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Basenji

Basenji-2

A Quirky & Expressive Companion

Alert, fiesty, clever

Basenjis are affectionate, curious, and entertaining, medium-sized dogs. Although they are considered hounds, they have terrier-like mannerisms and can be wary of strangers, children, cats, and other animals. Basenjis are protective watchdogs even though they physically cannot bark (though they can whine, growl, and even scream). These dogs make great companions for sportsmen, hunters, experienced dog handlers, and families with older children. Basenjis can become fat and lazy if they’re not given enough strenuous daily exercise.

Understanding their unique needs will help keep them healthy and create a strong bond between the two of you. Explore this page to learn more about the breed’s history, health concerns, characteristics, and care needs. 

Breed Details

Height:16-17 in. Weight:22-24 lb Lifespan:12-14 years

Size
2

1=small 5=large

Grooming requirements
1

1 = little grooming - 5 = much grooming

Energy level
4

1 = low energy - 5 = high energy

Ease of training
3

1 = difficult - 5 = easy

Affection toward owners
2

1 = independent - 5 = very affectionate

Friendliness toward strangers
3

1 = shy - 5 = very friendly

Routine Care: A tall fence and leash walking are a must; Basenjis like to climb and also can't resist chasing cats and other small animals.

Grooming: Basenjis have low grooming needs and are known for their lack of "doggie odor." Brush coat as needed, at least weekly.

Dental: Basenjis generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!

Ear Care: Clean ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


They might be called barkless dogs, but they’re not silent. They use their voice in a distinctive yodel or barro.

Positive Traits:

  • An affectionate companion and family dog
  • Highly intelligent, playful, and energetic
  • Confident, steady, and fearless
  • Alert, curious, and busy
  • Quirky, entertaining personality
  • Loving and loyal to her owners

Negative Traits:

  • Needs a lot of activity and mental stimulation to avoid boredom vices
  • Strong prey drive—will chase and grab things that run, including cats and children
  • Not easily trained
  • Can be independent and strong-willed
  • Suspicious of strangers
  • Easily bored and may find trouble


Whether you are considering adding a new Basenji to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Basenji will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. By exploring the health concerns specific to the Basenji you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

Some health issues a Basenji could encounter:

The Basenji is an ancient hunter originating in Africa and highly valued in Egypt. Bred to hunt reed rats, they became prized companions and were given as gifts to the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. They are fastidious about staying clean and dislike wet and cold weather. The Basenji is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 10-12 years. Basenjis can suffer from common conditions like bladder stones and hypothyroidism. Early detection is the key to a long and happy life, so be sure to schedule routine checkups.

Consult with a veterinarian if your Basenji shows signs of the following:

Pain or straining to urinate, bloody urine

Cloudiness to eye lens

General reluctance to run or play

Dry, scaly, sometimes itchy hairless patches on face or paws

Chronic vomiting or diarrhea

Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors

Soft, non-painful bulge near the belly button

Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain

Greasy poops, weight loss, dry flaking coat

Dilated pupils in daylight, or increased "eye shine" at night

Bumping into objects, startles easily

Weakness, pale gums

  • Care

    Routine Care: A tall fence and leash walking are a must; Basenjis like to climb and also can't resist chasing cats and other small animals.

    Grooming: Basenjis have low grooming needs and are known for their lack of "doggie odor." Brush coat as needed, at least weekly.

    Dental: Basenjis generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!

    Ear Care: Clean ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—your veterinarian can show you how!


  • Characteristics

    They might be called barkless dogs, but they’re not silent. They use their voice in a distinctive yodel or barro.

    Positive Traits:

    • An affectionate companion and family dog
    • Highly intelligent, playful, and energetic
    • Confident, steady, and fearless
    • Alert, curious, and busy
    • Quirky, entertaining personality
    • Loving and loyal to her owners

    Negative Traits:

    • Needs a lot of activity and mental stimulation to avoid boredom vices
    • Strong prey drive—will chase and grab things that run, including cats and children
    • Not easily trained
    • Can be independent and strong-willed
    • Suspicious of strangers
    • Easily bored and may find trouble


  • Health Concerns

    Whether you are considering adding a new Basenji to your family or you already have one as a companion, it is important for you to know about the genetically linked diseases known to occur more often in this breed. Of course not every Basenji will have these problems, but research shows your pal is more at risk than other breeds. By exploring the health concerns specific to the Basenji you will become a knowledgeable and confident pet parent. Be sure to speak with your veterinarian about breed risks every time you visit and educate yourself on the most important signs to watch for at home. They are counting on you to be their health expert.

    Some health issues a Basenji could encounter:

  • History

    The Basenji is an ancient hunter originating in Africa and highly valued in Egypt. Bred to hunt reed rats, they became prized companions and were given as gifts to the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt. They are fastidious about staying clean and dislike wet and cold weather. The Basenji is a generally healthy breed with an average lifespan of 10-12 years. Basenjis can suffer from common conditions like bladder stones and hypothyroidism. Early detection is the key to a long and happy life, so be sure to schedule routine checkups.

  • Watch Out For

    Consult with a veterinarian if your Basenji shows signs of the following:

    Pain or straining to urinate, bloody urine

    Cloudiness to eye lens

    General reluctance to run or play

    Dry, scaly, sometimes itchy hairless patches on face or paws

    Chronic vomiting or diarrhea

    Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors

    Soft, non-painful bulge near the belly button

    Dull coat, hair loss, sluggish, weight gain

    Greasy poops, weight loss, dry flaking coat

    Dilated pupils in daylight, or increased "eye shine" at night

    Bumping into objects, startles easily

    Weakness, pale gums

Basenji Discussions

Share your thoughts and experiences, ask questions, or just show your love for the Basenji breed here!

Select Another Breed

To view the sources for the information listed on this page, see our Dog Breed Guide Reference page.

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