Black-backed jackals are small, fox-like canids and are the smallest of the three species called jackal. The general colour is reddish-brown to tan, while the flanks and legs are redder. Males tend to be more brightly coloured than females, particularly in their winter coat. The back is intermixed with silver and black hairs, while the underparts are white.
Black-backed jackals are omnivores, which feed on invertebrates, such as beetles, and other insects. They will also feed on mammals, such as rodents, hares and young antelope.