African wild dog vs. pit bull

Updated November 21, 2016

The African wild dog is a wild canine native to the woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa. It is also commonly referred to as the African wolf or the cape hunting dog. African wild dogs are similar to their wolf relatives, especially in their pack's social structure. Unlike African wild dogs, pit bulls, also referred to as American bull dogs or American pit bull terriers, are a breed of domesticated dogs in the terrier group.


African wild dogs are lean and thin. They have a distinctive coat with mottled spots, which are usually yellow, red, brown, black and white in colour. They have large ears and only four toes on each paw. African wild dogs are about 30 to 45 inches in height and weigh 18.1kg. to 36.3kg. Pit bulls, unlike African wild dogs, are stocky with short, strong legs. Most pit bulls have solid colour coats, though some are spotted. They do not have mottled coats like African wild dogs. Pit bulls are typically heavier than African wild dogs, ranging from about 9.07kg. to 49.9kg. Though more muscular, pit bulls have shorter, stockier legs than African wild dogs and usually measure only 18 to 22 inches in height.


African wild dogs, because they are not domesticated, rely on hunting prey in the wild. They usually prey on medium-size herd animals such as kudu and springbok. While hunting, African wild dogs can run at speeds up to 40mph. Because pit butlls are domesticated, they do not hunt for their food. Like African wild dogs, pit bulls are carnivores and require a large amount of protein. Pit bulls are most often fed a special protein-rich dry kibble. Though pit bulls do not need to chase their food, they do require lots of exercise to stay healthy.

Social Dogs

African wild dogs, like most canines, are social creatures. They live in packs, which range in size from two to 30 dogs. Before going out to hunt prey, the dogs in the pack generally greet one another, rubbing their noses together and wagging their tails to show affection. Like African wild dogs, pit bulls are social. Though they do not live in large packs, they often think of their human companions as pack leaders and must be given firm discipline in order to be controlled. Pit bulls can be aggressive when guarding their pack or homes. Like African wild dogs, pit bulls can be affectionate, licking members and rubbing against members of their pack and playing with one another.


In a pack of African wild dogs, often the alpha female is the only dog to have puppies. Female African wild dogs give birth to litters of about 10 to 12 puppies after a 2 1/2 month gestation period. The puppies remain in the safety of the den for about eight weeks before venturing out. Pit bulls have litters that are significantly smaller than African wild dogs. Pit bull litters are generally between five and 10 puppies. Unlike African wild dogs, which rely on other members of the pack to help care for puppies, pit bull mothers have the sole responsibility to care for their offspring.

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