The main characteristic of the black-backed jackal, which gives it its name, is the black hair running from the back of the neck to the tail (Van Valkenburgh 1994). The chest is white, and the under parts are white to rusty-white, whereas the rest of the body ranges from reddish brown to ginger in appearance. Adults stand about 38cm at the shoulder and are nearly a meter long in length. The head is dog-like, with a pointed muzzle and high pointed ears.
The winter coat of male adults develops a reddish to an almost deep russet red color. Females tend to be less richly colored (Ginsberg 1990). Sexual dimorphism does exist; males tend to be larger than females, but this difference is small.
Range mass: 5 to 10 kg.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger
Average basal metabolic rate: 21.533 W.