MINIMUM AZA GUIDELINES FOR KEEPING
MEDIUM AND LARGE CANIDS IN CAPTIVITY

Jack Grisham
Oklahoma City Zoological Park
2101 NE 50 St.
Oklahoma City, OK 73111

Roland Smith
Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium
5400 North Pearl St.
Tacoma, WA 98407

Chuck Brady
Memphis Zoological Garden and Aquarium
2000 Galloway Ave.
Memphis, TN 38112
 


 

INTRODUCTION

 

   Within the family Canidae, determination of minimum husbandry needs of medium (20-35
   lb/9-16 kg) and large (over 35 lb/16 kg) species is variable because of differences in size,
   morphology and behavior. In this discussion, medium or large canids are defined as any
   species of canid belonging to the genus Canis, including the side-striped jackal, Canis
   adustus; golden jackal, C. aureus; black-backed jackal, C. mesomelas; Simian jackal, C.
   simensis; coyote, C. latrans; red wolf, C. rufus; dingo, C. familiaris dingo; gray or timber
   wolf, C. lupus; domestic dog, C. familiaris (and timber wolf x dog hybrids); as well as the
   dhole, Cuon alpinus; maned wolf, Chrysocyon brachyurus; and African wild dog, Lycaon
   pictus.

   All canid species are cursorial. In addition, all canid species form a pair bond which is an
   exclusive male/female association during the breeding season. In canids, the pair bond
   usually extends throughout the pup-rearing period. These two factors make most species of
   canids particularly susceptible to the development of stereotypic, abnormal behavior such as
   pacing when confined to small enclosures or when isolated from conspecifics. Modern
   methods of contraception and the fact that canids are seasonally monestrous make it
   relatively easy to house male/ female pairs together for most of the year, even when
   reproduction is not desirable. Care must be taken in the design of all housing, however, to
   insure that animals cannot escape or dig out. Caution should also be exercised when handling
   otherwise "tame" individuals.
 
 
 

                       GENERAL REQUIREMENTS
 

   Some aspects of captive management for all medium and large canids are similar and
   discussed below. Requirements unique to certain groups are listed separately.

     A.Temperature - Although medium and large canids originate fromall manner of
        climates, most species are tolerant of broad temperature extremes, at least during
        daylight hours. Animals kept outside should always have access to shade, especially
        during warmer parts of the year. When acclimated, most species without young only
        require minimal, unheated shelters at night; in cold climates, wooden pallets should be
        provided for sleeping to prevent the loss of body heat. Dens should be dry, small, and
        cramped. If animals are given spacious dens, smaller "hide" boxes should also be
        provided. These smaller boxes enable individuals to retreat or fend off conspecifics.
        When breeding is a possibility, a separate den or hide box should be present for each
        pregnant female. All artificial shelters for tropical species should have a space heater
        for use in winter. Most temperate zone canids are well adapted for winter weather
        although supplemental heat encourages females to give birth within the den area. It
        also provides a warm dry area regardless of the rest of the enclos ure. In spacious
        enclosures, canids often dig several extensive subterranean dens.

     B.Lighting - Natural lighting is optimal for all species of canids. When needed,
        fluorescent lighting is an efficient light source for full-spectrum illumination.

     C.Ventilation and Humidity - Indoor exhibits should have a negative air pressure, with a
        regular air change of non- recirculated air. Relative humidity should be within the
        range of 30-70%. Separate air handling systems should be maintained between the
        visitor and animal exhibit area to prevent possible disease transmission and complaints
        about odor.

     D.Water - Fresh clean water for drinking should be available at all times. Watering
        devices should consist of either built-in devices or sturdy portable containers.
        Regardless of size, water containers should be cleaned and disinfected daily. Some
        canids enjoy bathing and swimming, and pools should be incorporated into outdoor
        enclosures, space permitting.

     E.Sanitation - Hard-surface enclosures, pallets, and food containers (if used) should be
        cleaned daily with detergents and disinfectant. Dirt substrates in outdoor exhibits
        should be raked and spot-cleaned daily. Foot baths should be used prior to entering
        and exiting all canid enclosures or areas containing enclosures. Each should be filled
        with a disinfectant and its use strictly adhered to by all personnel.

     F.Enclosure dimensions - Enclosure sizes vary according to species and social group.
        As a general rule, a single large canid should have an enclosure measuring at least 10
        ft. (3.1 m.) x 15 ft. (4.6 m.). or 150 sq.ft. (14 sq.m.). For each additional animal, the
        enclosure should be increased by 50%.

        A single medium canid should have an enclosure measuring at least 8 ft. (2.5 m.) x 12
        ft. (4.7 m.) or 96 sq. ft. (9 sq. m.). For each additional animal, the enclosure should
        be increased by 50%.

     G.Barriers - Perimeter barriers should be least 8 ft. (2.5 m.) high and include an
        inward-facing overhang, the top protected by either electric cable or a 45-degree
        overhang. In addition to vertical barriers, all perimeters should also have either a
        concrete footing or horizontal protective mat around the entire enclosure. Most
        medium- and large-sized canids are prolific diggers and can easily tunnel under a
        chainlink fence. Where feasible, enclosures should be designed without square
        corners.

     H.Food - Medium and large canids are easily maintained when fed commercially- or
        custom- made diets. Commercial preparations containing all necessary vitamin and
        minerals are readily available, or may also be custom-made by the holding institution.
        On a daily basis, canids require 1-3 kg. of high quality, low-fat diet per 25 kg. of
        body weight. Whole animals used as feed should be limited to freshly killed carcasses,
        and should be removed at regular intervals. Diets containing high percentages of fowl,
        and especially ones containing chicken or turkey necks, should be avoided due to
        inadequate levels of calcium and phosphorus.

        The quantity of rations fed will also depend on individual condition and whether or not
        feeding is communal or done on an individual basis. Where communal feeding is
        practiced, weights of subordinate animals and juveniles must be closely monitored.
        Obesity also occurs where communal feeding is practiced, and fasting all members
        one day a week may be used for weight control.

        Milk substitutes used to hand rear infants should be specifically formulated for canids.
        Milk replacers should contain low levels of lactose to prevent eye problems.

     I.Veterinary Care - Services of an experienced veterinarian should be available to all
        holders of non-domestic canids. When circumstances permit, an overall examination
        should be performed annually, and blood samples collected, serum banked as a
        baseline control, and the results recorded. Fecal examinations should be made twice a
        year to check for parasite infestation. Infant canids are especially susceptible to
        parasite infection and should be screened monthly during their first six months. Routine
        deworming with a broad spectrum antihelminthic at six and eight weeks of age is
        highly recommended. Preventative heartworm medication should be given to all canids
        housed in areas where this parasite is prevalent, and an occult heartworm test
        performed annually.

        All canids should receive annual prophylactic vaccinations for protection against
        canine distemper and parvovirus; modified live virus (MLV) products should be used.
        For protection against rabies, wild canids should be vaccinated with a killed virus
        (KV) product. Vaccination for leptospirosis, parinfluenza, and hepatitis is not
        generally required but if deemed necessary, should be given, and from KV products
        only. If MLV products are used for vaccination, vaccine-induced cases of these
        diseases may result.

        Fleas can be a problem in some areas and should be controlled by spraying the
        enclosure with an approved commercial insecticide.
 
 
 
 

                       ADDITIONAL LITERATURE
 
 

   Brady, C.A. and M.K. Ditton 1979. Management and breeding of maned wolves
   (Chrysocyon brachyurus) at the National Zoological Park, Washington. INTER. ZOO
   YEAR. 19: 171-176.

   Clutton-Brock, J.; Corbet, G.B.; and M. Hills 1976. A review of the family Canidae, with a
   classification by numerical methods. BULL. OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM 29: 117-199.

   Corbett, L. and A. Newsome 1975. Dingo society and its maintenance: a preliminary
   analysis. In: THE WILD CANIDS (M. Fox, ed.). Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY: 369-379.

   Davidar, E.R.C. 1975. Ecology and behavior of the dhole or Indian wild dog (Cuon
   alpinus). In: THE WILD CANIDS (M. Fox, ed.). Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY: 109-119.

   Frame, L.; Malcolm, J.; Frame, G.; and H.J. Van Lawick 1979. Social organization of
   African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) on the Serengeti Plains, Tanzania 1968-1978. Unpub.
   manuscript.

   Ginsberg, J.R. and D.W. Macdonald 1990. FOXES, WOLVES AND DOGS: AN
   ACTION PLAN FOR THE CONSERVATION OF CANIDS. IUCN/SSC Specialist
   Group, Morgues, Switzerland.

   Kleiman, D.G. and C.A. Brady 1978. Coyote behavior in the context of recent canid
   research: Problems and perspectives. In: COYOTES (M. Bekoff, ed.). Academic Press,
   NY: 163-190.

   McMormick, A.E. 1983. Canine distemper in African cape hunting dogs (Lycaon pictus)
   possibly vaccine induced. J. ZOO ANIMAL MED. 14: 66-71.

   Mech, L.D. 1970. THE WOLF. Natural History Press, NY.

   Moehlman, P.D. 1983. Socioecology of silver-backed and golden jackals (Canis
   mesomelas and Canis aureus). In: ADVANCES IN THE STUDY OF MAMMALIAN
   BEHAVIOR, AM. SOC. MAMMAL. 7: 423-453.

   Scott, J. 1991. PAINTED WOLVES: WILD DOGS OF THE SERENGETI-MARA.
   Hamish-Hamilton, London.

   Sheffey, B.E. 1985. NUTRIENT REQUIREMENTS OF DOGS. National Research
   Council Report, National Academy Press, Washington, DC.

   Smith, R. 1984. STUDBOOK OF THE RED WOLF (Canis rufus gregoryi). Point
   Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, Tacoma, WA. pp. 1-25.

   Stains, H.L. 1975. Distribution and taxonomy of the Canidae. In: THE WILD CANIDS (M.
   Fox, ed.). Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY: 3-26.

   Wandrey, R. 1975. Contribution to the study of the social behavior of the captive gold
   jackals (Canis aureus). Z. TIERPSYCHOL. 39: 365-402.

   Winslow, S. 1986. The management of red wolves (Canis rufus) at Audubon Park.
   AAZPA REGIONAL PROCEEDINGS: 109-111.

   Zimen, E. 1976. On the regulation of pack size in wolves. Z. TIERPSYCHOL. 40:
   300-341.