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Painted Dog Conservation: Protect Fido’s Feral Cousins

Fetch yourself a brighter smile knowing that every Cocofloss 2-Piece Painted Dog Ornament Set includes a $2 donation to Painted Dog Conservation. Learn more about this Zimbabwe-based nonprofit and the grrr-ific species it protects below.


You’re on an African safari. Golden stretches of grasslands and acacia trees lie before your open-air vehicle. You’ve been fortunate enough to see lions, zebras, elephants, and giraffes. But one of the continent’s most rare and gorgeous species eludes you: the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), aka “the painted wolf” or “the painted dog.” After all, less than 7,000 of these canine critters remain in all of the world, qualifying them as an endangered species on the ICUN Red List.    



Why We’re Wild for Painted Dogs

Painted dogs live only on the African continent, mostly in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. This distant relative of the domestic pooch sports satellite dish–shaped ears; a bushy, cream-tipped tail; and a dappled caramel, black, red, and cream coat that gives the animal its artistic name. 

Here are a few more pawsome facts about this striking species:

Furry fingerprints

Every painted dog pup dons a distinctly patterned coat. The mottled colors help the dogs stay hidden while they hunt and also provide camouflage from predators such as lions or hyenas.

An Impala a Day Keeps the Hunger Away

Dinnertime for painted dogs means munching on medium-sized antelope such as kudu, impala, and duiker. To thrive, a 15-member pack needs to eat the equivalent of around one impala per day.

Don’t Call Me “Hyena”

Though painted dogs and hyenas may look slightly similar with their round ears and spotted coats, they are far apart on the taxonomy chart. Painted dogs, which are part of the Canidae family, are more closely related to wolves, jackals, coyotes, and our fluffy pets who play fetch; while hyenas belong to their own family, Hyaenidae.

Most Pupular Parent 

Painted dogs live in matriarchal societies, with packs of up to 30 members all answering to an alpha female.

Twins Times 10

The top-dog female gives birth to a litter of 2 to 20 pups, which are a wee 11 ounces at birth. They begin to wean at around 5 weeks. 

Caring Canines

Painted dogs share pup-sitting duties; use their large, Mickey Mouse–like ears and a range of bird-like calls and eerie howls to communicate; and are one of only a few mammals to care for their sick and injured. 

“Achoo” if You Do 

Forget ballots. These democratic dogs vote by sneezing! After making camp, painted dogs will hold “social rallies” to make decisions as a group. The more that members of the pack “achoo,” the more likely it is that the dogs will head off to hunt. 

Gnaw on This

According to National Geographic, “Greater London is home to 8.8 million people, but an area that size could only support one or two African wild dog packs.”


Why Painted Dogs Are Panting for Our Help

Painted dogs once loped across the land in 39 countries, but they’re now found in just 14. Though they occasionally become breakfast for hyenas or lions, these stealthy canine predators have an even more dangerous animal to fear: humans.

As human populations grow and expand into previously wild areas, painted dogs have lost great swathes of their habitat. Now their territories are disjointed or criss-crossed by deadly roads, making painted dogs key candidates to benefit from wildlife corridors.

With human homes so close by, diseases (such as rabies and distemper) from domestic pets, can spread into painted dog families and wipe out a pack. Also, snares set by people to catch antelope for the bushmeat” trade can entangle the painted pups.

Sadly, myths about painted dogs as indiscriminate, malicious hunters may be one of their biggest threats. Many local landowners want to remove, shoot, or poison them due to this misinformation. Farmers also fear that painted dogs will harm their livestock — a rare occurrence that can be mitigated when farmers receive training in livestock management techniques.



Paws Up for Painted Dog Conservation

Based in Zimbabwe, one of the last strongholds for painted dogs, the nonprofit Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) has developed a conservation model that aims to help not only painted dogs, but also local human communities. That’s why Cocofloss has chosen to donate a portion of every purchase of our 2-Piece Painted Dog Ornament Set to PDC. 

Read on to see how PDC does doggone good work:

 • As the largest employer in the area, PDC has hired more than 60 people from local villages to run their conservation programs andeducation and outreach programs.  

• PDC monitors radio-collared dogs to better understand how to keep them healthy and safe. If a pack enters a high-poaching area, PDC sends an anti-poaching unit their way to clear snares. 

• The PDC rehabilitation facility treats sick, orphaned, or injured dogs and also houses threatened packs until they can be relocated to a safer location.

• In 2019, PDC removed 2,462 bushmeat snares and patrolled 14,565 miles on foot.

• Every year, PDC hosts nearly 1,000 children at a free, four-day camp that allows them to get up close with painted dogs at the rehabilitation facility and learn first-hand about the importance of conservation. They also visit local schools to engage kids with their work and dispel myths about the dogs.



• PDC states, “Gender equality and female empowerment is important to us; we work to support, develop, and promote women’s groups based around sustainable natural resource use and management, and offer ways to empower women through garden projects and income derived from sales.”

• 700 painted dogs now live in Zimbabwe, an increase of 300 since PDC began its work. This number is especially significant given that the species’ population is in global decline.


Raise the Woof!

This holiday season, your friends will roll over for the Cocofloss 2-Piece Painted Dog Ornament Set! It’s a pawsome gift that also benefits Painted Dog Conservation. If you’d like to further support their work, please visit painteddog.org/donate.


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