Basenji Photo

Basenji Dog Breed Info & Pictures

Meet the Basenji! This little guy isn’t going to be the tallest pup in the dog park, but don’t let their size fool you. Basenji dogs originated from Central Africa. Although they’re a hunting dog, they are technically classified as a hound by the AKC and a Sighthound and Pariah Dog by the UKC. As a hunting dog in Africa, the Basenji was used for controlling vermin and chasing prey toward the hunters’ nets.

Square in the body, but tall in the limbs, the Basenji is a graceful and athletic small dog. They are compact, with a short coat, almond-shaped eyes, and tall, triangular ears. The Basenji has a wrinkled forehead, which can be more pronounced when they’re puppies — or when they’re excited. The Basenji’s tail is tightly curled, although they can straighten their tails for balance when running at full speed. Small but mighty, Basenjis frequently surprise new owners with the power of their pull, as they’re a lot stronger than they look. Red, black, tricolor, and brindle are the standard colorations. All Basenji dogs have white feet, tail tips, and chests.

Pariah dogs also include dingos and the New Guinea Singing Dog. Basenji dogs share many traits with their rare cousins, including giving birth once a year and sharing a distinctive set of pipes! The Basenji is unable to bark, which is why they’re also called the African Barkless Dog. But don’t visit a litter of Basenji puppies and expect to find a pack of hushpuppies! The Basenji has a unique sound, which is called a “baroo.” The baroo sounds a lot like your Basenji has taken up yodelling!

The Basenji is a popular choice for dog owners who are looking for a “barkless dog,” but problems can occur if the prospective paw parent hasn’t fully researched the breed. Although the Basenji can acclimatize to apartment living easier than larger breeds, Basenjis are a unique blend of high energy and supreme intelligence. Make sure that you’re fully prepared to meet the exercise needs of this breed before adopting a Basenji puppy.

Basenji Fast Facts

13 - 14 years
Central Africa
24 lb
22 lb
Besenji, Besanji, Basengee, Basangee, Basengi, Basinji, Basengi, Basenge, Besengee
African Bush Dog, African Barkless Dog, Ango Angari, Congo Dog, Zande Dog, Congo Terrier


Although Basenjis are generally aloof with strangers, they bond very closely with their families....

The Basenji may be guilty of playing favorites with one member of the family, as the breed usually chooses one human as their BFF!

If you have a cat, or another pet in the house, reconsider adopting a Basenji. Theyre not fond of felines, and they can be guarded with other pets. If you have any rodent pets, forget about it. Basenjis have hyperactive prey drives.

If you want an easy-going couch potato, dont choose a Basenji. Anything left out in the open is considered fair game for Basenjis, who have an appetite for destruction! From your Xbox controller to your shoes, everything is on the menu when Fido is home! Although this is a non-barking dog, the Basenji yodel can include all sorts of sounds that range from a tuneful singing to a bloodcurdling scream. If you have a yard, puppy-proof it as if you owned a Husky! The Basenji may be small, but they can climb fences, and tunnel underground and they wont mind the brief zap of an electric perimeter if it means unlimited exploring!

The Basenji thrives in hot climates, although theyre not fond of the rain or cold weather. Although their diminutive stature makes them a fairly inefficient guard dog, the Basenji is loyal and courageous, and they will defend their home from an intruder with all of their tiny might. But with their inability to bark (and small stature), theyre not the best choice for a home invader deterrent.

Caring For a Basenji

The Basenji isnt hypoallergenic, but if youre fed up of fluff, this dog may be the next best thing....

A low shedder with a short and low-maintenance coat, the Basenji doesnt require strenuous grooming to keep up appearances.

The hardest part about owning a Basenji is meeting their demanding exercise needs and providing enough mental stimulation. You know that one dog who hangs on your every command and is just dying to please you at every twist and turn? The Basenji is not that dog. In fact, the Basenji would mock that dog, and then run another lap around the dog park as youre trying to wrangle them toward the exit.

Intelligence, energy, and a carefree disregard of these pesky things you call rules are all part of the Basenji breed makeup. If you can keep up with them, youll find yourself an active and affectionate companion who will be everything but boring! If you can be patient and consistent with training, a Basenji will excel at agility competitions. Basenjis also benefit from obedience training, which will stimulate their overactive imagination. Although theyll learn tricks very easily, performing tricks on demand is likely to be a different story for this stubborn dog!

The Basenji is predisposed to progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which leads to blindness. Basenjis are also prone to inherit Fanconi syndrome from a parent. Fanconi syndrome prevents the kidney tubes from absorbing important nutrients and electrolytes. Although it can be fatal, the syndrome is treatable if caught early. Veterinarians advise owners to use diabetes urine test strips to test the glucose levels of your Basenji.

Fanconi syndrome can occur as early as 3 years old, so be sure to be vigilant for any symptoms like excessive thirst and urination. As always, fully research the background of any Basenji puppies for sale, and make sure that theyre from a reputable bloodline that has shied away from breeding dogs with health issues.

Basenji History

Breed History

Basenjis are among the oldest dog breeds in the world....

A recent study researched the whole-genome sequences of dogs and found that the modern dog is a divergent subspecies of the gray wolf. The dingo and the Basenji are both basal members of the dog species, which means that their genetics are most similar to the ancient doggos.

The history of the Basenji is carved into history. Literally! Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics on the tombs of Pharoahs depict the Tesem dog, a long-legged canine with tall, triangular ears and a tightly wound tail that closely resembles the modern Basenji.

The name Basenji means small wild thing from the bush, and the Pygmy translation of that phrase sounds a lot like Basenji which is how this dog got his name from Europeans visiting Africa in the late 1800s. For thousands of years, this breed lived alongside the Pygmy tribes in Central Africa, from the Congo basin down into South Sudan. As there was no human interference with the breeding of native Basenjis, the dog has managed to retain most of the original characteristics from its ancient family tree.

There are plenty of unsubstantiated theories as to how the Basenji may have traveled from the Congo to Egypt, if their ancestors were indeed Tesem dogs. One theory mulls the possibility of the Pygmies offering the dog to the Ancient Egyptians as a gift. Another theory flips that around and guesses that perhaps the Sudanese, after winning a war with Egypt, took Basenjis home as war trophies.

What we do know is that the first breeder of Basenjis was Mrs. Olivia Burn, who took the dogs from the Congo basin back to Great Britain in the 1930s. The first few attempts were a disaster, with many dogs dying in quarantine. In 1937, Mrs. Burn succeeded and presented the first litter of Basenji puppies to a rapturous audience at Crufts in London. But it was the famous animal importer Henry Trefflich who introduced Basenjis to America. Trefflich would become famous for finding Cheeta the chimpanzee, who starred alongside Tarzan and Leo the MGM lion. Basenjis in the United States are believed to have been bred from Kindu and Kasenyi, the original Basenjis that Trefflich brought into the USA back in 1941.

Kindu and Kasenyi arrived in America with a consignment of infant gorillas, also sourced from the Congo. The two dogs made headlines upon their arrival, as both the dogs and the baby gorillas had become the best of friends while traveling together from Africa to America! Originally, 11 Basenjis were meant to arrive in the shipment, but true to the nature of the breed, the others escaped. Kindu and Kasenyi went to live in California, and in 1946, both dogs made the cover of Western Kennel Reserve magazine with an advertisement inside listing the new Basenji puppies for sale.