Adopt a Painted Dog

A century ago, around 500,000 painted dogs roamed the African continent. Today, just 1,400 remain in the wild.

Painted dogs are one of the world’s most endangered mammals, with as few as 1,400 left in the wild. Once widespread across much of the African continent, their range has been reduced to a few, small, final strongholds in southern and eastern Africa. In the past, it was not unheard of for packs of up to 100 animals, but today’s painted dogs are often found in family groups of between seven and fifteen members. 

These carnivores have a rich, diverse diet ranging from gazelles to small birds. They play an important role in providing balance in the ecosystem and fortifying prey populations by removing sick and weakened individuals. As painted dog numbers continue to rapidly decline, the delicately balanced ecosystems they inhabit are thrown into disarray.  

Painted dogs often fall victim to human-wildlife conflict. With so few of them left, it’s unlikely they are responsible for livestock killings, yet they often get blamed for attacks by hyenas, leopards, and other predators. Many are poisoned or shot by farmers, looking to protect their livelihoods. 

Habitat loss is one of the biggest factors affecting painted dogs. And, with only pockets of their former population surviving, painted dogs also become highly vulnerable to diseases like rabies and distemper.  

When you adopt a painted dog through DSWF, you equip the rangers we support and fund with everything they need to patrol these protected areas, rescue snared animals, and act as a deterrent to poachers and hunters. 

How your adoption could help painted dogs

  • Just £3 per month (or £36 per year) could provide vital equipment for those working on the front line to fight wildlife crime.
  • Only £5 per month (or £47 per year) could educate future generations about the importance of nature and inspire the conservation leaders of tomorrow.
  • With £10 per month (or £60 per year) illegal snares, which could injure or kill critically endangered painted dogs, could be removed.

What’s included?

  • Adoption Pack: You’ll get a personalised certificate, a species fact sheet and animal bio sheet, a photograph and a copy of our latest Wildlife Matters magazine.
  • Painted Dog Print: A beautiful painted dog sketch by talented wildlife artist Matthew Polluk, Wildlife Artist Of The Year 2022 Finalist.
  • Painted Dog Toy: Optional hand-knitted painted dog toy made by Little Ndaba, a women’s community group in Zambia.

Our adoption packs are only available to be posted within the UK. Alternatively you can opt to receive a digital adoption pack via sent email (print and toy not included).

Threats to the painted dog population 

Illegal hunting and poaching 

Our frontline conservation partners working in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe, recently reported that every single adult in the pack there, have had to be rescued from illegal poacher snares. As many as ten such incidents were reported in a single month.  

Habitat loss

As the human population continues to expand, the infrastructure they bring with them – such as roads, farms, and settlements, encroaches further into vital painted dog habitats. No longer able to roam freely, their populations are becoming increasingly fragmented and isolated across their range. 


As painted dog numbers have fallen, so has the genetic diversity of the species as a whole. This directly impacts their ability to fight viral diseases such as rabies and distemper. In isolated packs, these diseases rip through them at epidemic levels, and can even result in small populations and geographic extinction. 

Human-Wildlife conflict

As a predator, painted dogs attract unwanted attention from farmers, who attribute livestock deaths to these cunning pack hunters, even when other predators are to blame. Highly vocal and curious, painted dogs are easier targets than more dangerous livestock killers like lions and hyenas, and are often poisoned or shot for crimes they didn’t commit. 

How Painted Dog Adoption Helps

Sponsoring a painted dog helps fund projects working with local communities to monitor their movements, reduce poaching, and raise awareness of the threats they face. In addition, your support can help us:  

  • Fight wildlife crime by keeping anti-poaching teams in the field and funding law enforcement programmes in Zimbabwe 
  • Protect painted dogs through regular patrols to remove snares and ward off potential poachers 
  • Engage school children in our immersive bush camps, inspiring a whole new generation of wildlife warriors 

Meet our Painted Dog species ambassador, Swift

adopt a painted dog
Image credit: Painted Dog Conservation

Meet Swift, our species ambassador for painted dogs. Swift is the son of Crescent from the Broken Rifle pack on the Ngamo plain. He is now four years old and with his three brothers (Fleet, Trigger and Flight) he has left his birth pack and is on the search for his own pack in the Hwange National Park.

By adopting Swift, you are helping to protect painted dogs from snares by keeping anti-poaching teams in the field. Snares are set by poachers for bushmeat, but painted dogs are sadly indiscriminately caught. Unfortunately Swifts father Crescent sadly fell victim to a snare in 2016 but thanks to the monitoring and protection in place by ranger teams in the area he was saved and nursed back to health before being released back to his pack.

Why your adoption is so important

For the last 20 years, DSWF has been supporting a stronghold population of painted dogs in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

Painted dogs are true creatures of the wilderness and need large swathes of land to survive. Human encroachment into these wild spaces means painted dogs are now threatened by roadkill, diseases passed on from domestic dogs like rabies and increasing pressure to share shrinking resources with other larger predators, like lions and spotted hyena.

Unquestionably, With so few painted dogs left in Africa, these nomadic predators need our help now more than ever before.

We aim to dispatch all orders within 7 working days. Parcels are sent 2nd class untracked with Royal Mail. International delivery is unavailable.