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Basenji Facts

  • Group
  • Hound
  • Affiliations
  • Height
  • 16" - 17" (40.6 - 43.2cm)
  • Weight
  • 20 - 25lbs (9 - 11.3kg)
  • Lifespan
  • 12 years | Add yours

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  • Exercise Requirement
  • High - This breed requires vigorous daily activity
  • Training Requirement
  • Difficult to Train
  • Grooming Requirement
  • Easy
  • Colors
    • Black
    • White / Tan
    • White / Black
  • Breed Characteristics
    • Can be trained as a watch dog or guard dog
    • Good with children
    • Hunting heritage
    • Should sleep indoors

True Cost Of Ownership

Alternate Names

The Basenji is also known as Congo Dog, African barkless dog, and Pharaoh's dog.


The Basenji originated in Zaire, Africa.

Date Of Origin

The exact date of origin is unknown, however the first traces of a dog resembling the Basenji are found within Egyptian tombs and wall drawings as far back as 3600 BC. It is thought that the Besenji may very well be one of the oldest breeds still in existence.


The Basenji is a descendant of the earliest pariah dogs and was used for hunting as far back as 3600 BC. Basenjis in Africa were assistants to the hunt, chasing wild game into nets for their masters. Known for it's hunting prowess in its native Central Africa, the first Basenjis were brought from the source of the Nile as gifts to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. The Basenji's silence while tracking game help to make it an efficient hunter.

When the Egyptian civilization declined, the breed became rare, but was maintained in a pure state in it's native country of Zaire. The breed has maintained its original form for centuries, and was "rediscovered" in the Congo around 1936, when a few specimens of the breed were imported to England. These dogs were used in hunting, pointing, retrieving, and bolting prey.

The Basenji was successfully introduced to England in 1937 and the first litter of pups was raised to maturity in America in 1941. The Basenji was recognized by the AKC in 1944 and by the UKC in 1948.


The Basenji is a medium size, lightly built but muscular dog that is shorter than it is tall. It has a flat, head with a forehead wrinkle that gives it the appearance of being worried. The dark hazel to dark brown eyes are almond shaped and the nose is black. It has small, erect ears and an arched neck. The tail is carried high and curled and the feet are small and compact. The coat is short and fine. The feet, chest, and tail tip are white.


The Basenji is an intelligent, alert, and independent dog. It is affectionate with its family and with children, but protective and wary with strangers. It is alert and curious with fastidious, catlike qualities.

Although the Basenji is known as the "barkless dog", it is not without sound. While generally quiet by nature, the Basenji will produce a yodel-like sound commonly called a "barroo" and can be quite noisy when excited. This sound is due to its unusually shaped larynx.

The Basenji is a hound, equipped with sharp eyesight and a remarkable scenting ability, which hunts by using both sight and scent. It is not well-suited for structured obedience work. Although an instinctual hunting dog, the Basenji is docile with humans. The Basenji may chase cats and can be dog aggressive.

The Basenji requires a high level of activity to be happy and healthy. He will need to be walked and also allowed time to run inside a safely fenced area, preferably until tired.

Positive, early training can help Basenjis be more comfortable around people outside their family and teach important household rules. Although the breed is quick to learn and intelligent, the Basenji is not always compliant and may be difficult to train. Positive reinforcement training will help the Basenji to enjoy training and learn to take direction. This breed can be very difficult for a first-time dog owner looking for a compliant dog.


The Basenji has been used in hunting, as protection, and as a companion for thousands of years. In Africa, the Basenji is used as a guide in the forests, to warn against the approach of dangerous animals, and as a hunter of small game. Today in Europe and America, the Basenji is still used in all areas however he is more commonly found as a companion.

Health Concerns

Possible health concerns for the Basenji include anemia, hernias, hip dysplasia, PRA and other eye problems, renal problems, and thyroid problems.

Additional Information

Grooming is simple and includes brushing once weekly with a soft-bristled brush. An interesting fact is that most breeds of dog have 2 breeding cycles per year, but like the wolf, the Basenji only has one.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Simon & Schusters Guide to Dogs

Publisher: Simon & Schuster inc, 1980

Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com

Author: Elizabeth Meriwether Schuler

Dog Bible

Publisher: BowTie Press, 2005

Website: http://www.bowtiepress.com/bowtie/

Authors: Kristin Meuh-Roe, Jarelle S. Stein

The Howell Book Of Dogs

Publisher: Wiley Publishing Inc, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Author: Liz Palika

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