Basenji: A Hunting Dog from Africa

A hunting dog from Africa, the Basenji was used for driving big game, locating its prey by both sight and scent. An affectionate popular house dog now


A hunting dog from Africa, the Basenji was used for driving big game, locating its prey by both sight and scent. Sleek and beautifully built with an immaculate appearance, the Basenji is affectionate and fun-loving, and is a popular house dog. Unable to bark, it can, however, make yodelling noises.

Table of Contents


Central Africa


Primitive Dogs

Many modern dog breeds are the result of hundreds of years of breeding for particular characteristics, but a few, commonly regarded as primitive dogs, have remained close to the original “blueprint” of their wolf ancestors. As a group, primitive dogs are not clearly defined, and not all authorities agree that such a category should be recognized.

Breed History

This breed originated in Central Africa, but gained popularity in Egypt—they were given as prized gifts in the times of the Pharaohs.

They were exported to the US and Great Britain around 1937, and in 1943 they were first registered in the AKC. Basenjis are well known for the absence of a true bark. They can make noise, but their varied vocalizations are described as yodels, brrs, or roos.

The name Basenji probably originates from the African word for “Bush Thing”. The BCOA and other clubs worldwide are involved with the African Stock Project to bring new Basenjis from Africa to expand the gene pool.

Physical Characteristics

Height at Withers

Female 16” (40.5 cm), male 17” (43 cm).


Females 22 lb (10 kg), males 24 (11 kg).


The short, glossy, smooth dense haircoat comes in black, tri-color, brindle, chestnut red—all with white feet, chest and tip of the tail. Distinct borders between colors are desired, and white should never predominate though it can be present elsewhere.

They are low shedding dogs, with absent doggie odor and need minimal grooming.


10-12 years.

Points of Conformation

The tail is carried over the straight topline in a curled position, head carriage is high, and the medium-sized ears are carried pricked up, with a furrowed brow. Eyes are hazel to brown. They have short backs, a definite waist and are well muscled with strong bone. They have a horse-like smooth running trot.

Breed Behavior and Traits