Dhole [Asiatic Wild Dog]

Dholes or Asiatic Wild Dogs are often seen in the news. They are a species found in India in several parts. In this article you can read all about the Dholes, their habitat, IUCN status, and other details. This topic is relevant for the environment and ecology segment of the UPSC syllabus.


Dholes are canid species found in eleven Asian countries.

  • The scientific name of Dholes is Cuon alpinus
  • Other names include Asiatic wild dog, Asian Wild Dog, Indian wild dog, whistling dog, and red dog.
  • Conservation Status of Dholes:
  • It is a social animal that lives in a clan of usually twelve individuals. 
  • In India, Dhole is found in three clusters:
    • Western and Eastern Ghats
    • North East India
    • Central Indian Landscape
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Source: Deccan Herald

Features of Dholes

  • Dhole combines the physical features of the gray wolf and the red fox. It has a long backbone and slender limbs like a cat.
  • It has a wide and massive head giving it a hyena-like appearance.
  • Adult females weigh 10 to 17 kg whereas adult males weigh 15 to 21 kg.
  • The general tone of the fur is reddish. However, the brightest hues might occur in winter.
  • The throat, chest, flanks, and belly and the upper parts of the limbs have a slightly yellowish tone.
  • The tail is fluffy with a brown tip.
  • They produce a whistling sound and are thus called whistling dogs. They can also whine, chatter, growl, scream, and have yapping cries. Notably, Dholes do not bark or howl like wolves.
  • Dhole lives in a clan of 5 to 12 individuals instead of packs (groups that always hunt together). However, clans of 40 individuals have also been reported in some places.
  • They are more social than wolves and intragroup fighting is rarely observed. They do not mark their territory like other canids.
  • Dhole clans can contain more than one breeding female (unlike wolf clans). Moreover, more than one female can den and rear their litters together in the same den.
  • The gestation period of the species is usually 60 to 63 days, with litter sizes averaging four to six pups. The litters remain at the den site for 70 to 80 days.
  • They are diurnal hunters and hunt in the early hours of the morning.
  • They can tolerate scavengers in their kill. The mother and children are provided regurgitated food by other pack members.
  • Prey animals for Dholes in India are Sambar deer, Chital, Wild Boar, Water Buffaloes, Cattle, Goats, Monkeys, etc.
  • Dholes do not attack humans and can eat lizards and insects. They can also eat fruits and vegetables.
  • They have dietary overlap with Tigers and Leopards. However, competition is avoided through prey selection.
  • It should be noted that Dhole packs are smaller in areas with higher tiger densities as tigers can directly kill dholes in a single paw strike.
  • Dholes can suffer from various diseases like rabies, canine distemper, etc.

Dhole Distribution and Habitat

  • They are found in Pakistan, Tibet, and North Korea apart from India.
  • In Central Asia, they inhabit mountainous regions.
  • In countries like China, India, Indonesia, and Myanmar, Dholes inhabit forested areas in alpine zones. They are rarely sighted in plain regions.
  • They are also found in Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Thailand.
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Source: WCS-India

Threats to Dholes:

  • In order to protect livestock, people killed Dholes in India. However, they are now given protection under Wildlife Protection Act 1972.
  • The persecution of Dholes still continues in India in certain regions through hunting, poisoning, snaring, etc.

Dhole Conservation:

  • Dholes are protected under Schedule II of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
  • The first Dhole conservation breeding centre is at the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park, Visakhapatnam (sanctioned in 2014).

Dholes in Indian Culture:

  • In the coping stone of Bharhut Stupa (100 BC), three dhole-like creatures are seen waiting by a tree with a woman/spirit.

Dhole [Asiatic Wild Dog]:- Download PDF Here

Related Links
World Animal Welfare Day (4 October) | UPSC Notes Mouse Deer
Tiger Conservation in India Indian Leopard
Indian Wolf Natural Vegetation & Wildlife


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