Wildlife Damage Management, Internet Center for

 

Title

FERAL DOGS

Date of this Version

September 1994

Abstract

Feral dog, Canis familiaris. The primary feature that distinguishes feral from domestic dogs is the degree of reliance or dependence on humans, and in some respect, their behavior toward people. Feral dogs survive and reproduce independently of human intervention or assistance. While it is true that some feral dogs use human garbage for food, others acquire their primary subsistence by hunting and scavenging like other wild canids. Feral and domestic dogs often differ markedly in their behavior toward people. Feral dogs are usually secretive and wary of people. Thus, they are active during dawn, dusk, and at night much like other wild canids. They often travel in packs or groups and may have rendezvous sites like wolves. Feral dogs are highly adaptable, social carnivores. Most are about the size of a coyote or slightly larger. Many breeds of dogs are capable of existing in the wild, but after a few generations of uncontrolled breeding, a generalized mongrel tends to develop.