In many social species, relationships within groups seem to be non-random but related to variables such as rank, kinship or sexual attractiveness. The endangered African wild dog Lycaon pictus is a social carnivore that lives in large, stable packs, and intra-pack associations might be expected to display similar patterns. We investigated patterns of coalition formation (support during dominance interactions, and partnership interactions) and resting associations between members of a captive pack of 19 wild dogs. The social organization of the captive pack was similar to that of free-ranging packs in many respects. Polyadic (group) incidents of coalition support were also observed in a free-ranging pack. Patterns of coalition formation in the captive pack were related to rank. Most aggressive interactions involved high-ranking individuals (particularly the alpha, beta and third-ranking males) and coalitionary support tended to reinforce the existing hierarchy. However, there was at least one example of support influencing a successful rank challenge. Support was affected by potential risks and benefits, the latter including dominance through association and revolutionary alliances. An even stronger pattern overlaid associations between pack members: coalitions and resting associations were strongest between members of the same age–sex cohort, and may have enabled the eventual dominance of younger pack members over adults. Among adults, coalitionary associations were sometimes overridden by intersexual relationships. The results from this captive pack suggest that wild dogs are sensitive to differences in competitive ability. This information, in conjunction with strong affiliative bonds between littermates, is used to manoeuvre for position in the social hierarchy. It may also be important during dispersal, in encounters with other dispersing groups of the same sex. Although most features of the social structure of the captive pack were comparable to those of free-ranging packs, aspects such as the influence of relatedness on coalition formation still need to be explored.