Black-backed jackals have a dark saddle on the back, which runs from the nape of the neck to the base of the tail. They have a black, bushy tail and reddish flanks and limbs; standing about 400 mm at the shoulder and a meter in total length. The adult males are on average larger and heavier than females. Males have a mean mass of about 8 kg and females, 7 kg. The black-backed jackal is lighter in appearance than the side-striped jackal. The head is dog-like, with a pointed muzzle and high upstanding, pointed ears.