The Short-eared Dog has been found in scattered sites from Colombia to Bolivia and Ecuador to Brazil. Its presence in Venezuela was suggested by Hershkovitz (1961) but never confirmed. Various studies have suggested the presence of the species throughout the entire Amazonian lowland forest region, as well as Andean foothill forests in Ecuador and Peru up to 2,000 m (Emmons and Feer 1990, 1997; Tirira 1999; A. Plenge pers. comm. 2002).
For the 2004 assessment, museum specimens were re-checked and an extensive survey of field biologists doing long-term research in the species' putative range was carried out, constructing a distributional map based only on specimens of proven origin and incontrovertible field sightings (Leite Pitman and Williams 2004). This map has been refined with subsequent sighting records (M.R.P. Leite Pitman pers. obs.). The northernmost record is in Mitú, Colombia, at 1º15'57"N, 70º13'19"W (Hershkovitz 1961), the southernmost in Bolivia at 14°25'47.9994"S, 63°13' 47.9994"W (R. Wallace pers. obs.), the easternmost record is from the vicinity of Fazenda Amanda, Viseu, Brazil, at 01º52'S, 46º44'W (Pereira 2002), and the westernmost in the Rio Santiago, Peru, at 4º37'S, 77º55'W (Museum of Vertebrate Biology, University of California, Berkeley, collected 1979).
A single specimen [MACN 31.59 held in the Museo Argentino de Ciencias Naturales “Bernardino Rivadavia”. (MACN). Colección de Mamíferos] collected on 4 June 1930 is documented as coming from western Pichincha in Ecuador (O.B. Vaccaro pers. comm.). A detailed locality is not provided and it is likely that it is mislabelled; the same collector collected another specimen on 30 July 1930 east of the Andes in Ecuador (specimen also in MACN). However, if the locality is correct, this would be the only record of the species west of the Andes and would mean that the species also previously occurred in the Chocó.
A specimen in the Santa Cruz Natural History Museum labelled as Atelocynus microtis, was genetically analysed and found to be a specimen of Cerdocyon thous (L. Emmons, pers. comm. 2008) which highlights the potential for misidentification between the two species in areas of savannah-forest ecotone in southern Amazonia (where the two species coexist).
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