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Other names: African Bush Dog, African Barkless Dog, Ango Angari, Congo Dog, Zande Dog, Congo Terrier


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The Basenji is a medium-sized hunting dog. It was bred from other hunting and pariah dog in central Africa and remains quite rare in the west. The Basenji is a compact little dog with a playful and curious nature. Their most distinguishing characteristic is its unusual bark, which has been described as more of a yodelling sound. One theory is that the early African tribes selected against loud or persistent barkers, as the noise could give away their position to rival groups, especially at night. Despite not gaining much popularity in the UK, Basenjis make excellent family pets, although they can be a little difficult to train.

Key facts about the Basenji

Life expectancy :





Temperament :

Playful Hunter

Size :

Origins and history

George Schweinfurth was first westerner to come into contact with the Basenji. He was researching the Niam Niam tribe in central Congo, who used packs of Basenjis as hunting companions. Not only was he surprised by the breeds superior tracking abilities, but he also made a note of their unusual bark, which the locals described as a “baroo” noise. The Basenji shares many of the same characteristics as Pariah dogs, half-feral pack dogs that survive on the outskirts of human settlements in developing countries. Basenjis are nowhere near as domesticated as most other breeds. In fact, these dogs are a real link between our modern household pets and their wild ancestors. Several attempts were made to introduce the breed into Britain and the Western world.  However, given the long distances in transporting them and their unfamiliarity with the British climate, the first batches of Basenjis suffered several health problems and failed to develop. It wasn't until the 1930s that a foundation stock was established in the UK, from which their numbers and popularity began to grow. This culminated in 2001 when a Basenji named Jethard was named best in show at crufts.

FCI breed nomenclature

FCI Group

Group 5 - Spitz and primitive types


Section 6 : Primitive type

Physical characteristics of the Basenji

    Adult size

    Female : Between 15 and 17 in

    Male : Between 16 and 18 in


    Female : Between 20 and 22 lb

    Male : Between 22 and 26 lb

    Coat colour

    Type of coat

    Eye colour



    The Basenji is a unique looking dog. It’s medium-sized canine with a combination of big and small dog characteristics. Their heads are quite small in relation to the rest of their body, which is sturdy, athletic, and well balanced. They have long necks, a high head carriage, and pointy ears, which gives them an alert posture and quizzical posture.

    Good to know

    Although they’re very social animals, Basenjis tend to form an exceptionally strong bond with one member of their human family. 

    Like many intelligent dogs, the Basenji has a low tolerance for bored, which can soon turn into frustration.

    It can be quite hard to find a well bred Basenji, especially in the UK. Take extra care and do as much research as possible before purchasing one of these dogs. A poorly bred Basenji is likely to develop serious health complications. These will be expensive to treat and extremely distressing for both dog and owner.

    Females only go into season once a year. This is normally around the beginning of autumn.

    The  Basenji is known by many other names in its native Congo, including dog of the villagers, the wild dog, dog of the bush, and M'bwa M'kube M'bwawamwitu, which literally translates as the jumping up and down dog.


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      The Basenji is a very affectionate dog that loves spending time with their favourite humans. But they can be a little independent and will sometimes need a bit of alone time. So try not to overwhelm them with affection. They’ll come and ask for some when they’re ready.

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      Hunting dogs have active minds as well as active bodies;  regular playtime is vital for their overall wellbeing. These active, intelligent dogs love stimulating games and activities.

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      These working dogs are always on the alert. Unless they’ve been well-trained, their high-energy natures can soon become hyperactive, especially around strangers and other dogs.

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      These dogs are very smart. They need the right kind of training and stimulation to be mentally satisfied. Walks and games need to be interesting and challenging. If not, the dog will soon become bored and frustrated, which may manifest as "bad " behaviour.

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      The Basenji is a natural born hunting dog. Even by dog standards, they have an excellent sense of smell and are capable of covering huge distances in a short space of time. Such deep-rooted instincts are not suited to urban living. These dogs need to live near wide open areas in which they can roam and explore.

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      Fearful / wary of strangers

      The Basenji can be wary of strangers and may seem a bit shy or reserved.

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      The Basenji is capable of looking after itself. Much like cats do, these dogs clean themselves on a regular basis. They’re also very skilled hunters, making them well-equipped to survive independently.

      Behaviour of the Basenji

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        Tolerates solitude

        These dogs deal will solitude much better than most other canines. However, no dog should be left without company for long periods of time. Dogs are social animals; they need companionship from other dogs or humans.

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        Easy to train / obedience

        This depends on the ability and knowledge of the trainer. An inexperienced handler will have a very tough time keeping this dog focused. According to the author of the Intelligence of Dogs, the Basenji is the second most difficult dog to train.

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        Basenjis are often referred to as barkless dogs or silent dogs. And even when they do “bark”, it sounds more like a low yodelling noise. In other words, the Basenji is a perfect choice for owners looking for a “quiet” dog.

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