The African wild dog is long-legged, with massive jaws and very large, erect batlike ears. Although it resembles some domestic dogs, it differs in that it has four toes on each foot instead of five.
Wild dogs live in packs of six to 20. If the pack numbers fall below six, hunting efficiency is eroded. The dogs have a peculiar rather playful ceremony that bonds them for a common purpose and initiates each hunt. They start circulating among the other pack members, vocalizing and touching until they get excited and are ready to hunt. They start the hunt in an organized, cooperative manner. When prey is targeted, some of the dogs run close to the animal, while others follow behind, taking over when the leader tired. They can run long distances, at speeds up to about 35 miles per hour.
Of the large carnivores, wild dogs are the most efficient hunters – targeted prey rarely escapes. They tear the flesh until the animal falls, consuming even if it is still alive. This behavior may prejudice people against them, although in reality it may be no worse than the prolonged kills of other carnivores. Apart from its undeniable bloodiness, the remarkable aspect of the their hunting is the complete lack of aggression toward each other. Wild dogs have a social hierarchy but unlike many other social animals, there is little obvious intimidation. They have elaborate greeting rituals, accompanied by twittering and whining. Their large range of vocalizations includes a short bark of alarm, a rallying howl and a bell-like contact call that can be heard over long distances.
They usually hunt in the early morning and again in late evening, prettying on gazelles and other antelopes, warthogs, wildebeests calves and rat and birds. They may raid domestic stock, but as wild dogs seldom stay in one place for long, this damage is not extensive