog
Sri Lankan Yala Dogs live around the Yala National Park area. Their origins are mysterious, but some believe they are a mix between Sri Lankan golden jackals and Sri Lankan primitive dogs. The Yala dogs have been observed living and interacting with golden jackals inside the National Park.
Sri Lankan Yala Dog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Yala National Park area, Sri Lanka
Height: 17–22 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 30–55 lbs
Lifespan: No data available
6. Indochina Dingo
Dingo Indochina is a primitive, semi-wild dog breed that originated in the mountainous regions of Vietnam. They were developed purposefully by locals to protect livestock and aid in hunting wild boar and other food animals. Despite their relationship with humans, they are still considered primitive dogs and are yet not domesticated.
Dingo Indochina Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Taiwan
Height: 15–20 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 26–44 lbs
Lifespan: 10–14 years
7. Hierran Wolfdog
Hierran wolfdogs are an ancient breed. Their origin is not clear, but it's commonly believed that they originated on the Canary Islands in Spain. They resemble a small wolf and have been used as herding dogs despite their designation as a "wild" breed. Compared to other wild canines, they are medium-sized, healthy, active, and athletic. As companions, Hierran Wolf-dogs are loyal and intelligent, but they are known to act reserved toward strangers and other pets.
Hierran Wolfdog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Canary Islands, Spain
Height: 20–22 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 40–48 lbs
Lifespan: 12–14 years
8. Amazon Short-Eared Dog
Short-eared dogs (also known as short-eared Zorros and small-eared dogs) are a lesser-known, relatively rare breed native to the Amazon rainforest in South America. Their social structure, mating habits, and lifespan are similar to those of domestic dogs. They were first studied in 1984 in Panama by German biologist Sigi Weisel and a Panamanian local from Embera–Wounaan group.
Amazonian Short-Eared Dog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Amazon rainforest, South America
Height: Average 13 inches at the shoulder
Weight: 20–22 lbs
9. Tanuki (Raccoon Dog)
The origin of tanuki, or raccoon dogs, is not known. A Japanese study of fossil deposits found in Tochigi Prefecture suggested this species may have been present since the Pleistocene era (between 2.5 million and 11 thousand years ago). Despite looking very similar to North American raccoons, tanuki are thought to have evolved independently.
While most raccoon dogs are wild, a woman in England named June Lincoln adopted a four-month-old raccoon dog pup that turned out to be a perfect family pet. An interview with June in the Daily Mail quoted her as saying “he is a dog but his [closest] relative is a type of fox, so stealing is in his nature . . . while he is generally well behaved, it has been impossible to teach him not to steal.” Bandit, June's tanuki, reportedly walks on a leash like a dog and seems to get along with June’s two other pet dogs.
Tanuki (Raccoon Dog) Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Japan
Height: 18–24 inches
Weight: 9–13 lbs during summer, up to 22 lbs during winter
Lifespan: 3–8 years
10. Bush Dog
Bush dogs are small, rare, wild canines that aren't particularly well-known. Their origin is unclear, but they are now present in Panama and other parts of Central America, east of the Andes in South America, and as far south as central Bolivia, Paraguay, and southern Brazil.
Bush dogs are very unique-looking—they have short legs, a short bushy tail, a rounded muzzle, erected ears, and squat body. Like dholes, these dogs have been observed marking their territory on tree trunks while in a "handstand" position.
Bush Dog Quick Facts
Area of Origin: Central and South America
Height: 8–12 inches
Weight: 11–18 lbs
Lifespan: Up to 10 years in captivity, natural lifespan unknown
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