Basenji Information & Dog Breed Facts

Collection of all the general dog breed info about Basenji so you can get to know the breed more.

Group Hunting Dogs
Popularity Rank84
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Basenji dog profile picture
OriginDemocratic Republic of the Congo flagDemocratic Republic of the Congo
Other Names
What other names does the Basenji have?
African Barkless DogAfrican Bush DogAngo AngariCongo TerrierZande DogCongo Dog
Breed Type
What type of dog breed is it?
Purebred

Basenji Price and Availability

Price
How much does the Basenji puppy cost? What is the price range of this puppy? What is the average price of this dog in the United States? How much money is a Basenji?
$1000-$1200
If you choose to purchase the Basenji, you should know that the mentioned amount of money is an average of the collected data from breeders’ sites and puppy finder places. If you have a Basenji for sale, please advertise it on a reliable website to make sure the Basenji gets to a happy place.
Availability
How easy is it to get a Basenji? How many Basenji are there in the world?
Very frequent: The Basenji is quite easy to get. There is a risk of overbreeding, as it is an extremely popular breed.

Inbreeding is common because of its popularity. A new study suggests that inbreeding contributes to the incidence of disease and health problems.

So be careful, buy from a trustworthy place or kennel and seek the help of an experienced person, a professional, to make the right decision.

Basenji Size

Size
Is a Basenji small, medium or large dog?

How big do Basenji get?

Medium
Weight
How much does the Basenji weigh? How much should the Basenji breed weight? What is the normal weight of a Basenji?
Male: 22-26 pounds (10-12 kg), Female: 20-25 pounds (9-11 kg)
Average Weight
What is the average weight of a Basenji?
Male: 24 pounds (11 kg), Female: 22.5 pounds (10 kg)
Height
How tall is the Basenji? Basenji height:
Male: 16-17 inches (41-43 cm), Female: 15-16 inches (38-41 cm)
Average Height
What is the average height of a Basenji?
Male: 16.5 inches (42 cm), Female: 15.5 inches (39.5 cm)

Basenji Grooming, Hair and Care

Coat / Hair Types
What type of coat does the Basenji have? What does this canine coat/fur look like?
Fine
Colors
What color is the breed's coat? What color is a proper Basenji's coat?
WhiteBrindleTanRedBlack
Grooming
How to groom the Basenji and how often?
Effortless: The Basenji requires minimal grooming. Seasonal flea treatment is needed, but cutting the dog's hair by a professional groomer isn't necessary.

Ears and eyes should be cleaned sometimes to avoid infections. Basenji is one of the best choices if you don't have the time, skill, or money to take care of a high-maintenance dog.

Highly recommended for beginners.
Shedding Level
How much do Basenji dogs shed? How to control, reduce and prevent the shedding of the African Barkless Dog?
Basenjis shed none to minimal. Having a puppy from this breed you don't have to be afraid of your couch or car being covered by dog hair. Basenji dogs could be the best choice if you don't tolerate dog hair.
Bath Time / Bathing Frequency
How often does the Basenji need a bath? How often should bathe this dog? Can I bathe my Basenji every day?
3-4 weeks
More often than average. These dog coats tend to be longer, softer, and oilier than short-haired breeds. While a good bath every now and then is a great way to keep your buddy from becoming overly smelly, be mindful about overbathing.

Bathing will wash away your dog’s natural oils, while a simple brushing every few days should keep them clean.

Basenji Personality / Temperament

Temperament
What kind of personality does the Basenji have? What characteristics or traits does the breed have?
AffectionateCuriousPlayfulAlertEnergeticIntelligent
Intelligent Rank
How smart is the Basenji? Is the Basenji breed dumb or smart?
Low: The Basenji is one of the dog breeds that have the lowest degree of obedience intelligence. You need to work hard if you want to impress people with these dog tricks and commands. They understand and memorize new commands in 80-100 repetitions, and obey the first command 25% of the time or better.
Trainability
Are Basenji dogs easy to train? Do they go well on dog training?
Basenjis are easy to train. They find out the association between commands and actions quite quickly.
Playfulness
How playful is this breed?
Average: Basenjis, like any other dog breed, like playing. Sometimes they bark in excitement for playing, but they are not the most playful dog breed.
Sensitivity Level
How sensitive are they? Basenji sensitivity:
Basenjis have an average emotional level and are not the most sensitive dog breed. Sometimes it's okay to change the daily routine, have guests and listen to loud music.

Some dogs handle moderate punishment very well, while others crumble apart at a dirty look. This breed is not affected emotionally by moderate punishment.

Affection Level
How affectionate are they? Is a Basenji a good family dog?
Slightly Below Average: Basenjis may seem unfriendly sometimes due to their independence. Their happiness doesn't depend on their owner's emotional level.
Social Needs
How much social interaction does the African Barkless Dog need? Basenji social needs:
Basenjis are kinda antisocial. This breed doesn't like being around people all the time, they tolerate being left alone.
Barking
Do Basenji dogs bark a lot? Are they barkers/noisy? Why does my African Barkless Dog bark?
Low: The Basenji barks none to minimal. Perfect choice if you prefer a quiet breed.

Top reasons for barking: protection, alarm, fear, boredom, attention-seeking, greeting, separation anxiety, compulsive barking.

Watchdog Ability
Is Basenji good as a watchdog? Are they alert at night?
Basenjis are one of the best watchdogs. Their main job is to observe and they're very consistent in their effort. The best vocal cords and sense of hearing belong to them. Usually, they're very territorial and protective about their property, so the Basenji dogs will alert you if they sense something different.
Guarding Behavior / Territorial
Do Basenji dogs have aggressive behavior to protect their home/house/territory? Do they have guarding instincts?
Basenjis are average defenders. Some dogs are very protective of their territory, while others easily let a stranger to trespass. This breed is not sure to defend its territory in every situation.
Biting Potential
Do Basenji bite humans? How likely are you to get bitten from the African Barkless Dog? What are the odds of getting bitten by a Basenji? Why do dog bites happen?

Low 🔽

The Basenji has a low chance of biting somebody. Top reasons for dog bite: protection, pain, excitement, herding instinct, being provoked. (Data based on the available online bite statistics.)
Bite Force
Does the Basenji has a hard bite? What is the bite force of a Basenji? How much bite force does a Basenji have?

Between 200 and 400 PSI

Basenji bite force: Ordinary. Average dogs have a bite force between 200 and 400 PSI.

The Basenji, and many others, have a fearsome presence because they have significant jaw strength, so it is important not to anger the dog and have it around strangers until it is fully trained.

However, they are usually quite calm and good companions, they work well in families and are easy to care for.

Mouthiness
How much mouthing/nipping/play biting does the Basenji do?
Basenjis have a strong tendency to nip, chew, play-bite, or herd people. It's a common habit during puppyhood, not aggressive behavior. These "bites" don't hurt, but Basenjis need to be taught for a good attitude.
Impulse to Wander or Roam
How likely is the Basenji to run away? Does this breed explore or wander a lot? Does Basenji roam?
Basenjis have high wanderlust potential, which means that this breed has a strong desire for exploring the world. Safer to walk them on a leash unless you teach them how to get back to you on command. This breed is also able to cause damage to your fence.
Prey Drive
Do this canine have a strong prey drive? Does Basenji have high prey drive?
Basenjis have a high impulse to chase and catch something. Cats or any other small animals are in danger. It's a natural instinct, doesn't necessarily mean that Basenji dogs are aggressive. Better to keep this breed on a leash.
Apartment Friendly
Is Basenji good as an apartment dog? Can they live in a flat?
It is not recommended to keep the Basenji breed in the home. It does best in the garden, but if you do want to keep it indoors, it should be exercised thoroughly with long daily walks, so you can keep the Basenji indoors by introducing daily routines.
Adaptability
Are they adaptable and easy-going?
Average: Basenjis adapt to lifestyle changes and different living environments quite okay usually.
Tolerates Being Left Alone
How long can a Basenji be left alone?
Basenjis handle alone time quite well. They are not prone to have separation anxiety.

Basenji Good With

Stranger Friendly
Are they aggressive or friendly towards/with strangers? Basenji temperament with other people:
Basenjis are not the most stranger-friendly dogs.
Pet Friendly
Are they pet-friendly dogs? How well do Basenji dogs get along with other pets? Are Basenji dogs good with pets? What is this canine temperament with other pets?
Basenjis usually don’t get on well with other pets.
Child Friendly
Are Basenji dogs kid-friendly? Are they good with young children? Basenji temperament with children:
Basenjis are kid-friendly dogs. This breed is a good choice if you have children.
Cat Friendly
How well do Basenji dogs get along with cats? Are they good with kittens? What is this fido's temperament with cats? Can they be good with cats? Can the Basenji breed live with a cat?
Basenjis are not the most cat-friendly dogs.
Dog Friendly
Is Basenji good with other dogs? Are they dog-friendly dogs? How well do Basenji dogs get along with other dogs?
Basenjis are not the most dog-friendly dogs. If you want more dogs in your family or you'd like to join dog meetups, the Basenji is not a good choice.
Good For First Time Owners
Is Basenji breed good for first-time owners? Do they make a good dog for novice owners? Is Basenji breed suitable for first-time owners?
Yes
Basenjis are good for novice owners, due to their easy-going personality.
Office Friendly
Are Basenjis good office dogs? Do Basenjis make good office friendly dogs? Can Basenjis be office dogs?
No
Basenji is not the best dog breed for office environment.
Senior Citizens Friendly
Are they senior citizens friendly dogs? How well do Basenji dogs get along with the elderly people? What is the African Barkless Dog temperament with senior people? Are Basenji dogs good for elderly owners?
Basenjis are usually recommended for elderly people.

Basenji Health

Health Issues
Is it a healthy or unhealthy breed? Do Basenji dogs have health problems or genetic diseases?
The Basenji is a healthy breed, but there are certain health issues that you should check with your vet regularly.
Health Problems
What genetic/health problems does the Basenji breed have? What are the health issues and concerns of the Basenji breed? Most common health risks of Basenji:
Kidney IssuesProgressive retinal atrophy (PRA)Eye Problems
Veterinarian Visits
How often does the Basenji breed need to go to the vet? How often should you take your dog to the vet? How often should the Basenji see the vet?
Average
The Basenji should have a complete physical check-up at least once per year. If your dog shows any symptoms, call your veterinarian.
Life Expectancy
How long do Basenji dogs live? How old can a Basenji be? What is the age limit of the Basenji? How many years can the oldest Basenji live?

What is the average life expectancy / lifespan of a Basenji?

10-12 years
The average lifespan of Basenji: 11 years
Hypoallergenic
Is the Basenji breed hypoallergenic?
No
Basenjis don't do well with allergy sufferers by causing allergic reaction. Some of the dog breeds are even considered to higher the possibility of an allergic response. Coat type isn't necessarily relevant, because most people are allergic to dander (flakes on the dog's skin) or saliva, not actually to dog hair.
Energy Level
How much energy does the Basenji have? What is the activity level of the Basenji?
Basenjis are high-energy dogs. An active lifestyle makes them happy.
Activity Requirement / Exercise Need
How much exercise does a Basenji need? How much exercise do Basenji dogs require per day?
Basenjis need quite a lot of exercise. Daily walks should be on schedule. If you live an active life, this breed can be a good choice for you.
Sleeping Need
How much sleep does the Basenji breed need?
Basenjis don't need too much sleep. They are energetic and desire to live an active life. If you think naps are overrated, this breed can be the best choice for you.
Average daily food consumption
How much food does a Basenji need? What dog products should I buy? How much food does a Basenji breed eat per day? What is good dog food for Basenji? How much food should I feed my Basenji?
3/4 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food a day, divided into two meals.
Weight Gain Potential / Prone to Obesity
How easy to gain weight for this dog? Basenji risk for obesity:
Low to Average: The Basenji has a low to the average risk for obesity. To make your dog happy and fit, feed him with quality dry dog food and live an active life together. Try to find the happy medium between exercise and feeding.

If you notice any weight change, consult your veterinarian to make a meal plan, and measure the Basenji's weight regularly.

Weather and Climate
Which weather condition is preferred by this dog? Can they tolerate hot or cold weather and climate?
Prefers warm weather
Dogs that prefer warm weather conditions are typically breeds that were originally bred in warmer climates.
Stinkiness
How stinky is this dog? Why does it smell bad and how to get rid of the smell?

Low 🔽

The Basenji has a low chance of bad smell. Top reasons for dog stinkiness: infection of bad tooth/ear/skin folds, gas attacks.
Drooling Tendency
Does the Basenji drool?
The Basenji is a perfect example of a low drooling tendency. If you dislike being covered by slobber spots on your clothes, the Basenji could be a good choice for you. Drooling is the unintentional saliva flowing outside of the mouth. It can be completely normal or a sign of a health problem. Certain dog breeds drool less than others, just like the Basenji.

If you notice any change in your dog's drooling habit, you should contact a vet as soon as possible.

Basenji As a Working Dog

Service Dog
Are they good as service dogs? Can Basenji be a guide dog? Are they used as seeing-eye dogs?

Not really

This breed generally not used as a service dog. A service dog is a term used in the USA to refer to any type of assistance dog specifically trained to help people who have disabilities, such as visual impairment, hearing impairments, mental disorders, seizures, mobility impairment, and diabetes. Service dogs are protected under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act).

Basenji is not the best breed for service purposes.

Therapy Dog
Are they good as therapy dogs? Can Basenji be a therapy dog? Are they good anxiety dogs? Can a Basenji be an emotional support animal?

Not really

This breed is generally not used as a therapy dog. A therapy dog is a dog that might be trained to provide affection, comfort, and love to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and people with anxiety disorders or autism.

Basenji is not the best breed for therapeutic purposes.

Detection Dog or Sniffer Dog
Are they good as detection dogs? Can Basenji be a sniffer dog?

Not really

They are not typically employed for this type of work, but there may be exceptional cases. A detection dog or sniffer dog is a dog that is trained to use its senses (mostly its smell) to detect substances such as explosives, illegal drugs, wildlife scat, currency, blood, and contraband electronics such as illicit mobile phones.

Basenji is not the best breed for detection purposes.

Search and Rescue Dog (SAR)
Are they good as SAR dogs? Can Basenji be a search and rescue dog?

Not really

This dog breed is not typically used as a search and rescue dog. The use of dogs in search and rescue (SAR) is a valuable component in wilderness tracking, natural disasters, mass casualty events, and locating missing people.

The Basenji is not the best breed for SAR purposes.

Boat and Sailor Dog
Are they good as boat dogs? Can Basenji be a boat dog?

Not really

Basenji breed usually doesn't like being on a boat.

Boat dogs were typically bred for their strength, stamina, and water resistance, as they were often required to perform tasks such as pulling in fishing nets, and jumping into the water to retrieve ropes or lines, or helping to move cargo.

Sailor dog is a type of dog that was bred to accompany sailors on their voyages. They were typically used for three purposes: as a working dog, a watchdog, and as a companion. A boat dog is a term used to describe a type of dog that was traditionally bred and used as a working dog on boats.

Cart Pulling or Drafting Dog
Are they good as cart pulling dogs? Can Basenji be a drafting dog?

Not really

A drafting dog or draft dog is a dog bred and used for cart pulling. Dogs bred for this work have strong builds and qualities that are needed, strength and determination.

Basenji is not the best breed for drafting purposes.

Fighting Dog / Military Dog
Where Basenji dogs used as fighting / military dogs in history?

Yes

In history, this breed was unfortunately used for combat dogs. A combat dog is a specially trained dog that is used in warfare to help protect military personnel and assets. Combat dogs are often deployed in areas where there is potential for contact with the enemy, such as during raids or search operations. Combat dogs are typically assigned to either infantry or special operations units. They are used for a variety of tasks including area security, sentry duty, trackers, and explosive detection. In addition to their combat roles, combat dogs also play an important role in troop morale by providing companionship and emotional support.

Basenji Reproducibility

Gestation Length
How long is a Basenji pregnant?How long does it take to have puppies? How to tell if the Basenji breed is pregnant?

60-64 days

Reproductive cycle of the female Basenji: The first period called Proestrus lasts for about 9 days.

During this time the females start to attract males. You can notice by swelling vulva and bloody discharge.

The second part is the Estrus when the female is receptive for the male. It lasts for about 3 to 11 days.

The sign of the proestrus part is the soft and enlarged vulva. The discharge decreases and lightens in color.

The third part is the Diestrus. Normally, it occurs around day 14. In this period the female’s discharge changes for vivid red and coming to its end. The vulva returns to average, and she will no longer permit mating.

The fourth part called the Anestrus. The time frame between heat periods normally lasts about six months.

Litter Frequency

Once a year.

More frequent breeding is not healthy. It is very important not to buy a dog from a puppy mill, where the needs of the pups and their mothers are ignored. It's an inhumane high-volume dog breeding facility, where puppies born several times a year.
Litter Size
How many puppies can the Basenji have in a litter? How many puppies can the Basenji breed have for the first time? How many puppies does a Basenji have? How many puppies can a Basenji give birth to?
4-5 puppies

Basenji Recognition

AKC Group
Is Basenji recognized by the American Kennel Club?
Recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1944 as a Hound breed.
FCI Group
Is Basenji recognized by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI)?
Recognized by FCI in the Spitz and primitive types group, in the Primitive type section.
Breed Recognition
What kennel clubs and organizations recognize or register the Basenji breed?
Canadian Kennel ClubDog Registry of America Inc.Kennel Club of Great BritainNorth American Purebred Registry, Inc.American Canine Association, Inc.Australian National Kennel CouncilContinental Kennel ClubNational Kennel ClubNew Zealand Kennel ClubUnited Kennel ClubCanadian Canine RegistryAmerican Pet Registry, Inc.

Basenji Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Trainability: Basenjis are easy to train.
  • Grooming: Effortless: The Basenji requires minimal grooming.
  • Shedding Level: Basenjis shed none to minimal.
  • Drooling Tendency: The Basenji is a perfect example of a low drooling tendency.
  • Stinkiness: The Basenji has a low chance of bad smell.
  • Weight Gain Potential / Prone to Obesity: Low to Average: The Basenji has a low to the average risk for obesity.
  • Watchdog Ability: Basenjis are one of the best watchdogs.
  • Tolerates Being Left Alone: Basenjis handle alone time quite well.
  • Child Friendly: Basenjis are kid-friendly dogs.
  • Senior Citizens Friendly: Basenjis are usually recommended for elderly people.
  • Good For First Time Owners: Basenjis are good for novice owners, due to their easy-going personality.
Cons
  • Intelligent Rank: Low: The Basenji is one of the dog breeds that have the lowest degree of obedience intelligence.
  • Hypoallergenic: Basenjis don't do well with allergy sufferers by causing allergic reaction.
  • Apartment Friendly: It is not recommended to keep the Basenji breed in the home.
  • Mouthiness: Basenjis have a strong tendency to nip, chew, play-bite, or herd people.
  • Impulse to Wander or Roam: Basenjis have high wanderlust potential, which means that this breed has a strong desire for exploring the world.
  • Cat Friendly: Basenjis are not the most cat-friendly dogs.
  • Dog Friendly: Basenjis are not the most dog-friendly dogs.
  • Office Friendly: Basenji is not the best dog breed for office environment.

Basenji History

Introduction

Scientific research has officially confirmed what Basenji enthusiasts have long suspected, Basenjis are one of the oldest breeds of dogs on this earth.

They are regarded as the most attractive and intelligent of all breeds by their admirers. The Basenji captures its owner’s affection whether it’s hunting, proudly posing in the sun, or receiving hugs.

 

Origins and early history

Drawings of pariah-type dogs can be found in various hunting scenarios in prehistoric cave paintings discovered in Libya between 6000 BC and 100 AD.

The Egyptians had Basenjis as shown by relics from as early as 3000 BC. Their curled tails and prick ears are clear and they appear to be wearing the typical hunting bells still used in Africa. Moreover, Dr. Schweinfurth traveled to Africa around 1868 and wrote about domestic animals.

Among the different dogs, he found and illustrated that there is one which is surely the Basenji. He found the dogs that were clearly Basenjis among people who were hunters rather than pastoralists.

According to explorers and authors, Basenjis were found many times with the Pygmies. Pygmy peoples are ethnic groups whose average height is unusually short.

Moreover, this breed had survived in Africa for millenniums as they were excellent hunting dogs and provided their owners with a good amount of food.

The Basenji produced an unusual yodel-like sound, due to its unusually shaped larynx. This trait also gave the Basenji the nickname: ‘Barkless dog’.

 

Name

In the native Lingala language, the Azande and Mangbetu people of the northeastern Congo region refer to Basenjis as “mbwá na basnzi”.

This translates to "dogs of the savages" or "dogs of the villagers." The Basenji is also known as the "dog of the bush" in the Congo.

“M'bwa m'kube,'mbwa wa mwitu'” (Wild dog), or “dog that jumps up and down,” is another local term, referring to their inclination to jump straight up to spot their prey.

 

Basenjis migrate from Africa

The first Basenji-like dogs that made it from Africa to Europe were seen in the 1880s. They were first called Congo Terriers and a standard was created.

However, they were somewhat different in look from the traditional ideal Basenji. The first dogs to be exhibited appeared at Crufts in 1895 and were called African Bush Dogs or Congo Terriers.

Several attempts were made to bring the breed to England, but the earliest imports succumbed to the disease.

In 1923, for example, Lady Helen Nutting brought six Basenjis with her from Sudan, but all six died from distemper shots they received in quarantine.

It was not until the 1930s that foundation stock was successfully established when finally in 1936 Mrs. Olivia Burns successfully imported Basenjis to England and started breeding them.

Moreover, additional imports from Africa to England began between 1938 and 1939 before the war years interrupted the breed’s development.

It was Miss Veronica Tudor-Williams who made heroic efforts to keep the breed alive in England during the difficult times.

 

Basenjis in America

Basenji fanciers in the US and Canada leaped into the breed with enthusiasm from the earliest opportunity. Two of the first Basenjis were called Bakuma and Blean in 1937.

Interestingly Bakuma somehow came into the possession of early fanciers Mr. and Mrs. Al Phemister who renamed him Phemister’s Bois.

Bois became very significant in early breeding in America as he was the father of the first American Kennel Club champion. In 1941, they saw the importation of dogs directly from Africa to the United States by animal importer Henry Trefflich.

It is likely that nearly all the Basenjis in the Western world are descended from the few original imports. Moreover, the breed was officially accepted into the AKC in 1943, and in the year 1951 151, Basenjis were registered at the kennel club.

The popular movie “Goodbye, My Lady” gave a boost to the breed’s popularity and by 1957 the numbers were up to 651. In 1990 the AKC studbook was reopened to 14 new imports at the request of the Basenji Club of America.

It was believed at that time that those dogs would be the final imports. However, in 2008, the Basenji Club of America petitioned again and the studbook was open for an additional five-year period.

In 2009, 10 additional dogs, imported from Africa, were registered. Unfortunately, according to the AKC, the popularity of the Basenji in the United States has declined over the past decade, with the breed ranking 71st in 1999, decreasing to 84th in 2006, and to 93rd in 2011.

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Basenji Comments, Reviews and Questions

  • Stephan Ebol

    Jul 26, 2021, 9:07:24 PM:

    Basenji IS an hypoallergenic dog. It is precisely the reason why i could adopt one, following the advice of my veterinarian.

  • Khloe Towler

    Nov 19, 2020, 5:49:23 PM: