The African golden wolf is a small member of the dog family, with a relatively long muzzle and ears and a short tail. The color of the fur varies from individual to individual and also according to season and geographical location, though yellowish to silvery gray is the usual color, with slightly reddish legs and a black speckled tail and shoulders. Markings on the face, throat, and abdomen are usually white, with amber colored eyes. Females have between two and four pairs of teats. Superficially similar in look to the Eurasian golden jackal (especially the East African animal), the muzzle of the African golden wolf is more pointed and its teeth are sharper and more robust. It also has longer ears and a higher forehead.
The African golden wolf is commonly found in Africa in the north-east and north-west, in the east from Senegal to Egypt, and throughout Libya, Algeria, and Morocco in the north, and in the south to Chad, Nigeria, and Tanzania. It is a canid that has adapted to the desert and is common throughout plains and steppe areas, even where there is not much water.
The African golden wolf's social organization is very flexible, and differs according to the food that is available. The breeding pair is the basic unit, along with its current offspring, and perhaps members of previous litters staying on as "helpers". Big groups are rare, only observed in areas where there is much human waste. Relationships within African golden wolf families are comparatively peaceful. The wolves will lie with each other and groom each other. They are more active in the daytime. These animals are very territorial, with the pair patrolling and marking their territory in tandem. Both of the partners, as well as their helpers, will behave aggressively towards intruders, in particular those of the same sex. Partners do not help each other repel intruders which are the opposite sex.
African golden wolves eat small prey, including hares, rats, grass cutters, ground squirrels, snakes, lizards and ground-nesting birds, francolins and bustards among them. They also eat many insects, including dung beetles, termites, larvae, and grasshoppers. They will also hunt young gazelles, warthogs and duikers, and eat animal carcasses, fruit and human refuse.
African wolves are monogamous. Their courtship rituals are extremely long, during which the pair stay almost constantly together. Before mating, they patrol and mark their territory with scent. In the Serengeti (in Eastern Africa), babies are born from December–January. They begin to eat solid food after one month, weaning beginning at two months old and ending at four months. By then the pups can venture up to 50 m out from the den, being semi-independent, sometimes sleeping in the open. The mother feeds the pups more often than the father or helpers do, though having the helpers means that the parents may go off to hunt while the litter is looked after. The playing behavior of the pups becomes increasingly more aggressive, as they compete for rank, this being established after six months.
The main threat to the African golden wolf is the loss of their habitat. As the human population grows, it results in the expansion of roads, settlements, and agriculture, which threatens this species. Losing their habitat, African golden wolves invade human settlements, where people consider them a danger to livestock and poultry, and kill them as pests.
The African golden wolf population number is unavailable at present from open sources and its conservation status has not been evaluated.
As African golden wolves consume garbage and animals’ carcasses, they play a very important role in the ecosystem as scavengers. They also control increases in rodents and insects numbers, consuming them as prey items.