Meet our small, swimming bush dogs

You can find our bush dogs in the Cloud Forest exhibit, where they share their home with our Andean bears and howler monkeys. They may be small and look cute and cuddly, but bush dogs are fierce predators and will hunt in packs to lure prey to the water before they ambush. Bush dogs are semi-aquatic and, unlike other canids, have webbed toes that make them expert swimmers. If you’re visiting the zoo on a sunny day, you might see our bush dogs doggy paddling around the moat!

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Animal facts

Key facts about the bush dog

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I’m found in Central and South America

Bush dogs live near water sources in forests and wet savanna

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I’m a carnivore

In the wild, bush dogs hunt in packs to catch large rodents

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I’m also known as a ‘vinegar dog’

Bush dogs can produce a pungent smell similar to vinegar when scent marking

100,000

estimated wild population

4

average litter size

30cm

max height

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Family matters

Bush dogs are known as ‘cooperative canids’ as in the wild they live in family groups of up to 12 dogs. Bush dogs hunt in packs and lead their prey, usually large rodents such as agouti, to water where other members of the pack are waiting to ambush. They’re also very vocal and are known to communicate with each other in high pitched whines.

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An uncertain future

Like many other South American species, bush dogs are under threat from human disturbance. Their forest habitats are being cleared for agriculture and human interference is causing a decline in prey species, lessening the bush dog's food sources.

Help us care for our bush dogs