Basenji Dog Breed

The dog world is brimming with diverse breeds, each with its own unique charm. But some stand out for their peculiar traits, and the Basenji is undoubtedly one such breed. 

Nestled in the heart of Africa’s rich landscapes lies a breed of dog that’s as unique as it is ancient. The Basenji, often referred to as the “barkless dog,” is a fascinating breed that has captured the hearts of many with its intelligence, athleticism, and distinct personality. This elegant hunter from Africa holds an air of mystery, but beneath that seemingly aloof exterior lies a playful and intelligent companion waiting to be discovered. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the world of Basenjis, exploring their history, characteristics, care needs, and much more. So, let’s uncover the secrets of this remarkable canine companion together.

Let’s begin. 

Basenji Overview 

What is a Basenji?

  • Imagine a dog with the grace of a gazelle and the spirit of an adventurer. That’s Basenji in a nutshell. 
  • Bred for centuries in Central Africa, these hounds are known for their independent spirit, athletic prowess, and, of course, their unusual vocalizations. 
  • The Basenji is a small to medium-sized dog breed known for its distinctive appearance and personality traits. 
  • Basenji bark is not as loud, as they usually express themselves through a repertoire of yodels, howls, and even “chattering” sounds.

Basenji Breed Overview

Breed Group: Hound Group

Origin: Central Africa

Height: 16–17 inches

Weight: 22-24 pounds (10-11 kg)

Lifespan: 12-16 years

Coat: Short, fine

Coat Colors: Red, Black, Tricolor, and Brindle

Temperament: Intelligent, independent, and alert

Needs for Grooming: Low

Hypoallergenic: No

Basenji History

Basenji Dog in Park
  • The Basenji is one of the oldest known dog breeds, as it boasts an ancient lineage, tracing its roots back to Central Africa. 
  • These “pariah dogs” are naturally occurring canines that live alongside humans.
  • They were highly prized for their hunting abilities, and were often used to track game through dense forests.
  • Distinct physical characteristics, like their wrinkled forehead and curled tail, suggest a connection to Asian Spitz breeds, hinting at a fascinating migration story.
  • Basenjis were also valued for their companionship and were often kept as treasured pets by royalty and nobility.
  • Their official introduction to the Western world came in the early 20th century, captivating breeders with their elegance and unique traits. 
  • The American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the Basenji dog breed in 1941, solidifying its place as a cherished companion breed

Basenji Appearance

What does a Basenji dog look like? 

  • Standing at a height of 16-17 inches and weighing around 40 pounds, the Basenji is a small to medium-sized hound with a compact and athletic build.
  • Their most striking feature is their wrinkled forehead, which becomes more pronounced with age, giving them a wise and expressive look. 
  • These canines have almond-shaped eyes, typically dark brown, and radiate intelligence and curiosity.
  • The Basenji puppies have a short, sleek coat in various vibrant colors. 
  • Another distinct characteristic is their tightly curled tail, which often curls up over their back – a unique feature shared with other ancient dog breeds.

Here is the general size table of the breed:

Basenji BreedHeight (at the Shoulder)Weight
Male16-17 inches (40.6 – 43.2 cm)40-45 pounds (18.1 – 20.4 kg)
Female15-16 inches (38.1 – 40.6 cm)35-40 pounds (15.9 – 18.1 kg)

How big does a Basenji get? 

Here is the growth chart of the full grown Basenji dogs:

AgeMale WeightFemale WeightMale HeightFemale Height
8 weeks4-7 lbs (1.8-3.2 kg)4-7 lbs (1.8-3.2 kg)8-10 inches (20-25 cm)8-10 inches (20-25 cm)
3 months8-12 lbs (3.6-5.4 kg)8-12 lbs (3.6-5.4 kg)10-12 inches (25-30 cm)10-12 inches (25-30 cm)
6 months16-22 lbs (7.3-10 kg)16-22 lbs (7.3-10 kg)12-15 inches (30-38 cm)12-15 inches (30-38 cm)
1 year22-24 lbs (10-11 kg)20-22 lbs (9-10 kg)16-17 inches (40-43 cm)15-16 inches (38-41 cm)
Adult22-24 lbs (10-11 kg)20-22 lbs (9-10 kg)16-17 inches (40-43 cm)15-16 inches (38-41 cm)

Basenji Colors

Baenji Dog Coat and Colors

Basenji’s coat showcases a kaleidoscope of colors, each with its own charm:

  • Chestnut Red 
  • Black and White
  • Brindle
  • Tri-Color

Basenji Characteristics and Temperament

Now, let’s take a closer look at the Basenji personality traits because its personality is as intriguing as its history.

  • These intelligent and independent dogs are known for their intelligence, independence, and playful nature. 
  • They are a highly energetic breed that requires regular exercise and mental stimulation. 
  • Basenjis are naturally alert and watchful, making them excellent watchdogs, alerting their families to any unusual activity.
  • Despite their regal demeanor, Basenjis are friendly and enjoy engaging games like fetch or puzzle toys. 
  • Basenjis are also known for their curiosity, and can sometimes be quite mischievous and stubborn.
  • Despite their independent nature, Basenji dog breeds are loyal and affectionate towards their families.
  • Basenji behavior is good around kids, elders, and other pets. 

Here is the characteristic table of the Basenji dogs: 

Basenji characteristics Table
Affection LevelMedium
Kid-FriendlyMedium (Supervision recommended) due to independent nature)
Energy LevelHigh
Tendency to VocalizeLow (Barkless, but can make other vocalizations)
TrainabilityMedium (Can be stubborn)
SheddingLow (Minimal shedding)

Basenji Diet and Nutrition

Curious Basenji Dog.

Providing your Basenji with a high-quality diet formulated for active breeds is crucial for their health and well-being. Here are some key considerations:

  • Portion Control: Basenjis can be prone to weight gain, so monitoring their food intake is essential. Consult your veterinarian to determine the appropriate amount based on age, activity level, and body condition.
  • Protein Focus: As active dogs, Basenjis require a protein-rich diet to support their muscle development and energy needs. Look for kibble or canned food with quality protein sources like chicken, fish, or lamb.
  • Limited Carbohydrates: Basenjis can be sensitive to high-carbohydrate diets. Opt for foods with moderately complex carbohydrates, like whole grains or brown rice to provide sustained energy.

How much to feed a Basenji puppy? 

Here is the Basenji puppy feeding guide:

Age (Weeks)Number of Meals per DayDaily Food Amount (Cups)
8-1241 – 1.5
12-1631.5 – 2
16-2032 – 2.5
Over 2022 – 3 (adjust based on weight and activity level)


This table provides a general guideline, and the actual amount of food your Basenji puppy needs may vary depending on several factors, including:

  • Individual growth rate and activity level
  • Quality and calorie content of the food
  • Body condition (consult your vet to ensure your puppy maintains a healthy weight)

Basenji Exercise and Training

So, how much exercise does a Basenji need? 

Basenjis are a high-energy breed that requires regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They require daily exercise to burn off excess energy and prevent destructive behaviors. 

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Daily Walks and Playtime: Aim for at least one hour of exercise daily, including walks, playtime in a secure yard, or engaging activities like agility training.
  • Mental Stimulation: Basenjis are intelligent and can become bored quickly. Providing them with mental stimulation through puzzle toys, interactive games, or scent training will help keep them engaged and happy.

How to train a Basenji?

  • Positive reinforcement training methods using treats, praise, and clicker training are most effective. Be patient and consistent, and make training sessions fun and rewarding.
  • Their agility and curiosity can lead them to explore beyond boundaries. Ensure your yard has secure fencing, and keep them on a leash during walks until they have a reliable recall.

Basenji Grooming Needs

Basenji Dog Grooming

The Basenji’s short, smooth coat is a blessing for busy pet owners. Here’s how to keep your Basenji looking their best:

  • Regular brushing with a hound mitt or soft brush once or twice a week will remove loose hair and keep their coat shiny.
  • Basenjis are naturally clean dogs, thus only infrequent baths are needed. Always use a gentle dog shampoo specifically formulated for their sensitive skin.
  • Clean your dog’s ears gently with a damp cloth using a veterinarian-approved ear cleaner.
  • Regular nail trims are essential to prevent discomfort and potential injuries.

Basenji Common Health Problems

How long does Basenji live?

Basenjis are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of 12-16 years. However, some potential health concerns to be aware of include:

  • Patellar Luxation
  • Fanconi Syndrome
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Portosystemic Shunt
  • Dental Disease

For a healthy Basenji dog, it’s vital to provide a balanced diet, regular exercise, and routine vet check-ups.

Are Basenjis Hypoallergenic?

No, Basenji dogs are not hypoallergenic. While no dog breed is truly hypoallergenic, Basenjis are considered a good choice for allergy sufferers. Their minimal shedding and lack of a doggy odor make them less likely to trigger allergies.

Basenji Price

Basenji Dog Standing

How much does a Basenji cost? 

  • The cost of a Basenji puppy can vary depending on location, breeder reputation, and pedigree. 
  • On average, you can expect to pay between $800 and $2000 for a Basenji puppy, but it can be as high as $4,500. 
  • Also, it’s crucial to research and find a reputable breeder to ensure you are getting a healthy and well-socialized puppy.
  • If you’re looking for one at an affordable price, you can search on Google “Basenji dog for sale” or “Basenji puppies for sale” to get the results of the best local shelters and rescue clubs near your location. 


Does Basenji bark?

While they don’t bark traditionally, Basenjis can communicate through various sounds like yodeling, howling, and chattering.

Are Basenjis good with children?

Yes, the Basenji dog breed is good with children, but early socialization and supervision are essential. 

Can Basenji dogs live in apartments?

Basenjis can adapt to apartment living as long as they receive enough daily exercise. Providing them with indoor games and activities will help keep them stimulated.

Are Basenjis easy to train?

Basenji dogs require patience and positive reinforcement training methods. Their independent streak can make them less eager to please than other breeds.

How much do Basenjis shed?

Basenji canines are minimal shedders, making them a good choice for allergy sufferers. However, regular brushing is necessary to help remove loose hair and keep their coat healthy.

Final Thoughts

The Basenji is a captivating breed with a unique personality and fascinating history. The Basenji dog might be the perfect fit if you’re looking for an active, playful, and relatively low-maintenance companion. However, their independent nature and potential for escape artistry require owners to be committed to training and providing ample mental and physical stimulation. 

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