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African wild dogs and hyenas have lived on the planet for hundreds of years.

While these two animals may appear to be very similar, they have very different evolutionary histories.

The African wild dog is also known as the Cape hunting dog or the painted dog.

Lycaon pictus is the scientific name that refers to its mottled, uneven coat.

African wild dog differs from the rest of the members of the dog family (Canidae) in having only four toes on each foot.

The spotted hyena is one of the many large carnivores on the African savanna.

A lot of people often regard the hyena as a scavenger, when in fact, it’s actually a predator. It is a skilled hunter and they travel in groups of up to 20 animals.

Social Organizations


African wild dogs are highly clever animals and they form extremely strong social relationships with one another.

African wild dogs are social animals that live in groups with distinct male and female dominance hierarchies. Two to twenty-seven adults and yearling puppies that form a pack.

Females, disperse from the natal group once sexually mature, which is unusual among social carnivores.

Males rarely disperse, and when they do, they’re almost always rejected by other male-dominated packs.

The puppies of wild dogs are cared for by the entire pack and are usually watched over and fed by older siblings.

During the brood season, the pack will shift their pups to a new den site, which is commonly a hole in the ground or a rock crevice.

This happens for a variety of reasons, but the most common one is to avoid other predators in the vicinity who may pose a threat to the pack and its pups.


Spotted hyenas are on the same level as certain primates in terms of social intelligence.

Hyenas form a social structure called clans and are a matriarchal social structure made up of related individuals in which a female alpha leads the clan.

These creatures scratch the ground and use an oily material secreted by their anal glands to mark their territory.

Their “latrines,” which are located far from the den, serve as another means of marking their territories. This species has polygynous mating.

Males display some kind of bowing display in an attempt to attract females before mating.

Gestation is for about 4 months, and 1-3 cubs are born inside a birthing den.

 A spotted hyena’s milk is highly rich, and cubs can go many hours without eating.

The females are solely responsible for raising the cubs. The cubs are brought to a communal den by their mother at the age of 2-6 weeks.

For roughly 8 months, the young remain completely reliant on milk before being weaned at 12-18 months. At the age of 2-3 years, they acquire maturity.

The Males depart from their birth clan around the age of two, while females stay.

Size and Description


The coat pattern of the African wild dog is uneven brown, white, and yellow patches unique to each dog.

The coat can range from smooth and short to long and shaggy, this is because the coat and pattern vary depending on the habitat.

The white-tipped tail and dark snout are the only markings that are the same on each dog.

It has broad, rounded ears that are used to communicate with other dogs as well as to regulate body temperature.

Adults usually weigh about 39.7 – 75 lbs (18 – 34 kg) and they are about 29.5 inches (75 cm) tall.

Their length is about 39.4 inches (100 cm) and they have a tail that is about 11.8-17.7 inches (30 to 45 cm).

African Wild Dog Pack vs Spotted Hyena Clan - Clash

The largest species of hyenas are the spotted hyena and they grow to a length of 4 to 5.9 feet (1.2 to 1.8 meters) and a height of 2.5 to 2.6 feet (77 to 81 cm) from paw to shoulder. They range in weight from 88 to 190 pounds (40 to 86 kg).

At first glance, the spotted hyena may appear strange.

The hyena has a huge head, a long, thick, muscular neck, and powerful jaws that give it the most powerful bite of any animal.

Hyenas have longer front legs than back legs, giving them a characteristic similar to that of a wildebeest or bison.

They have a coarse fur, yellow or gray tint covered in spots that vary among individuals.

The ears of the hyena appear to be rounded. Hyena has a short mane of hair that stands upright along its back.

Hunting and Behavior

The Rat Pack | African Wild Dogs aka Painted Dogs. Endangere… | Flickr

Wild dogs hunt as a single unit, and are the most successful predatory mammals on the planet, with a success rate of over 80%. Lions, on the other hand, have a 30% success rate.

African wild dogs are skilled daytime pack hunters who catch their prey by hunting them down for 10 to 60 minutes at speeds of up to 66 km/h (41 mph).

Their hunting tactics vary depending on the target, with wildebeest they chased it down to frighten the group and isolate a weak individual.

Territorial antelopes, on the other hand, are captured by closing off their escape routes.

Medium-sized game is typically killed in 2-5 minutes, however larger prey, such as wildebeest, might take up to 30 minutes to kill.

African wild dogs vomit food for both adults and young family members in the pack

During feeding time, puppies who are mature enough to eat solid food are given the first privilege to eat before others; adult dogs assist in feeding and protecting the pups.

Free photo Baby Animals Hyenas Safari Animals Cub - Max Pixel

Spotted hyenas can scare lions away from their kill during a hunt, however, the hyena’s amazing hunting abilities are put to the test.

They can chase after prey over long distances while running at speeds of up to 37 mph (60 kilometers per hour).

Spotted hyenas are known for picking out the weak and young in the herd, but they can also kill healthy adult ungulates.

The type of game they hunt is determined by the kinds of animals in the area.

The hyena clan grows in size, and so does its prey. Hyena’s list of prey consists of Young rhinos, adult wildebeest, zebras, and Cape buffalo. 

When hunting such large animals, they do so in clans, and young baby hyenas take several years to become successful.

The smaller packs chase down easier animals like gazelles, impalas, warthogs, and waterbucks. They have strong Jaws with great strength that can easily crush bones.


Free photo Nature Africa Wildlife African Wild Dog Kruger - Max Pixel

A hyena is bigger and more powerful than an African wild dog: Although, there is no competition between them in the wild.

Thus a hyena can be twice or even three times the size of a wild dog, not only more robust with a more powerful bite.

The bite force of an African wild dog is 318 PSI, while that of a spotted hyena is 1100 PSI.

But the question was not over a one-o-one dispute, but their packs. African wild dogs live in permanent packs consisting of two to 27 adults and yearling pups.

Spotted hyenas live in large communities, referred to as “clans”, which can consist of at most 80 individuals.

The size of the clan differs geographically. Clans tend to be smaller in the Serengeti, where prey migrates from place to place, but bigger in the Ngorongoro Crater region where prey is sedentary.

Hyena clans are more united than wolf packs, but not as tightly linked as African wild dog packs.

Hyena clans are larger than African wild dogs packs, on average.

Hyenas are used to directly battle over prey on a regular basis with an even larger predator, the lion,

Spotted hyena | Ngorongoro, Tanzania | A_Peach | Flickr

so their clans need to be large, while African wild dogs will more likely avoid direct confrontation with lions’ pride.

The three top predators share territory in lots of places, but studies show that African wild dogs are to ones to adapt themselves to their more powerful competitors.

All of that just to say that, on average, a clan of hyenas wins over a pack of African wild dogs. There is extensive evidence on that.

But nature is nature, and African wild dogs can be a fierce enemy if the conditions and numbers are in their favor.

The Wild Dogs - The Serengeti | Four days spent in the heart… | Flickr

Thus, on certain occasions, African wild dogs can beat hyenas.

Personally, I think that only if the number of dogs is much higher than the number of hyenas, then they could win.

However, in a fight to the death, if the packs are equal or even with a small advantage of the dogs, the hyenas win!

What do you think? please give your comments below…thanks



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