The Basenji

Quick Facts

- Best for experienced dog owners
- Best with older children
- Fine with household dogs and cats
- Small size
- Medium exercise need
- Low shedding
- High guard dog abilities
- Low ease of training

Depictions of Basenji-like dogs are seen on ancient Egyptian tombs. They are one of the oldest dog breeds worldwide. They were first seen in Central Africa and made their way to England in the early 1900s. Sadly, the first dogs imported to England died from disease and distemper shots. It was not until the 1930s that a breeder was able to successfully import and breed Basenjis. They were officially recognized by the American kennel club in 1943.

The Basenji is a Sighthound and was used to hunt small game and birds. They have also been used jungle guides, pointers and retrievers.

The Basenji is probably best known for his inability to bark. They are nicknamed the “Barkless Dog“. However, they are far from silent. The Basenji does not bark but they do make a variety of other noises; they chortle, yodel and growl.

The Basenji is a very intelligent and clever breed, one that will easily outsmart the casual owner. These are not dogs to be taken on lightly, they need to be kept busy or they will become bored and get into trouble. A bored Basenji is prone to destructive behavior and wandering. The Basenji is an excellent climber. They are able to climb fences and trees and can escape from almost any yard.

The Basenji is a fine choice for the city dweller and adapts well to apartment living provided they are given adequate exercise. They are playful active dogs that need to get out for at least an hour or so of exercise daily. Due to their hunting heritage, they are chasers by nature so care should be taken when allowing them off lead, they can be gone in an instant in pursuit of game. The Basenji does very well at many of the organized dog sports and trials. Owners might enjoy entering them in; lure coursing, scent hurdles, flyball, agility and obedience trials, and conformation shows.

As a family pet, the Basenji is loyal and affectionate, though they do tend to bond closely with one particular person. Most Basenji do well with children when raised with them, but some find the rough play of youngsters a bit difficult to deal with. They usually do well with other household dogs and cats, especially when they grow up with them, but they are not trustworthy around small animals and can be aggressive with strange dogs.

The Basenji is usually aloof with strangers; they are very alert and always courageous and make fine home guardians. They are independent dogs who are capable of making their own decisions and need an experienced owner who will train and socialization them thoroughly. They need a solid pack leader who will be firm and consistent and will stay one step ahead of this very clever breed.

Appearance and Grooming:
With their upright ears, wrinkled foreheads and curled tails, Basenji are unique-looking dogs. They are around 16 inches at their shoulders and weigh up to 24 pounds when full grown. They are very clean odorless dogs that need only a quick brushing once a week. They are available in black and tan, chestnut red, black or brindle.

Basenjis are prone to PRA, anemia, eye problems, digestive upsets, hernia and respiratory problems. Due to the fact that they are a very primitive breed, females only go into heat once a year and their diet should include some green vegetables. They do not take well to cold temperatures and will need protection during the winter months. They are very sensitive to chemicals and can suffer liver problem if exposed to them regularly, owners are best to use environmentally safe products in their homes. Their average life span is around 13 years.


Located in: Sighthounds