The dhole /doʊl/ (Cuon alpinus) is a canid native to Central, South, and Southeast Asia. Other English names for the species include Asiatic wild dog,[3] Indian wild dog,[4] whistling dog, red dog,[5] and mountain wolf.[6] It is genetically close to species within the genus Canis,[7](Fig. 10) but distinct in several anatomical aspects: its skull is convex rather than concave in profile, it lacks a third lower molar[8] and the upper molars sport only a single cusp as opposed to between two and four.[9] During the Pleistocene, the dhole ranged throughout Asia, Europe, and North America but became restricted to its historical range 12,000–18,000 years ago.[10]

The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans without rigid dominance hierarchies[11] and containing multiple breeding females.[12] Such clans usually consist of 12 individuals, but groups of over 40 are known.[5] It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets medium and large-sized ungulates.[13] In tropical forests, the dhole competes with tigers and leopards, targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.[14]

It is listed as Endangered by the IUCN as populations are decreasing and are estimated at fewer than 2,500 adults. Factors contributing to this decline include habitat loss, loss of prey, competition with other species, persecution due to livestock predation and disease transfer from domestic dogs.[2]

Temporal range: 0.781–0 Ma
Middle Pleistocene – Recent
Indian wild dog by N. A. Naseer
An Ussuri dhole (Cuon alpinus alpinus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Tribe: Canini
Genus: Cuon
Hodgson, 1838
C. alpinus
Binomial name
Cuon alpinus
(Pallas, 1811)
Dhole range

Etymology and naming

The etymology of "dhole" is unclear. The possible earliest written use of the word in English occurred in 1808 by soldier Thomas Williamson, who encountered the animal in Ramghur district. He stated that dhole was a common local name for the species.[15] In 1827, Charles Hamilton Smith claimed that it was derived from a language spoken in 'various parts of the East'.[16] Two years later, Smith connected this word with Turkish: deli 'mad, crazy', and erroneously compared the Turkish word with Old Saxon: dol and Dutch: dol (cfr. also English: dull; German: toll),[17] which are in fact from the Proto-Germanic *dwalaz 'foolish, stupid'.[18] Richard Lydekker wrote nearly 80 years later that the word was not used by the natives living within the species' range.[4] The Merriam-Webster Dictionary theorises that it may have come from the Kannada: tōḷa ('wolf').[19]

Taxonomy and evolution

A Tiger Hunted by Indian Wild Dogs (1807) by Samuel Howitt: This is one of the first illustrations of the species, featured in Thomas Williamson's Oriental Field Sports. The depiction, though, is based on Williamson's description of the animal as resembling the Indian pariah dog.

The species was first described in European literature in 1794 by an explorer named Pesteref, who encountered dholes during his travels in far eastern Russia. He described the animal as being a regular pack hunter of Alpine ibex, and of bearing many similarities with the Eurasian golden jackal. It was given the binomial name Canis alpinus in 1811 by Peter Pallas, who described its range as encompassing the upper levels of Udskoi Ostrog in Amurland, towards the eastern side and in the region of the upper Lena River, though he wrote that it also occurred around the Yenisei River and that it occasionally crossed into China.[20][21] This northern Russian range reported by this "nearly impeccable" author Pallas, during the 18th and 19th centuries, is "considerably north" of where this species occurs today.[21] The British naturalist Brian Hodgson gave the dhole the binomial name Canis primaevus and proposed that it was the progenitor of the domestic dog.[22] Hodgson later took note of the dhole's physical distinctiveness from the genus Canis and assigned it to a new genus, Cuon.[23]

The Untamed
Captive Indian wild dogs resting

The first study on the origins of the species was conducted by paleontologist Erich Thenius, who concluded that the dhole was a post-Pleistocene descendant of a golden jackal-like ancestor.[24] The earliest known member of the genus Cuon is the Chinese Cuon majori of the Villafranchian period. It resembled Canis in its physical form more than the modern species, which has greatly reduced molars, whose cusps have developed into sharply trenchant points. By the Middle Pleistocene, C. majori had lost the last lower molar altogether. C. alpinus itself arose during the late Middle Pleistocene, by which point the transformation of the lower molar into a single cusped, slicing tooth had been completed. Late Middle Pleistocene dholes were virtually indistinguishable from their modern descendants, save for their greater size, which closely approached that of the gray wolf. The dhole became extinct in much of Europe during the late Würm period,[25] though it may have survived up until the early Holocene in the Iberian Peninsula.[26] and at Riparo Fredian in northern Italy[27] The vast Pleistocene range of this species also included numerous islands in Asia that this species no longer inhabits, such as Sri Lanka, Borneo and possibly Palawan in the Philippines.[28][29][30][31][32] The fossil record indicates that the species also occurred in North America, with remains being found in Beringia and Mexico.[33]

Cuon alpinus Cova Negra
Skeletal remains of a European dhole dating back to the upper Würm period from Cova Negra de Xàtiva, Valencia, Spain

The dhole's distinctive morphology has been a source of much confusion in determining the species' systematic position among the Canidae. George Simpson placed the dhole in the subfamily Simocyoninae alongside the African wild dog and the bush dog, on account of all three species' similar dentition.[34] Subsequent authors, including Juliet Clutton-Brock, noted greater morphological similarities to canids of the genera Canis, Dusicyon, and Alopex than to either Speothos or Lycaon, with any resemblance to the latter two being due to convergent evolution.[8] Some authors consider the extinct Canis subgenus named Xenocyon as ancestral to both the genus Lycaon and the genus Cuon.[35][36][37][38]:p149 Subsequent studies on the canid genome revealed that the dhole and African wild dog are closely related to members of the genus Canis.[7] This closeness to Canis may have been confirmed in a menagerie in Madras, where according to zoologist Reginald Pocock, a dhole interbred with a Eurasian golden jackal.[39]

Leopold v. Schrenck - Cuon alpinus
Illustration (1859) by Leopold von Schrenck, one of the first accurate depictions of the species, based on a single skin purchased in the village of Dshare on the Amur[40]

Admixture with the African hunting dog

In 2018, whole genome sequencing was used to compare all members (apart from the black-backed and side-striped jackals) of the genus Canis, along with the dhole and the African hunting dog (Lycaon pictus). There was strong evidence of ancient genetic admixture between the dhole and the African hunting dog. Today, their ranges are remote from each other; however, during the Pleistocene era the dhole could be found as far west as Europe. The study proposes that the dhole's distribution may have once included the Middle East, from where it may have admixed with the African hunting dog in North Africa. However, there is no evidence of the dhole having existed in the Middle East nor North Africa.[41]

Phylogenetic tree of the extant wolf-like canids
Caninae 3.5 Ma

Dog Tibetan mastiff (white background).jpg

Gray wolf Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate I).jpg

Himalayan wolf Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate III).jpg

Coyote Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate IX).jpg

African golden wolf Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XI).jpg

Ethiopian wolf Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate VI).jpg

Eurasian golden jackal Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate X).jpg

Dhole Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XLI).jpg

African wild dog Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XLIV).jpg


Side-striped jackal Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XIII).jpg

Black-backed jackal Dogs, jackals, wolves, and foxes (Plate XII).jpg

Phylogenetic relationships between the extant wolf-like clade of canids based on nuclear DNA sequence data taken from the cell nucleus,[7][42] except for the Himalayan wolf, based on mitochondrial DNA sequences.[42][43] Timing in millions of years.[42]


Historically, up to 10 subspecies of dholes have been recognised.[44] As of 2005, only three subspecies are recognised by MSW3.[1]

Subspecies Image Trinomial authority Common names Description Range Synonyms
C. a. alpinus

(Nominate subspecies)

Keulmans Cuon alpinus dukhunensis Pallas, 1811 Indian dhole,
eastern Asiatic dhole,
southern dhole,[45]
Chinese dhole,
Ussuri dhole[9]
Large subspecies with bright red coat and narrow skull.[9] The Russian Far East, Mongolia, China, Nepal, the Indian subcontinent, Bhutan, Burma, Indochina and Java. adustus (Pocock, 1941), antiquus (Matthew & Granger, 1923), clamitans (Heude, 1892), dukhunensis (Sykes, 1831), fumosus (Pocock, 1936), grayiformis (Hodgson, 1863), infuscus (Pocock, 1936), javanicus (Desmarest, 1820), laniger (Pocock, 1936), lepturus (Heude, 1892), primaevus (Hodgson, 1833), rutilans (Müller, 1839)
C. a. hesperius Keulmans Cuon alpinus alpinus Afanasjev and Zolotarev, 1935 Siberian dhole,
western Asiatic dhole,
northern dhole,[45]
Tian Shan dhole[9]
Smaller than C. a. alpinus, with wider skull and lighter-coloured winter fur[9] The Altai Mountains, the Tian Shan and possibly the Pamir Mountains and Kashmir jason (Pocock, 1936)
C. a. sumatrensis Keulemans Cuon alpinus javanicus Hardwicke, 1821 Sumatran dhole,
Javan dhole,
Malayan dhole
Has short, coarse fur with no woolly underfur and much black on the back[45] Sumatra, Java and the Malayan Peninsula

However, studies on the dhole's mtDNA and microsatellite genotype showed no clear subspecific distinctions. Nevertheless, two major phylogeographic groupings were discovered in dholes of the Asian mainland, which likely diverged during a glaciation event. One population extends from South, Central and North India (south of the Ganges) into Burma, and the other extends from India north of the Ganges into northeastern India, Burma, Thailand and the Malaysian Peninsula. The origin of dholes in Sumatra and Java is, as of 2005, unclear, as they show greater relatedness to dholes in India, Burma and China rather than with those in nearby Malaysia. In the absence of further data, the researchers involved in the study speculated that Javan and Sumatran dholes could have been introduced to the islands by humans.[46]


Dhole skull and molars illustrated by St. George Mivart (1890)
Dhole in Ueno, Tokyo
Captive adult dhole

In appearance, the dhole has been variously described as combining the physical characteristics of the gray wolf and the red fox,[9] and as being "cat-like" on account of its long backbone and slender limbs.[24] It has a wide and massive skull with a well-developed sagittal crest,[9] and its masseter muscles are highly developed compared to other canid species, giving the face an almost hyena-like appearance.[47] The rostrum is shorter than that of domestic dogs and most other canids.[5] The species has six rather than seven lower molars.[48] The upper molars are weak, being one third to one half the size of those of wolves and have only one cusp as opposed to between two and four, as is usual in canids,[9] an adaptation thought to improve shearing ability, thus allowing it to compete more successfully with kleptoparasites.[13] Adult females can weigh from 10 to 17 kg (22 to 37 lb), while the slightly larger male may weigh from 15 to 21 kg (33 to 46 lb). The mean weight of adults from three small samples was 15.1 kg (33 lb).[13][49][50][51] Occasionally, dholes may be sympatric with the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), which is one of the smallest races of the gray wolf, but is still approximately 25% heavier on average.[52][53] It stands 17 to 22 in (430 to 560 mm) at the shoulder and measures 3 ft (0.91 m) in body length. Like the African wild dog, its ears are rounded rather than pointed.

Cuon alpinus asiatic wild dog

The general tone of the fur is reddish, with the brightest hues occurring in winter. In the winter coat, the back is clothed in a saturated rusty-red to reddish colour with brownish highlights along the top of the head, neck and shoulders. The throat, chest, flanks, and belly and the upper parts of the limbs are less brightly coloured, and are more yellowish in tone. The lower parts of the limbs are whitish, with dark brownish bands on the anterior sides of the forelimbs. The muzzle and forehead are greyish-reddish. The tail is very luxuriant and fluffy, and is mainly of a reddish-ocherous colour, with a dark brown tip. The summer coat is shorter, coarser, and darker.[9] The dorsal and lateral guard hairs in adults measure 20–30 mm in length. Dholes in the Moscow Zoo moult once a year from March to May.[5]

Dholes produce whistles resembling the calls of red foxes, sometimes rendered as coo-coo. How this sound is produced is unknown, though it is thought to help in coordinating the pack when travelling through thick brush. When attacking prey, they emit screaming KaKaKaKAA sounds.[54] Other sounds include whines (food soliciting), growls (warning), screams, chatterings (both of which are alarm calls) and yapping cries.[55] In contrast to wolves, dholes do not howl or bark.[9] Dholes have a complex body language. Friendly or submissive greetings are accompanied by horizontal lip retraction and the lowering of the tail, as well as licking. Playful dholes open their mouths with their lips retracted and their tails held in a vertical position whilst assuming a play bow. Aggressive or threatening dholes pucker their lips forward in a snarl and raise the hairs on their backs, as well as keep their tails horizontal or vertical. When afraid, they pull their lips back horizontally with their tails tucked and their ears flat against the skull.[56]

Distribution and habitat

Dhole feeding Khao Yai NP
Dhole feeding on sambar deer carcass, Khao Yai National Park

In Central Asia, dholes primarily inhabit mountainous areas; in the western half of their range, they live mostly in alpine meadows and high-montane steppes high above sea level, while in the east, they mainly range in montane taigas, though they may appear along coastlines. In India, Myanmar, Indochina, Indonesia and China, they prefer forested areas in alpine zones and occasionally also in plains regions.[9]

The dhole might still be present in the Tunkinsky National Park in extreme southern Siberia near Lake Baikal.[57] It possibly still exists in the Primorsky Krai province in far eastern Russia, where it was considered a rare and endangered species in 2004, with unconfirmed reports in the Pikthsa-Tigrovy Dom protected forest area; no sighting was reported in other areas such as the Mataisky Zakaznik forest since the late 1970s.[58]

Currently, no other recent reports are confirmed of dhole being present in Russia, with no recent reports from Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan, though one specimen was caught in southern China's Jiangxi district. Also, in 2011 to 2013, local government officials and herders reported the presence of several packs at altitudes of 2,000 to 3,500 m near the Taxkorgan Reserve in the Karakoram/Pamir Mountains region of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, on China's border with Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Afghanistan.[59]

Dholes have been also recently reported from the Altyn-Tagh (Altun) Mountains in the southern portion of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region close to Tibet, as well.[60] It is unknown if dholes continue to inhabit the Tian Shan, though they occur in small numbers in the Gansu Province, with one pack being sighted in the Qilian Mountains within that province in 2006;[61] camera-trap surveys in the Yanchiwan National Nature Reserve in the northern edge of the Gansu Province in 2013–2014 confirmed the continued presence of several packs and a female adult with pups in this area at altitudes around 2,500 to 4,000 m.[59]

Dholes still occur in Tibet and possibly also in North Korea. They once occurred in the alpine steppes extending into Kashmir to the Ladakh area, but have not been recorded in Pakistan.[2]

They occur in most of India south of the Ganges, particularly in the Central Indian Highlands and the Western and Eastern Ghats. In northeast India, it is present in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, and West Bengal and in the Indo-Gangetic Plain's Terai region. Dhole populations in the Himalayas and northwest India are fragmented.[2]

In 2011, dhole packs were recorded by camera traps in the Chitwan National Park.[62] Its presence was confirmed in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area in 2011 by camera traps.[63]

In Bhutan, dholes have recovered from a poisoning campaign during the 1970s and became re-established in the 1990s.[64] Today they occur in the Jigme Dorji National Park.[65]

Dholes still occur in northeastern Bangladesh's forest reserves in the Sylhet area, as well the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast. These zones are unlikely to contain viable populations, considering most sightings involve small groups or solitary specimens, and they are likely decreasing in number due to the lack of prey.[2]

The presence of dholes in Myanmar was confirmed by camera-trapping in 11 areas, and alongside leopards, have apparently replaced tigers as the country's top predators.[2] In 2015, dholes and tigers were recorded by camera-traps for the first time in the hill forests of Karen State.[66]

Their range is highly fragmented in the Malaysian Peninsula, Sumatra, Java, Vietnam and Thailand.[2] In 2014, camera-trap videos in the montane tropical forests at 2,000 m in the Kerinci Seblat National Park in Sumatra revealed the continued presence of this species.[67] A camera-trapping survey in the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand from January 2008 to February 2010 revealed at least one healthy dhole pack.[68] In northern Laos, dholes have been studied (2012) in protected areas.[69]

A disjunct population of this species has been reported from the area of Trabzon and Rize in northeastern Turkey near the border with Georgia in the 1990s by two Turkish zoologists.[70] Some authorities have accepted this report,[71] but others considered it to be unreliable.[2] Also, one single individual was claimed to have been shot in 2013 in the nearby Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (a subject republic of Russia immediately north of Georgia in the Central Caucasus); its remains (including a skull) were analysed by a biologist from the Kabardino-Balkarian State University in May 2015, who concluded the skull was from a dhole.[72] Recently, in August 2015, researchers from the National Museum of Natural History from Sofia, Bulgaria (including Dr. Nikolai Spassov, the current director of this museum) and the Karadeniz Technical University began an expedition to track and document this possible Turkish population of dhole.[73] On October 12, 2015, this research team reported the preliminary conclusion that no real evidence exists of a living population of the dhole in Turkey (or in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic), pending DNA analysis of samples from the original 1994 Serez-Eroglu skins.[74]

Ecology and behaviour

Social and territorial behaviour

20140303 7687 Pench Dhole
Dholes playing, Pench Tiger Reserve

Dholes are more social than gray wolves,[9] and have less of a dominance hierarchy, as seasonal scarcity of food is not a serious concern for them. In this manner, they closely resemble African wild dogs in social structure.[11] They live in clans rather than packs, as the latter term refers to a group of animals that always hunt together. In contrast, dhole clans frequently break into small packs of 3 to 5 animals, particularly during the spring season, as this is the optimal number for catching fawns.[75] Dominant dholes are hard to identify, as they do not engage in dominance displays as wolves do, though other clan members will show submissive behaviour toward them.[12] Intragroup fighting is rarely observed.[76] Dholes are far less territorial than wolves, with pups from one clan often joining another without trouble once they mature sexually.[77] Clans typically number 5 to 12 individuals in India, though clans of 40 have been reported. In Thailand, clans rarely exceed three individuals.[5] Unlike other canids, there is no evidence of dholes using urine to mark their territories or travel routes. When urinating, dholes, especially males, may raise one hind leg or both to result in a handstand. Handstand urination is also seen in bush dogs (Speothos venaticus).[78] They may defecate in conspicuous places, though a territorial function is unlikely, as faeces are mostly deposited within the clan's territory rather than the periphery. Faeces are often deposited in what appear to be communal latrines. They do not scrape the earth with their feet, as other canids do, to mark their territories.[56]


Four kinds of den have been described; simple earth dens with one entrance (usually remodeled striped hyena or porcupine dens); complex cavernous earth dens with more than one entrance; simple cavernous dens excavated under or between rocks; and complex cavernous dens with several other dens in the vicinity, some of which are interconnected. Dens are typically located under dense scrub or on the banks of dry rivers or creeks. The entrance to a dhole den can be almost vertical, with a sharp turn three to four feet down. The tunnel opens into an antechamber, from which extends more than one passage. Some dens may have up to six entrances leading up to 100 feet (30 m) of interconnecting tunnels. These "cities" may be developed over many generations of dholes, and are shared by the clan females when raising young together.[79] Like African wild dogs and dingoes, dholes will avoid killing prey close to their dens.[80]

Reproduction and development

In India, the mating season occurs between mid-October and January, while captive dholes in the Moscow Zoo breed mostly in February.[5] Unlike wolf packs, dhole clans may contain more than one breeding female.[12] More than one female dhole may den and rear their litters together in the same den.[76] During mating, the female assumes a crouched, cat-like position. There is no copulatory tie characteristic of other canids when the male dismounts. Instead, the pair lie on their sides facing each other in a semicircular formation.[81] The gestation period lasts 60–63 days, with litter sizes averaging four to six pups.[5] Their growth rate is much faster than that of wolves, being similar in rate to that of coyotes. Pups are suckled at least 58 days. During this time, the pack feeds the mother at the den site. Dholes do not use rendezvous sites to meet their pups as wolves do, though one or more adults will stay with the pups at the den while the rest of the pack hunts. Once weaning begins, the adults of the clan will regurgitate food for the pups until they are old enough to join in hunting. They remain at the den site for 70–80 days. By the age of six months, pups accompany the adults on hunts and will assist in killing large prey such as sambar by the age of eight months.[80] Maximum longevity in captivity is 15–16 years.[76]

Hunting behaviour

Dholes attacking a sambar, Bandipur National Park

Before embarking on a hunt, clans go through elaborate prehunt social rituals involving nuzzling, body rubbing and homo- and heterosexual mounting.[82] Dholes are primarily diurnal hunters, hunting in the early hours of the morning. They rarely hunt nocturnally, except on moonlit nights, indicating they greatly rely on sight when hunting.[83] Although not as fast as jackals and foxes, they can chase their prey for many hours.[9] During a pursuit, one or more dholes may take over chasing their prey, while the rest of the pack keeps up at a steadier pace behind, taking over once the other group tires. Most chases are short, lasting only 500 m.[84] When chasing fleet-footed prey, they run at a pace of 30 mph (48 km/h).[9] Dholes frequently drive their prey into water bodies, where the targeted animal's movements are hindered.[85]

Once large prey is caught, one dhole will grab the prey's nose, while the rest of the pack pulls the animal down by the flanks and hindquarters. They do not use a killing bite to the throat.[86] They occasionally blind their prey by attacking the eyes.[87] Serows are among the only ungulate species capable of effectively defending themselves against dhole attacks, due to their thick, protective coats and short, sharp horns capable of easily impaling dholes.[4] They will tear open their prey's flanks and disembowel it, eating the heart, liver, lungs and some sections of the intestines. The stomach and rumen are usually left untouched.[88] Prey weighing less than 50 kg is usually killed within two minutes, while large stags may take 15 minutes to die. Once prey is secured, dholes will tear off pieces of the carcass and eat in seclusion.[89] Unlike wolf packs, in which the breeding pair monopolises food, dholes give priority to the pups when feeding at a kill, allowing them to eat first.[12] They are generally tolerant of scavengers at their kills.[90] Both mother and young are provided with regurgitated food by other pack members.[76]

Feeding ecology

Dholes feeding on a chital, Bandipur National Park

Prey animals in India include chital, sambar deer, muntjac, mouse deer, barasingha, wild boar, gaur, water buffaloes, banteng, cattle, nilgai, goats, Indian hares, Himalayan field rats and langurs.[5][39][91] There is one record of a pack bringing down an Indian elephant calf in Assam, despite desperate defense of the mother, resulting in numerous losses to the pack.[6] In Kashmir, they prey on markhor,[39] and thamin in Myanmar,[5] Malayan tapir, Sumatran serow in Sumatra and the Malay Peninsula and Javan rusa in Java.[13] In the Tian Shan and Tarbagatai Mountains, dholes prey on Siberian ibexes, arkhar, roe deer, maral and wild boar. In the Altai and Sayan Mountains, they prey on musk deer and reindeer. In eastern Siberia, they prey on roe deer, Manchurian wapiti, wild pig, musk deer and reindeer, while in Primorye they feed on sika deer and goral. In Mongolia, they prey on argali and rarely Siberian ibex.[9] Like African wild dogs, but unlike wolves, dholes are not known to attack people.[9][39] Dholes eat fruit and vegetable matter more readily than other canids. In captivity, they eat various kinds of grasses, herbs and leaves, seemingly for pleasure rather than just when ill.[45] In summertime in the Tian Shan Mountains, dholes eat large quantities of mountain rhubarb.[9] Although opportunistic, dholes have a seeming aversion to hunting cattle and their calves.[92] Livestock predation by dholes has been a problem in Bhutan since the late 1990s, as domestic animals are often left outside to graze in the forest, sometimes for weeks at a time. Livestock stall-fed at night and grazed near homes are never attacked. Oxen are killed more often than cows, probably because they are given less protection.[93]

Enemies and competitors

Dhole killed by leopard
Dhole killed and cached in a tree by a leopard, India

In some areas, dholes are sympatric to tigers and leopards. Competition between these species is mostly avoided through differences in prey selection, although there is still substantial dietary overlap. Along with leopards, dholes typically target animals in the 30–175 kg range (mean weights of 35.3 kg for dhole and 23.4 kg for leopard), while tigers selected for prey animals heavier than 176 kg (but their mean prey weight was 65.5 kg). Also, other characteristics of the prey, such as sex, arboreality and aggressiveness, may play a role in prey selection. For example, dholes preferentially select male chital, whereas leopards kill both sexes more evenly (and tigers prefer larger prey altogether), dholes and tigers kill langurs rarely compared to leopards due to the leopards' greater arboreality, while leopards kill wild boar infrequently due to the inability of this relatively light predator to tackle aggressive prey of comparable weight.[14]

On some occasions, dholes may attack tigers. When confronted by dholes, tigers will seek refuge in trees or stand with their backs to a tree or bush, where they may be mobbed for lengthy periods before finally attempting escape. Escaping tigers are usually killed, while tigers which stand their ground have a greater chance of survival.[39] Tigers are dangerous opponents for dholes, as they have sufficient strength to kill a dhole with a single paw strike.[6] Dhole packs may steal leopard kills, while leopards may kill dholes if they encounter them singly or in pairs.[39] Since leopards are smaller than tigers and are more likely to hunt dholes, dhole packs tend to react more aggressively toward them than they do towards tigers.[94]

There are numerous records of leopards being treed by dholes.[76] Dholes sometimes drive tigers, leopards, snow leopards and bears (see below) from their kills.[76] Dholes were once thought to be a major factor in reducing Asiatic cheetah populations, though this is doubtful, as cheetahs live in open areas as opposed to forested areas favoured by dholes.[95]

Dhole packs occasionally attack Asiatic black bears, snow leopards, and sloth bears. When attacking bears, dholes will attempt to prevent them from seeking refuge in caves and lacerate their hindquarters.[39]

Although usually antagonistic toward wolves,[9] they may hunt and feed alongside one another.[96] There is at least one record of a lone wolf associating with a pair of dholes in Debrigarh Wildlife Sanctuary.[97] They infrequently associate in mixed groups with Eurasian golden jackals. Domestic dogs may kill dholes, though they will feed alongside them on occasion.[98]

Diseases and parasites

Dholes are vulnerable to a number of different diseases, particularly in areas where they are sympatric with other canid species. Infectious pathogens such as Toxocara canis are present in their faeces. They may suffer from rabies, canine distemper, mange, trypanosomiasis, canine parvovirus and endoparasites such as cestodes and roundworms.[13]


The dhole only rarely takes domestic livestock. Certain people, such as the Kurumbas and some Mon Khmer-speaking tribes will appropriate dhole kills; some Indian villagers welcome the dhole because of this appropriation of dhole kills.[76] Dholes were persecuted throughout India for bounties until they were given protection by the Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. Methods used for dhole hunting included poisoning, snaring, shooting and clubbing at den sites. Native Indian people killed dholes primarily to protect livestock, while British sporthunters during the British Raj did so under the conviction that dholes were responsible for drops in game populations. Persecution of dholes still occurs with varying degrees of intensity according to the region.[13] Bounties paid for dholes used to be 25 rupees, though this was reduced to 20 in 1926 after the number of presented dhole carcasses became too numerous to maintain the established reward.[99] In Indochina, dholes suffer heavily from nonselective hunting techniques such as snaring.[13]

The fur trade does not pose a significant threat to dholes.[13] The people of India do not eat dhole flesh and their fur is not considered overly valuable.[45] Due to their rarity, dholes were never harvested for their skins in large numbers in the Soviet Union and were sometimes accepted as dog or wolf pelts (being labeled as "half wolf" for the latter). The winter fur was prized by the Chinese, who bought dhole pelts in Ussuriysk during the late 1860s for a few silver rubles. In the early 20th century, dhole pelts reached eight rubles in Manchuria. In Semirechye, fur coats made from dhole skin were considered the warmest, but were very costly.[9]


In India, the dhole is protected under Schedule 2 of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The creation of reserves under Project Tiger provided some protection for dhole populations sympatric with tigers. In 2014, the Indian government sanctioned its first dhole conservation breeding centre at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) in Visakhapatnam.[100] The dhole has been protected in Russia since 1974, though it is vulnerable to poison left out for wolves. In China, the animal is listed as a category II protected species under the Chinese wildlife protection act of 1988. In Cambodia, the dhole is protected from all hunting, while conservation laws in Vietnam limit extraction and utilisation.[2]

In 2016, the Korean company Sooam Biotech was reported to be attempting to clone the dhole using dogs as surrogate mothers to help conserve the species.[101]

In culture and literature

Three dhole-like animals are featured on the coping stone of the Bharhut stupa dating from 100 BC. They are shown waiting by a tree, with a woman or spirit trapped up it, a scene reminiscent of dholes treeing tigers.[102] The animal's fearsome reputation in India is reflected by the number of pejorative names it possesses in Hindi, which variously translate as "red devil", "devil dog", "jungle devil", or "hound of Kali".[6] According to zoologist and explorer Leopold von Schrenck, he had trouble obtaining dhole specimens during his exploration of Amurland, as the local Gilyaks greatly feared the species. This fear and superstition was not, however, shared by neighbouring Tungusic peoples. Von Schrenk speculated that this differing attitude towards dholes was due to the Tungusic people's more nomadic, hunter-gatherer lifestyle.[40] Dhole-like animals are described in numerous old European texts, including the Ostrogoth sagas, where they are portrayed as hellhounds. The demon dogs accompanying Hellequin in Mediaeval French Passion Plays, as well as the ones inhabiting the legendary forest of Brocéliande, have been attributed to dholes. According to Charles Hamilton Smith, the dangerous wild canids mentioned by Scaliger as having lived in the forests of Montefalcone could have been based on dholes, as they were described as unlike wolves in habits, voice and appearance. The Montefalcone family's coat of arms had a pair of red dogs as supporters.[17]

Dholes appear in Rudyard Kipling's Red Dog, where they are portrayed as aggressive and bloodthirsty animals which descend from the Deccan Plateau into the Seeonee Hills inhabited by Mowgli and his adopted wolf pack to cause carnage among the jungle's denizens. They are described as living in packs numbering hundreds of individuals, and that even Shere Khan and Hathi make way for them when they descend into the jungle. The dholes are despised by the wolves because of their destructiveness, their habit of not living in dens and the hair between their toes. With Mowgli and Kaa's help, the Seeonee wolf pack manages to wipe out the dholes by leading them through bee hives and torrential waters before finishing off the rest in battle.

Japanese author Uchida Roan wrote 犬物語 (Inu monogatari; A dog's tale) in 1901 as a nationalistic critique of the declining popularity of indigenous dog breeds, which he asserted were descended from the dhole.[103] A fictional version of the dhole, imbued with supernatural abilities, appears in the season 6 episode of TV series The X-Files, titled "Alpha".

Dholes also appear as enemies in the video game Far Cry 4, alongside other predators such as the Bengal tiger, honey badger, snow leopard, clouded leopard, Tibetan wolf and Asian black bear. They can be found hunting the player and other NPCs across the map, but are easily killed, being one of the weakest enemies in the game. They once again appear in the video game Far Cry Primal, where they play similar roles as their counterparts in the previous game, but can now also be tamed and used in combat by Takkar, the main protagonist of the game.


Brian Houghton Hodgson kept captured dholes in captivity, and found, with the exception of one animal, they remained shy and vicious even after 10 months.[45] According to Richard Lydekker, adult dholes are nearly impossible to tame, though pups are docile and can even be allowed to play with domestic dog pups until they reach early adulthood.[4] A dhole may have been presented as a gift to Ibbi-Sin as tribute.[104]

See also


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External links

African wild dog

The African wild dog (Lycaon pictus), also known as the painted hunting dog, painted wolf, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog or African painted dog, is a canid native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest of its family in Africa, and the only extant member of the genus Lycaon, which is distinguished from Canis by dentition highly specialised for a hypercarnivorous diet, and a lack of dewclaws. It was classified as endangered by the IUCN in 2016, as it had disappeared from much of its original range. The 2016 population was estimated at roughly 39 subpopulations containing 6,600 adults, only 1,400 of which were reproductive. The decline of these populations is ongoing, due to habitat fragmentation, human persecution and disease outbreaks.The African wild dog is a highly social animal, living in packs with separate dominance hierarchies for males and females. Uniquely among social carnivores, the females rather than the males scatter from the natal pack once sexually mature and the young are allowed to feed first on carcasses. The species is a specialised diurnal hunter of antelopes, which it catches by chasing them to exhaustion. Like other canids, it regurgitates food for its young, but this action is also extended to adults, to the point of being the bedrock of African wild dog social life. It has few natural predators, though lions are a major source of mortality and spotted hyenas are frequent kleptoparasites.

Although not as prominent in African folklore or culture as other African carnivores, it has been respected in several hunter-gatherer societies, particularly those of the predynastic Egyptians and the San people.

Alpha (The X-Files)

"Alpha" is the sixteenth episode of the sixth season of the science fiction television series The X-Files. It premiered on the Fox network on March 28, 1999 in the United States. The episode was written by Jeffrey Bell, and directed by Peter Markle. The episode is a "Monster-of-the-Week" story, unconnected to the series' wider mythology. "Alpha" earned a Nielsen household rating of 10.1, being watched by 17.7 million people in its initial broadcast. The episode received mostly negative reviews from critics.

The show centers on FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) who work on cases linked to the paranormal, called X-Files. Mulder is a believer in the paranormal, while the skeptical Scully has been assigned to debunk his work. In this episode, Mulder and Scully investigate several killings blamed on an Asian dog called the Wanshang Dhole, thought to be extinct. Mulder and Scully join an obstinate Sheriff, a seemingly eccentric hunter, and a reclusive canine expert to find it. However, there is more mystery to the expert than meets the eye.

"Alpha" was based on a single motif—"Scary dogs in the City"—written by Jeffrey Bell onto a notecard. The episode went through several drafts before being readied right before filming began. Several of the scenes featuring the Chinese freighter were created either through digital technology or through the combination of matte paintings and actual filmed footage.


The biological family Canidae

(from Latin, canis, “dog”) is a lineage of carnivorans that includes domestic dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, jackals, dingoes, and many other extant and extinct dog-like mammals. A member of this family is called a canid (, ).The cat-like feliforms and dog-like caniforms emerged within the Carnivoramorpha 43 million years before present. The caniforms included the fox-like genus Leptocyon whose various species existed from 34 million years ago (Mya) before branching 11.9 Mya into Vulpini (foxes) and Canini (canines).Canids are found on all continents except Antarctica, having arrived independently or accompanied human beings over extended periods of time. Canids vary in size from the 2-m-long (6 ft 7 in) gray wolf to the 24-cm-long (9.4 in) fennec fox. The body forms of canids are similar, typically having long muzzles, upright ears, teeth adapted for cracking bones and slicing flesh, long legs, and bushy tails. They are mostly social animals, living together in family units or small groups and behaving co-operatively. Typically, only the dominant pair in a group breeds, and a litter of young is reared annually in an underground den. Canids communicate by scent signals and vocalizations. They are very intelligent. One canid, the domestic dog, long ago entered into a partnership with humans and today remains one of the most widely kept domestic animals.


Canis is a genus of the Canidae containing multiple extant species, such as wolves, coyotes, jackals, dingoes, and dogs. Species of this genus are distinguished by their moderate to large size, their massive, well-developed skulls and dentition, long legs, and comparatively short ears and tails.

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary

Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is located at 15°30′23″N 74°23′30″E in Uttara Kannada District of Karnataka state in India. The sanctuary covers an area of 866.41 km2 (334.52 sq mi).

Along with neighboring Anshi National Park (339.87 square kilometres (83,980 acres)), the sanctuary was declared part of the Anshi Dandeli Tiger Reserve in 2006. Karnataka state government has officially notified the Dandeli Elephant Reserve under Project Elephant on 4 June 2015. The elephant reserve is spread over 2,321 km2, including 475 km2 as core and the remaining as buffer areas. This is the second elephant reserve in Karnataka after Mysuru Elephant Reserve, which was declared in 2002.Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary is a birdwatchers paradise, housing nearly 200 species of birds, most famous for the great hornbill (great Indian hornbill or great pied hornbill) and the Malabar pied hornbill. It is also the only known tiger reserve in India to report frequent sightings of the elusive black panther. It is also known to house the Indian sloth bear, the Indian pangolin, the giant Malabar squirrel, dhole, the Indian jackal and the muntjac (barking deer). Sightings of the Indian elephant and the Indian peafowl are pretty common. The king cobra and the mugger crocodile (Indian crocodile) are the prime reptilians in Dandeli Wildlife Sanctuary.

The forests in Dandeli are a mixture of dense deciduous trees interspersed with bamboo and teak plantations.

Dhole (Cthulhu Mythos)

Dholes, also called bholes, are fictitious creatures described in the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft.

Below him the ground was festering with gigantic Dholes, and even as he looked, one reared up several hundred feet and leveled a bleached, viscous end at him.

—H. P. Lovecraft and E. Hoffmann Price, "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".

Dholes are huge, slimy worm-like creatures, at least several hundred feet long. Because they avoid daylight and are covered in viscous goo, their features are nearly impossible to discern. Similar creatures called bholes exist in the Vale of Pnath in the Dreamlands.

Now Carter knew from a certain source that he was in the vale of Pnath, where crawl and burrow the enormous bholes; but he did not know what to expect, because no one has ever seen a bhole, or even guessed what such a thing may be like. Bholes are known only by dim rumour from the rustling they make amongst mountains of bones and the slimy touch they have when they wriggle past one. They cannot be seen because they creep only in the dark.

—H. P. Lovecraft, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath.

In The White People by Arthur Machen, whom Lovecraft admired, there is mention of "Dôls", but no description is given. In The Illuminatus! Trilogy, both the Dôls of Machen and Dholes of Lovecraft are mentioned as being references to mythical creatures associated with the Illuminati.

In addition, a Dhol appears in T. E. D. Klein's novel The Ceremonies in the form of a small, scurrying creature which possesses the bodies of various characters and animals. Klein makes reference to Machen's The White People throughout his novel.

Dholes appear to be related to (or perhaps identical with) Cthulhu-mythos author Brian Lumley's chthonians and their vermiform god, Shudde M'ell. Like dholes, chthonians are huge, worm-like creatures covered in viscous slime who live deep underground.

Dhole Patil College of Engineering

Dhole Patil College of Engineering, DPCOE, Pune, is an engineering college affiliated to the University of Pune, Pune. NAAC- A+ Grade (3.38CGPA) Established in 2008 by Sagar U. Dhole Patil is a part of Dhole Patil Education Society, DPES. It is the first college in Pune to offer Undergraduate engineering degrees in Automobile Engineering. Located in natural surroundings in Wagholi, its close proximity is to the Kharadi IT Park.

European dhole

The European dhole (Cuon alpinus europaeus) was a paleosubspecies of the dhole which ranged throughout much of Western and Central Europe during the Middle and Late Pleistocene. Like the modern Asiatic populations, it was a more progressive form than other prehistoric members of the genus Cuon, having transformed its lower molar tooth into a single cusped slicer. It was virtually indistinguishable from its modern counterpart, save for its greater size, which closely approached that of the gray wolf.It became extinct in much of Europe during the late Würm period, though it may have survived in the Iberian Peninsula up until the early Holocene. One factor contributing to its extinction may have been interspecific competition with grey wolves and other wolf-like canids.

Gugamal National Park

Gugamal National Park has an area of 1673.93 square kilometers. Built in 22 february 1974, this park is located in Chikhaldara and Dharni Tehsils of Amravati District, Maharashtra, India. It is part of Melghat Tiger Reserve.


The forest in rugged and hilly area of Melghat is typical southern dry deciduous forest. This consist mainly of Tectona grandis, Ain, Tiwas, Aola, Lendia, Dhawada, Kusum are the important tree species. Bamboo is widely spread in the forests. Some orchids and strobilanthes in the upper hills. The area is rich in medicinal plants.


The area is rich in wild mammals including Bengal tiger, Indian leopard, sloth bear, Ussuri dhole, Indian jackal, striped hyena, chausinga, sambar (largest Deer on earth) gaur, barking deer, ratel, flying squirrel, cheetal (type of deer), nilgai, wild boar, langur, rhesus monkey, and macaque. Also found here are 25 types of fishes and many varieties of butterflies.

Crocodiles were re-introduced in a systematic manner in March 1990 and February 1991 in Siddu Kund in Gadga river near Dhakna and Hathikund in the Dolar river in the Gugamal National Park.


Jackals are medium-sized omnivorous mammals of the genus Canis, which also includes wolves, coyotes and the domestic dog. While the word "jackal" has historically been used for many small canids, in modern use it most commonly refers to three species: the closely related black-backed jackal and side-striped jackal of sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal of south-central Eurasia, which is more closely related to other members of the genus Canis.

Jackals and coyotes (sometimes called the "American jackal") are opportunistic omnivores, predators of small to medium-sized animals and proficient scavengers. Their long legs and curved canine teeth are adapted for hunting small mammals, birds, and reptiles, and their large feet and fused leg bones give them a physique well-suited for long-distance running, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for extended periods of time. Jackals are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk.

Their most common social unit is a monogamous pair, which defends its territory from other pairs by vigorously chasing intruding rivals and marking landmarks around the territory with their urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults, which stay with their parents until they establish their own territories. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs, for example, to scavenge a carcass, but they normally hunt either alone or in pairs.

Sardinian dhole

The Sardinian dhole (Cynotherium sardous), also known as the Sardinian fox, was an endemic insular canid, that occurred on the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia (Italy) and Corsica (France). Its range was because both Sardinia and Corsica were joined for much of the Pleistocene. It became extinct when humans began to settle on the island. Its scientific name means "dog-beast of Sardinia".

When the ancestor of this canid, a species of the wolf-sized Xenocyon lycaonoides, became confined to the island, its diet became limited to small and fast prey, such as rodents and rabbits. This lack of large prey caused the Sardinian dhole to evolve into a small sized (perhaps 10 kg) canid. This view of Cynotherium as a predator specializing in small, fast prey is supported by an examination of the animal's anatomy. The evolution of short, powerful limbs, a low neck carriage and increased head and neck mobility suggests an animal well suited for stalking and then quickly pouncing on or running down small prey.Despite its common name, Cynotherium sardous is not always listed as a relative of the modern dhole. Recent studies consider the Sardinian dhole a part of the tribe Canini and a relative of the genus Lycaon, which includes the African wild dog and the extinct Lycaon sekowei. As mentioned earlier, some species of Xenocyon are thought to be the ancestor of Cynotherium. Another hypothesis posits that the Sardinian dhole is derived from a late population of Canis arnensis (or Canis mosbachensis).

Sumatran dhole

The Sumatran dhole (Cuon alpinus sumatrensis syn. Cuon alpinus javanicus), also known as the Javan dhole or the Sumatran wild dog is a possible subspecies of dhole native to the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java. As it is also distributed in the Malayan Peninsula, it is thus also known as the Malayan wild dog.

The Banks O' Doon

"The Banks O' Doon" (Modern Scots: The Banks o Doon) is a Scots song written by Robert Burns in 1791, sometimes known as "Ye Banks and Braes" (after the opening line of the third version). Burns set the lyrics to an air called The Caledonian Hunt's Delight. Its melodic schema was also used for Phule Phule Dhole Dhole, a song by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore.

Tien Shan dhole

The Tian Shan dhole (Cuon alpinus hesperius), also known as the Siberian dhole, western Asiatic dhole, or northern dhole is a possible subspecies of dhole native to the Altai and Tian Shan mountain ranges, and possibly Pamir and Kashmir.

Ussuri dhole

The Ussuri dhole (Cuon alpinus alpinus), also known as the Indian dhole, eastern Asiatic dhole, Chinese dhole or southern dhole is a subspecies of the dhole native to East Asia. It is widespread in the Indian subcontinent and the Indochinese Peninsula. The Ussuri dhole is also native to China, however it is probably extinct in most of its ranges in China, as well as in Mongolia and the Russian Far East.

Western Forest Complex

The Western Forest Complex, straddling two countries, Thailand and Myanmar, including 19 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, is the main biodiversity conservation corridor of the region. Covering 18,730 km2, it is one of the largest protected territories in Southeast Asia. The geography of the Western Forest Complex ranges from lowlands to the mountains of the Thai highlands and the Dawna-Tenasserim Hills.Because of its large size, it supports diverse large mammal fauna, including Indochinese tiger, Indochinese leopard, dhole, clouded leopard, sun bear, 10 species of primates (all five of the region’s macaques), gaur, banteng, water buffalo, elephant, tapir, and four of Thailand's five deer species. Altogether 153 mammal species, 490 bird species, 41 reptiles, and 108 species of fish are confirmed in the area.

Wild Dog Diaries

Wild Dog Diaries is a wildlife film portraying the behaviour of wild dogs (Cuon alpinus). The film was directed by the photographer duo of Krupakar-Senani and mainly filmed in the Bandipur National Park and the Mudumalai National Park of India.

Wildlife of Bangladesh

The wildlife of Bangladesh includes Bangladesh's flora and fauna.

Bangladesh is home to roughly 53 species of amphibian, 19 species of marine reptiles, 139 species of reptile, 380 species of birds, 116 species of mammals and 5 species of marine mammals. In addition to the large bird count, a further 310 species of migratory birds swell bird numbers each year. It has the Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, hoolock gibbon, Asian black bear and other flagship species. The vast majority of these creatures currently dwell in an area of land that is some 150,000 sq kilometers in size. However this does not mean all is well with the country’s natural heritage. So far a number of creatures have disappeared completely from the country and a further 201 species are threatened. The dhole, also called the Asiatic wild dog, is now endangered by habitat and prey-species loss and human persecution. Notable animal species that have disappeared from Bangladesh are the greater one-horned rhinoceros, the Asian two-horned rhinoceros, the gaur, the banteng, swamp deer, nilgai, Indian wolf, wild water buffalo, marsh crocodile and common peafowl.

The majority of the human population lives in or around large cities and this has helped to limit deforestation to some extent. However, the growth rate continues to increase and this has placed large demands on the environment and lead to subsequent clearing of numerous natural habitats. Though several areas are protected under law, a large portion of Bangladeshi wildlife is threatened by this growth.

In 2016, conservationists surveying the super-remote, little-known Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh took the country’s first ever photos of the sun bear and gaur. Moreover, the team also captured photos of the Himalayan serow, Asian golden cat, sambar deer, barking deer, leopard cat and Dhole. Locals in the Chittagong Hill Tracts led conservationists to a new population of Arakan forest turtle. Once thought extinct, the critically endangered species was assumed only to survive in neighbouring Myanmar.


Xenocyon ("strange wolf") is an extinct subgenus of Canis. The group includes Canis (Xenocyon) africanus, Canis (Xenocyon) antonii and Canis (Xenocyon) falconeri that gave rise to Canis (Xenocyon) lycanoides. The hypercarnivore Xenocyon gave rise to the modern dhole and the African wild dog.

Extant Carnivora species

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