Bush Dog

(Speothos venaticus)




Facts about this animal

The bush dog is a small, stout dog, more like a mustelid (badger). It is uniformly dark brown in colour with short legs. The head-body length is 60-65 cm, the height is 25-30 cm and it weights 6-8 kg. It has a snub-nosed head with short ears (3.5 cm).


At the shoulders, the brown-reddish colour of the head turns into the dark brown of the rest of the body. The under parts are also dark. The coat is short and coarse. The tail is very short, well-furred and black.


The bush dog is a cooperative hunter of the Neotropical rainforest, feeding mainly on rodents that are large relative to its own size. It is social and, for intraspecific communication mainly employs short-distance signals, which promote approach behaviour (tail-wagging), reduce intraspecific aggression (displays of active submission), and allow the maintenance of constant contact in the forest (the squeak vocalization).

Did you know?
That female bush dogs mark their territory by reversing up to trees and urinating on the trunk from a handstand position? In bush dogs both, males and females, scent mark their territory with urine. Males do it, like domestic dogs, by cocking a hind leg at 90 degrees.


Name (Scientific) Speothos venaticus
Name (English) Bush Dog
Name (French) Chien des buissons
Name (German) Waldhund
Name (Spanish) Cachorro de mato vinagre
Local names Brazil: Cachorro-do-mato-vinagre
CITES Status Appendix I
CMS Status Not listed



Photo Copyright by
Markus Bonnevier



Range South America
Habitat This species occurs in a variety of habitats, generally near water sources.
Wild population Approx. < 10'000
Zoo population 137 registered by the International Studbook (end of 2004). 100 reported to ISIS (2007)

In the Zoo

Bush Dog


How this animal should be transported

For air transport, Container Note 82 of the IATA Live Animals Regulations should be followed.


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Why do zoos keep this animal

The bushdog is a vulnerable species with a relatively small wild population. With a view of building up a viable self-sustaining zoo population, an International Studbook has been established already in 1972 under the WAZA umbrella, and coordinated conservation breeding programmes are operated at the regional level by AZA and EAZA.