Basenji Dog Breed

Basenjis are small, elegant-looking, short-haired dogs with erect ears, and tightly curled tail. Some people equate their appearance to that of a miniature deer. Their forehead is wrinkled, especially when young. Eyes are typically almond shaped, which gives the appearance of squinting with a serious look. It is not uncommon for a Basenji to stare down a person, which gives some people an unsettling feeling. Best known as a non-barking dog, they do make sounds, such as yodeling and wailing when they are excited.

Basenjis are sight hounds which mean they hunt by sight. Their hunting instincts make them run after anything that moves, especially cars. They should not be allowed to run loose outside a securely fenced area.

Basenjis are similar to cats in that they keep themselves exceptionally clean. The females come into season once a year in the fall while most females of other breeds come in twice per year. They're little dickens. Not appropriate for inexperienced owners. Ownership requires time, effort and understanding. Usually aloof with strangers.

Basenji Breed Outline

Other Names: Non-barking dog; barkless Congo dog

Country of Origin: Central Africa

Utilization: Hunting dog, companion

FCI Classification: Group 5: Spitz and primitive types. Section 6 Primitive type.; AKC Classification: Hound Group


Size: Medium (16-17 inches at shoulders)

Colors: Pure black and white; red and white; black and tan, and white with melon pips and tan markings on muzzle and cheeks; black; tan and white; brindle : red background with black stripes, the more clearly defined the stripes the better. The white should be on the feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, blaze and white collar optional.

Litter Size: 6

Life Span: 10-13 years

Grooming Requirements: Very little brushing. This is a self-cleaning dog.

Shedding: Little

Personality: Barkless but not mute, its own special noise a mixture of a chortle and a yodel. Remarkable for its cleanliness in every way. An intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. Can be aloof with strangers.

Social skills: Early socialization necessary to offset its instinct to fight with other dogs and become an obedient family pet.

Suitability for Children: Usually patient and friendly with children if socialized early.

Exercise Needs: Vigorous daily walks. Basenjis have the stamina of a hunter.

Train Ability: Puppies should be home raised with lots of human contact. Obedience training is a must.

Health & Behavioral Issues:

  1. Hip dysplasia - OFA certification of hips is required after 2 years of age. Preliminary x-rays may be done at an earlier age.
  2. Progressive retinal atrophy - CERF certification is required.
  3. Pyruvate kinase - a disorder that leads to hemolytic anemia. The initial sign of the disease commonly presents as exercise intolerance.1
  4. Protein losing nephropathy - Clinical signs are diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, swelling and apathy.2


  1. Erythrocyte Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency mutation identified in multiple breeds of domestic cats. Robert A GrahnEmail author, Jennifer C Grahn, Maria CT Penedo, Chris R Helps and Leslie A Lyons. BMC Veterinary Research20128:207
  2. Variant detection and runs of homozygosity in next generation sequencing data elucidate the genetic background of Lundehund syndrome. Julia MetzgerEmail author, Sophia Pfahler and Ottmar Distl. BMC Genomics 201617:535

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