Basenji looking forward

Quick Facts


24 pounds (male)

22 pounds (female)


17 inches (male)

16 inches (female)

Average Lifespan:

13-14 years

Known For:

Small sized, but graceful hounds, known as “barkless dogs”.


The Basenji, often known as the “barkless dog,” holds a special place in the hearts of dog enthusiasts around the world. This unique breed, which originated from Central Africa, has a rich history and a personality that is as vibrant as its origin.Β 


Known for their elegant and fine coat, expressive eyes, and tightly curled tail, Basenjis have a distinctive appearance that is hard to overlook. Their inability to bark, replaced by a unique sound known as a “barroo,” due to the shape of their larynx, adds to their unique charm. This breed has not only won over pet lovers with its appearance but also with its intelligence, agility, and affectionate nature.Β 


The Basenji is a small to medium breed, often weighing around 22 to 24 pounds, and standing about 17 inches tall. Their popularity has been on a steady rise, making them a notable choice for families, singles, and seniors alike.

History and Origin

The Basenji is a breed with roots deeply embedded in the rich soils of Central Africa. Historical evidence, including depictions in ancient Egyptian art, suggests that Basenjis have been around for thousands of years, serving as companions to humans in the early civilizations of Africa.


The journey of the Basenji to the western world is a tale of fascination and desire for this unique breed. Attempts to bring the breed to England began in the late 19th century, but it was not until the 1930s that successful breeding programs began, thanks to efforts by animal importers who brought these dogs from the remote areas of the Congo.


The Basenji Club of America was formed in 1942, marking a significant milestone in establishing the breed in the United States. The breed was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1943, a testament to its growing popularity and acceptance in the dog-loving community.


Over the years, the Basenji has graced the silver screen and literature, with the most famous Basenji perhaps being “My Lady’s” from the book “Goodbye My Lady,” which was later adapted into a film in 1956, showcasing the breed to a broader audience and winning many hearts.

Breed Characteristics


Barking Tendency

Dog Friendly

Health Issues

Shedding Level









Cat Friendly

Exercise Needs


Social Needs








App. Friendly

Child Friendly


Energy Level

Stranger Friendly

Watchdog Instincts







Appearance and Size

The Basenji is a sight to behold, with a fine and glossy coat that comes in a variety of colors including red, black, brindle, and tricolor, all typically adorned with white markings. Their skin is tight over a finely structured body, giving them a graceful and elegant appearance.

Standing at about 16 to 17 inches at the shoulder and weighing between 22 to 24 pounds, the Basenji is a small to medium-sized breed. Their forehead is wrinkled, which, coupled with their almond-shaped eyes, gives them an intelligent and curious expression.


One of the standout features of the Basenji is their tightly curled tail, carried over the back or to one side, adding to their distinctive silhouette. Their ears stand erect, always alert and ready to catch any sound.


Despite their delicate appearance, Basenjis are robust and athletic, built for speed and agility with a graceful yet powerful stride that is almost cat-like.Β 


Their fine coat is low-maintenance, not prone to smelling, and they have a tendency to groom themselves meticulously, much like cats.

Their unique features and elegant demeanor make the Basenji a truly distinctive breed, a beautiful companion that is sure to turn heads wherever they go.

Personality and Temperament

The Basenji is a bundle of contradictions – independent yet affectionate, reserved with strangers but playful with loved ones. This breed is known for its intelligence and curiosity. They’re often described as cat-like, not just because of their grooming habits, but also due to their selective affection and independent nature.


Basenjis are alert and reserved, making them excellent watchdogs. However, they’re not typically aggressive. They have a playful side and can be quite mischievous, often finding ways to outsmart their owners. This breed thrives on human companionship and does not like being left alone for extended periods. They can form strong bonds with their families, often becoming particularly attached to one member.


Despite their “barkless” nature, Basenjis are not silent. They communicate through unique vocalizations, the most famous being the “barroo,” a melodious yodel-like sound.

Health and Lifespan

Basenjis are generally healthy dogs with a lifespan of 12 to 16 years. Their short, fine coat and cat-like grooming habits mean they have fewer skin issues and less doggy odor than some other breeds. However, like all breeds, they can be prone to certain health conditions.


Some potential health concerns for Basenjis include:

  • Fanconi Syndrome: A kidney disorder where the kidneys fail to reabsorb nutrients and electrolytes. Regular testing can help detect this condition early.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): An eye condition that can lead to blindness. Breeding dogs should be tested to ensure they’re not carriers of PRA.
  • Hip Dysplasia: A malformation of the hip joint that can lead to arthritis.

Regular check-ups and a balanced diet can help ensure that a Basenji lives a long, healthy life. It’s essential to work with a vet who understands the breed and its specific needs.

Care and Maintenance

Basenji grooming

Caring for a Basenji can be a joy, especially given their low-maintenance coat. They shed minimally and, thanks to their unique grooming habits, rarely have the typical dog smell. A weekly brush and occasional bath are usually enough to keep them looking their best.


Exercise is crucial for this energetic breed. They love to play and require regular physical activity to keep them happy and healthy. A daily walk, coupled with some playtime, is ideal. Due to their hunting instincts, it’s essential to have a secure yard or leash them during walks, as they might chase after small animals.


Diet-wise, a balanced meal with high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared (with a vet’s supervision), is recommended. It’s essential to monitor their weight to prevent obesity, which can lead to other health issues.

Basenjis are known to be a bit stubborn, so early socialization and puppy training classes are recommended. They respond well to positive reinforcement techniques.

Training and Behavior

Basenjis are intelligent and quick learners, but they also have an independent streak that can sometimes be mistaken for stubbornness. Training a Basenji requires patience, consistency, and positive reinforcement. They’re not particularly motivated by praise, so treats and toys often work best as rewards.


Early socialization is crucial for Basenjis. Exposure to various people, sights, sounds, and experiences when they’re young helps ensure that they grow up to be well-rounded dogs. Puppy training classes can be beneficial, not just for training but also for the socialization aspect.


Behaviorally, Basenjis have a strong prey drive. This means they might chase after smaller animals, including cats, if not properly introduced or trained. They’re also known to be climbers, so a secure yard with a high fence is essential.

Basenji and Families

Basenji with people

Basenjis can make wonderful family pets. They’re affectionate and can form strong bonds with family members, including children. However, due to their energetic nature, it’s essential to supervise interactions between Basenjis and young kids to ensure that playtime doesn’t get too rough.


They can get along well with other dogs, especially if they’ve been raised together. As for other pets, their strong prey drive means introductions should be done carefully, especially with smaller animals.


One of the joys of having a Basenji in the family is their playful and sometimes mischievous nature. They can bring laughter and joy to a household with their antics and unique personality.

Adopting a Basenji

If you’re considering bringing a Basenji into your home, adoption is a wonderful option. Many Basenjis are looking for their forever homes, and rescues or shelters can be a great place to start your search.


Before adopting, it’s essential to consider if a Basenji is the right fit for your lifestyle. They require regular exercise, training, and attention. It’s also crucial to ensure that your living situation is suitable for a Basenji, considering their climbing tendencies and need for a secure yard.


When adopting, spend time with the dog to ensure a good match. Ask questions about their history, behavior, and any known health issues. Remember, adopting a dog is a long-term commitment, and ensuring a good fit from the start can lead to many happy years together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is unique about a Basenji's bark?

Basenjis are known as the “barkless dog” because they don’t bark like other dogs. Instead, they make a unique sound known as a “baroo,” due to the shape of their larynx. This doesn’t mean they’re silent; they can make other noises such as yodels, whines, and screams.

Are Basenjis good with children?

Basenjis can be good with children if they are socialized properly from a young age. However, their high energy levels and prey drive might not make them suitable for very young or overly active children.

Do Basenjis shed a lot?

Basenjis are considered low-shedding dogs, making them a good choice for people with mild allergies. They have short hair that requires minimal grooming.

Can Basenjis be left alone?

Basenjis are independent but can develop separation anxiety if left alone for too long. They’re best in an environment where they can have companionship for most of the day.

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