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Bush Dog

Speothos venaticus

  1. Not Evaluated
  2. Data Deficient
  3. Least Concern
  4. Near Threatened
  5. Vulnerable
  6. Endangered
  7. Critically Endangered
  8. Extinct in the Wild
  9. Extinct

About Us

Bush dogs are a distinctive member of the canid (dog) family. They are found from Panama in Central America, through much of South America, east of the Andes and as far south as central Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil. 

They inhabit lowland forest, semi-deciduous forest and seasonally flooded forest, but also tropical and wet savannahs. Bush dogs live in family groups where only the alpha female will breed. A pack can consist of up to 15 individuals from three or four litters. 

Central and South America
Semi-deciduous forests, near water
Up to 30cm shoulder heigh and 57cm in length
5 - 7kg
Gestation Period
60-70 days
Sexual Maturity
10 months old
Habitat destruction due to farming and development; conflict with humans; poaching; spread of disease from introduction of domestic dogs

Physical Features

Bush dogs are small canids, native to south America. They can grow to weigh up to 18lbs and have short legs and a short snout. 

The animals are semi-aquatic and their webbed feet allow them to swim and dive in water. 


Like all canids, bush dogs are carnivores and will hunt small rodents and mammals such as agouti, as well as lizards and birds. 


Social Structure and Communication

Bush dogs live in family groups with only the alpha-pair breeding. A pack can consist of up to 15 individuals from 3 or 4 litters; all members of the family are responsible for protecting, cleaning and helping to transport the pups. 

Subordinate members of the pak will help with the rearing and guarding of the young pups. 


Husbandry and Enrichment

The water pool in the bush dog enclosure allows the animals to take a swim, which suits their semi-aquatic lifestyle. Their webbed feet make them agile in the water. 

The pair may also build burrows out in the enclosure, under the ground. This is most likely when nesting. 

Threats and conservation

Destruction of habitat and deforestation are the main threats facing bush dogs out in the wild. 

The IUCN has listed this species as 'Near Threatened'. 

Fun Facts

Bush dogs produce a strong scent which some people believe smells like vinegar. This has led them to be known locally as 'cacharro vinegre'; the 'vinegar dog'.

Pack mates keep in contact with frequent whines.

While earing large prey, parents position themselves at either end of the animal, making it easier for the pups to disembowel the prey.