The Dog Family

There are three species of the dog family found in Lebanon, 2 quite common and 1 very rare. Details below:

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The Golden Jackal (Canis aureus syriacus).

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 A Lebanese Golden Jackal in captivity at Animal Encounter.

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The Golden Jackal

(Canis aureus syriacus)

Status: The Jackal is relatively common throughout a range of habitats in Lebanon.

Description: This species strongly resembles a wolf, but is much smaller (head and body measure approximately 69 cm), more slender, and has proportionately bigger ears. It has a tawny or golden coat as suggested by its Latin name (“aureus�? means golden).

Habitat: Jackals are found in a wide variety of habitats. In the daytime they hide in dense thickets, holes or caves. During winter, snow causes them to move to lower altitudes.

Habits: Jackals are mostly nocturnal but are also active around sunrise and sunset. Very opportunistic feeders, they are known to eat anything from fallen fruit to small livestock to carrion. Socially, they associate as mated pairs in small family groups of around five individuals, although larger groups are not unheard of. Jackals communicate by howling, and are referred to in Arabic as “ibn awee�? (son of the howl). They breed in early spring and use more than one den. Gestation is about two months, and litter size ranges from one to nine.

Distribution: Golden Jackals are widely distributed throughout Southern and Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia Minor, Russia, India, Burma, China and the eastern Mediterranean region.


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A Lebanese Wolf in captivity at Animal Encounter.


(Canis Lupus pallipes)

Status: The wolf is extremely rare in Lebanon, with the total population being only a handful of individuals. (See Conservation)

Description: Similar in appearance to the Jackal but generally much larger (head and body measure approximately 89 cm), the wolf resembles a large German Shepherd dog, but with a thicker head and broader neck. A wolf’s size and color of fur can vary significantly by region. They have relatively short tails and long ears that stand upright.

Habitat: During the daytime, these canines often retreat to caves, thickets, reed beds, or their burrows. They have a very large home range (up to 1000 km square) and can adapt to a variety of habitats, but generally prefer open areas with cover nearby.

Habits: Wolves are mostly nocturnal animals. They hunt individually, in pairs, or in packs depending upon available prey. In the Middle East, wolves tend to hunt individually or in pairs because the size of their prey is usually not larger than a gazelle. They are opportunistic feeders, and their food includes a variety of vertebrates including livestock, foxes and dogs. They will eat fruit or vegetable matter if nothing else is available, and have even been known to feed at garbage dumps. Mating occurs in the spring; gestation is around 63 days. Young are raised in a den and litter size ranges from three to seven.

Distribution: Wolves are widely distributed but rare throughout the northern hemisphere from North America to Japan. They are also widely distributed but very rare in the Middle East.

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A Lebanese Red Fox in captivity at Animal Encounter.

Red Fox

(Vulpes vulpes palaestina)

Status: The Red Fox is common throughout a variety of habitats in Lebanon.

Description: Foxes are generally smaller than jackals (approximately 54 cm from head to tail), much smaller than wolves, and can be recognized by their long, bushy white-tipped tails and narrow muzzles. Despite their name, Red Foxes can be quite variable in color. Here in Lebanon they tend to be reddish brown, but in the eastern deserts they are much paler and yellowish.

Habitat: This highly adaptable mammal can be found in a wide range of habitat including fields, reed beds, forested hillsides, barren rocky areas of high elevation, and any where in between. Red Foxes tend to build their dens in rocky areas and crevices, or may make burrows in softer soil.

Habits: The Red Fox thrives around human development because of decreased predators and increased food supply. Like other canines they are highly opportunistic, feeding on such things as rodents, birds, insects, reptiles, hedgehogs, scorpions, fruits, berries, and even garbage. They are most active at night and will often bury their prey for later consumption. The Red Fox breeds in winter from January to February; gestation lasts about 52 or 53 days and litter size is usually four to five individuals.

Distribution: The Red Fox is widely distributed throughout North America, Europe, Asia, Northern India, Palaeartic Africa, Indochina, Japan and the Middle East.