Dhole Canis Cuon alpinus

Dhole Canis Cuon alpinus - #Boycott4Wildlife

Dhole Cuon alpinus


Extant (resident)

Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Thailand

Possibly Extinct



Afghanistan; Kazakhstan; Korea, Republic of; Kyrgyzstan; Mongolia; Russian Federation; Singapore; Tajikistan; Uzbekistan

Presence Uncertain

Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of; Pakistan

Fiercely protective, elusive and beautiful Dholes are an ancient species of wild dog that diverged from other dog species millions of years ago. Dholes are also known as Asiatic Wild Dogs, Indian Wild Dogs, Red Wolves and Mountain Wolves. Once found across the Russian Steppe, China, the Middle East and northern Asia their range has been fractured and reduced dramatically by human-related pressures and threats. They are now Endangered on IUCN Red List.

Fierce, elusive and #endangered #Dholes /Red #Wolves are rapidly disappearing with no protections in place. Fight against #palmoil #beef #deforestation in #India and #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife

Ancient #dog species #Dholes AKA Red #Wolves are rapidly disappearing with no known protections, due to #palmoil and #beef #deforestation in #India Help them each time you shop and #Boycottpalmoil #Boycott4Wildlife

Dhole by Kuntalee Rangnoi for Getty Images
Dhole by Kuntalee Rangnoi for Getty Images

Appearance & Behaviour

The Dhole have a striking and intense appearance with thick and dense fur ranging from pale gold, to yellow to dark reddish-brown and grey-brown. Their underside is typically a paler colour of creamy white. They differ from other dog species in that they have a thicker muzzle, one fewer molar on each side of their jaws and additional teats. They are average sized dogs and typically weigh between 10 – 25kg with males being about 4.5kg heavier than females.

They are the only extant member of the genus Cuon, and they differ from the Canis genus as they have a reduced number of molars and more teats.

Dholes are classified as endangered by IUCN Red List due to ongoing habitat loss, a reduction in the number of prey species and competition from other predators, human persecution and possibly diseases from domestic and feral dogs.

They typically live in structured and hierarchical packs of between 5 to 12 individuals. These consist of a dominant male, dominant male and pups. As with other wild dog species, each pack usually has only one breeding female. Packs sometimes congregate together to form larger groups of up to 40 dogs.

Together they carry out cooperative hunting and care for the pups as a group. Although extremely hierarchical, pack members hardly ever become aggressive to each other.

They have great stamina and can hunt and chase prey for many hours, although they aren’t as speedy as jackals or foxes. They predominantly hunt during the morning (rather than night as with other wild dogs and wolves) this indicates that they rely heavily on their sight for hunting.

During a hunt the pack will alternate lead dogs to pursue the prey, with several dogs taking the lead while the rest fall back to a slower pace. Then the dogs will alternate once the lead dogs get tired. They can typically be found close to water. After a hunt they will leave their quarry nearby so that they can quench their thirst at the riverside.

Dholes are fearful and cautious of humans and yet they are extremely bold in their collective hunting. They have been known to take down large animals like water buffaloes and tigers. In general their prey includes large or medium sized ungulates: chital, sambar, muntjac, mouse deer, swamp deer, wild boar, gaur, water buffalo, banteng, cattle, nilgai, goats, Indian hares, Himalayan field rats and langurs.

Prey animals are pursued over long distances and then killed by being disembowelled. They are unlike African wild dogs in that they will allow their puppies to eat first after a kill.

Chavez, D.E., Gronau, I., Hains, T. et al. Comparative genomics provides new insights into the remarkable adaptations of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Sci Rep 9, 8329 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44772-5

Chavez, D.E., Gronau, I., Hains, T. et al. Comparative genomics provides new insights into the remarkable adaptations of the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus). Sci Rep 9, 8329 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44772-5


Dholes prefer open spaces and can be found in the jungle clearings, jungle roads, riversides and pathways. They can also be found on the forest steppes, hills and thick jungles of Central Asia (including Manchuria, Burma, India and the Malayan Archipelago.


The primary threat to Dholes’ survival is habitat loss and deforestation across their range. The number of dholes alive is estimated to be 4,500 individuals according to IUCN Red List with 949-2,215 are mature individuals. They are classified as Endangered.

In northeastern India, prey depletion is contributing to the decline of Dholes in the region (Gopi et al. 2012).

IUCN Red List

Dholes face a number of human-related threats:

  • Deforestation: for timber, palm oil, rubber and beef agriculture.
  • Deforestation: for hydroelectric dams, highways and other infrastructure which fragments their range.
  • Infectious diseases: particularly in India, from domestic and feral dogs. Dholes are susceptible to rabies, canine distemper, canine parvovirus and sarcoptic mange and other diseases.
  • Human persecution: Some humans have been known to enter their den sites and poison, trap or shoot dholes in retribution for them taking livestock.
  • Competition for prey: As hyper-carnivores, Dholes eat larger numbers of prey than other large carnivores in Asia. Human hunting of prey species is devastating for Dholes who compete for the same prey species. Dholes also compete against tigers and leopards for prey. Dholes have been known to hunt and kill both of these animals. The reverse is also true for tigers and leopards killing dholes.
  • The dominance hierarchy between Dholes and Tigers is not clear, although Dholes likely avoid tigers especially if packs are small. Dholes appear to be behaviourally dominant over leopards.


Dholes are omnivorous and will eat any small, medium or large sized prey that they can find from rodents to deer, wild pig, goats, hares, livestock and monkeys. They have been known to opportunistically hunt tigers or leopards in hunting packs.

They will also eat vegetable matter and fruit more readily compared to other canid species and in captivity they are known to eat grasses, leaves and herbs seemingly for enjoyment.

Mating and breeding

Alpha females and alpha males will mate for life and they are followed and assisted by other less dominant dogs who form the pack. Mating typically occurs between September to February. After a two month gestation period, the alpha female dhole will give birth to a litter of 4-10 pups. Other females in the pack will assist with childcare in the den and may also be pregnant or mothers as well. The puppies of all females are protected in the den and are brought regurgitated meat from other members of the pack. Together, female dholes guard the puppies.

Play is important for young pups and after 10 weeks in the den, the puppies will explore the world outside. Dominance orders are established by the time the pack’s pups are weaned and begin hunting independently in the pack at the age of 6-7 months old. Pups reach sexual maturity by the age of 1 year old.

You can support this beautiful animal

There are no known formal conservation activities in place for this animal. Make sure that you #Boycottpalmoil and #Boycott4Wildlife in the supermarket and raise awareness of these beautiful ancient dogs in order to support their survival! Find out more here

Further Information

ICUN endangered logo

Kamler, J.F., Songsasen, N., Jenks, K., Srivathsa, A., Sheng, L. & Kunkel, K. 2015. Cuon alpinusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T5953A72477893. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T5953A72477893.en. Accessed on 06 September 2022.

Dhole on Animalia.bio

Dhole Canis Cuon alpinus - #Boycott4Wildlife

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Published by Palm Oil Detectives

Hi, I’m Palm Oil Detective’s Editor in Chief. Palm Oil Detectives is partly a consumer website about palm oil in products and partly an online community for writers, scientists, conservationists, artists and musicians to showcase their work and express their love for endangered species. I have a strong voice for creatures great and small threatened by deforestation. With our collective power we can shift the greed of the retail and industrial agriculture sectors and through strong campaigning we can stop them cutting down forests. Be bold! Be courageous! Join the #Boycott4Wildlife and stand up for the animals with your supermarket choices

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