Dhole (Cuon alpinus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family:    Canidae
Size:    Length: 36 to 42 inches (91 to 107 cm)  Height: 16 to 21 inches (42 to 55 cm) to the shoulder 
Weight: 22 to 46 pounds (10 to 21 kg)
Diet: Deer, wild pig, wild boar, wild buffalo, goats, gaur, banteng, sheep, antelope and chital
Distribution: Asia
Young:  2 to 9 pups 
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: Vulnerable
Terms: Young: Pup
Lifespan: Up to 16 years



·       Dholes wag their tails, just like pet dogs.

·       They are also referred to as red dogs or Asiatic wild dogs.

·       Dholes are unsympathetically and inaccurately portrayed in Kipling’s “The Jungle Book.”

·       They whistle to reassemble the pack when members become separated in dense forest. 

·       The dhole’s jaw is shorter than most other dogs, with one less molar on each side of its lower jaw.



Dholes are extremely similar in appearance to foxes—their fur is red with white patches on the muzzle and belly.  They have a bushy, dark tail and dark markings under their eyes and muzzle.



Dholes prefer to live in forested areas and mountainous regions. They live in or near dense forests, where they can find sufficient prey and have access to water. The range of a pack is about 15 to 34 square miles (40 to 48 sq km). They steer clear of deserts or open plains.


Feeding Habits

Depending on where dholes live, they prey on different types of animals. In India their favourite prey is chital; while in the Soviet Union they eat wild sheep and wild goats.



Female dholes gives birth in a den that they fashion from an existing hole in a riverbank or among rocks, after a two-month pregnancy. The usual litter size is two to six, but as many as nine have been recorded. Litters may even be larger on occasion, as female dholes have up to 16 mammae. The alpha male and other members of the pack all help take care of the pups, bringing both them and the mother food, playing with the pups and making sure they do not wander into danger. When the pups are old enough to join in on a hunt, the adults make sure they get some of the kill. The pups are born with brown fur, but acquire the colour of the adults by the age of three months. They are weaned at eight weeks and are mature by one year.



Dholes  live in packs of five to 12 individuals. Sociable with dholes from other packs, they sometimes gather in groups of up to 40. The pack is usually made of related animals. Like wolves, they hunt together in packs and rarely show any signs of aggression toward each other. They do not even fight for food, although dholes try to eat as quickly as possible when there is a fresh kill.  Dholes are non-aggressive towards humans and retreat when they encounter them. 



Dholes are rare or extinct in most areas of India. In the late 1980s they were still believed to be widespread in Burma, and have been sighted occasionally in China and Thailand. Their range once included Malaysia, Java, Sumatra, Korea and eastern Soviet Union. Dholes have been killed for years by people who put bounties on their heads, because they occasionally kill livestock. People have also been known to follow dholes and steal their fresh kills for themselves. All of this led to dholes being listed as an endangered species in 1970 by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.



Animal Diversity Web Dhole Factsheet







Dhole Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US