BASENJI: The Barkless Dog of Africa

Discover the Basenji, a unique and elegant dog breed known for its intelligence, agility, and barkless nature. Explore the history, characteristics, and charm of the Basenji – your ideal companion for an active and loving lifestyle.

The origins of the Basenji, which comes from South Africa, go back into antiquity. It is also known as the “Congo Dog”. It was used in Africa for hunting and as a watchdog. It reached in United States in 1941. With its calm, affectionate temperament, it is today best known as a pet dog. An unusual feature of this breed is that it does not bark like other dogs but makes a soft, yodeling call.

Uncover the allure of the Basenji, a captivating dog breed that combines elegance with intelligence. Renowned for its distinctive barkless nature, the Basenji is a spirited companion, excelling in agility and loyalty. Delve into the rich history, unique characteristics, and playful charm of the Basenji breed.

Whether you’re a seasoned dog enthusiast or a first-time pet owner, our comprehensive guide offers insights into grooming, training, and the delightful quirks that make the Basenji a cherished addition to any family. Embrace the joy of living with a Basenji – a canine companion that effortlessly blends grace, intelligence, and boundless affection.


The Basenji, often referred to as the “Barkless Dog,” boasts a fascinating history rooted in ancient African civilizations. Originating in the central African regions of Congo, Sudan, and South Sudan, this breed has a lineage that dates back thousands of years. Revered by the Azande people of Congo for its exceptional hunting prowess, the Basenji was prized for its agility, speed, and unique ability to silently track prey. Its keen senses and intelligence made it an invaluable companion during tribal hunts.

Historical depictions of dogs resembling the Basenji can be found in ancient Egyptian tombs, suggesting a connection to the breed’s development over the centuries. Traders and explorers introduced the Basenji to other parts of the world, capturing the attention of dog enthusiasts and breeders alike. In the early 20th century, the breed gained prominence in the Western world, with the first Basenji arriving in England in the 1930s.

One of the most notable features of the Basenji is its distinctive barklessness. This unique trait can be attributed to the shape of its larynx, preventing the breed from producing the typical barking sounds found in other dogs. Instead, the Basenji communicates through a charming yodel-like vocalization.

As a testament to its rich heritage, the Basenji embodies a harmonious blend of ancient charm and modern companionship. Today, this breed continues to captivate dog enthusiasts with its elegant appearance, intelligence, and loyal nature, serving as a living link to its storied African roots.


The Basenji is a smart and independent hound, but it’s also affectionate and alert. Being a sighthound, it’s fascinated by movement and might chase after cats, squirrels, and rabbits. It’s not the type of dog that obeys commands immediately; it takes time to consider whether it wants to do what you’re asking. Patience and a sense of humor are crucial when living with a Basenji.

They have a knack for getting into things within their reach, whether it’s chewing or eating, and they’re skilled at devising plans to get what they want, such as reaching kitchen counters or finding the dog treats in the pantry. Basenjis can be reserved with strangers, and it’s important to be cautious around cats or small animals unless they’ve grown up with them and recognize them as part of the family. However, this recognition doesn’t extend to outdoor cats or small animals; they’re fair game.

Physical Characteristics

As it is a hunting and watch dog. Therefore, it has main characteristics like:


  • Male 17-18 inches
  • Female 15-17 inches              


  • Male 24-26 pounds
  • Female 22-25 pounds


This dog has two coat types and they are:

  • Short
  • Silky


  • Reddish
  • Brown
  • Tan colored with white patches


They have almond-shaped eyes that convey intelligence and curiosity, typically dark brown in color.


Small, pointed ears that stands erect, contributing to their alert and attentive expression.


They have tightly curled tails that rest over their back, adding to their distinctive and elegant appearance.


The Basenji dog is a unique and ancient breed known for its elegant and independent nature. Originating in Central Africa, particularly the Congo, they are often referred to as the “African Barkless Dog” due to their unusual characteristic of not barking in the traditional sense. Instead, they produce a distinctive yodel-like sound called a “barroo,” which is a combination of yodeling and howling. This trait makes them particularly appealing to those seeking a quieter breed.

Basenjis are intelligent, alert, and highly independent dogs. They are known for their strong prey drive, stemming from their hunting background in Africa. As a result, they may not be the best fit for households with small pets like cats or rodents, as they tend to chase smaller animals. Despite their independent streak, Basenjis are affectionate with their families and can be quite playful.

They require regular exercise to expend their energy and enjoy activities such as running, hiking, and agility. Proper training and socialization from a young age are essential to ensure they grow into well-behaved companions. Overall, the Basenji is a unique and intriguing breed for those who appreciate their distinctive qualities and can provide them with the mental and physical stimulation they need.


The Basenji dog sports a short, fine coat in striking colors like rich chestnut red, black, tricolor (black and chestnut), or brindle (black stripes on a chestnut background). These coat colors come with white markings on the feet, chest, tail tip, and possibly legs, a blaze on the face between the eyes, or a white collar around the neck. His primary color always predominates, and his markings are distinct and not muddled.

The Basenji, resembling a cat in grooming habits, keeps himself immaculate. Baths should be needed only every few months, and while they do shed (like all dogs), the short and fine nature of their hair makes it less noticeable than in some other breeds.

To maintain oral health, brush your Basenji’s teeth at least two or three times a week to prevent tartar buildup and bacterial growth. Daily brushing is even better for gum disease prevention and fresh breath.

Regular nail trims are essential; if you hear the nails clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short nails keep your legs scratch-free when your enthusiastic Basenji jumps up to greet you. Start grooming practices early, when your Basenji is a puppy.

Get him accustomed to being brushed and examined, especially handling his paws, as dogs can be sensitive about their feet. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, setting the stage for easy vet exams and handling when he’s grown.

As you groom, check for any signs of sores, rashes, or infection on the skin, ears, nose, mouth, and eyes, as well as on the feet. Ears should smell pleasant without excessive wax, and eyes should be clear, with no redness or discharge. A thorough weekly examination will help you detect potential health issues early.


The Basenji is a hunting dog that requires daily exercise. Some Basenjis are content with a daily walk, while others need more vigorous activities. When raised with children, they often play together, tiring each other out.

However, the Basenji can’t be left unsupervised in the backyard due to its escape artist skills; an unattended Basenji can easily go missing.

With a couple of 30-minute walks or play sessions every day, the Basenji can adapt well to apartment or condo living. Always use a leash unless you’re in a securely fenced area, as Basenjis can overcome typical fences. They’ll even use chain link fences as ladders, and a wooden fence may not be sufficient unless you place the smooth side facing the yard and add an electric wire on top.

Similar to cats, Basenjis tend to dislike rain. They might be grumpy if you take them for a walk in wet weather. However, they may enjoy getting wet on exceptionally hot days.


Comprehensive exercise is crucial for the well-being of Basenjis, as these energetic and agile dogs thrive on physical activity. Daily walks, brisk runs, and engaging play sessions are essential to channel their high energy levels and maintain their overall health.

Basenjis excel in agility activities, and incorporating mental stimulation, such as puzzle toys and obedience training, is equally important to keep their sharp minds engaged. Due to their hunting instincts, supervised off-leash play in secure areas can provide an outlet for their natural behaviors.

It’s vital to tailor the exercise routine to the individual Basenji’s age, health, and preferences, ensuring a balanced approach that caters to both their physical and mental needs. Regular exercise not only keeps them physically fit but also contributes to a well-behaved and content Basenji companion.


Comprehensive nutrition is fundamental for the well-being of Basenjis, a breed known for its energy and vitality. A balanced diet should include high-quality dog food with a focus on lean proteins to support their muscular structure.

Essential fatty acids, such as Omega-3 and Omega-6, contribute to a healthy coat and skin. Given their energetic nature, Basenjis benefit from complex carbohydrates for sustained energy throughout the day. Monitoring portion sizes is crucial to prevent weight issues, as Basenjis have a tendency to gain weight.

 Fresh water should always be readily available. Additionally, incorporating fruits and vegetables as treats or supplements can provide vitamins and minerals. Regular consultations with a veterinarian help tailor the diet to the individual Basenji’s needs, considering factors like age, activity level, and any specific health concerns.

A well-rounded and carefully monitored nutrition plan plays a pivotal role in ensuring the longevity, vitality, and overall health of Basenjis.

Top of Form

Health Issues

It’s crucial for owners and breeders to be aware of potential issues. One notable characteristic of Basenjis is their sensitivity to certain medications, particularly anesthesia, due to a lower tolerance for barbiturates.

Some health conditions to be aware of include:

Fanconi Syndrome

This hereditary disorder affects the kidneys’ ability to reabsorb electrolytes. Regular screening and monitoring of blood and urine are essential for early detection.

Hip Dysplasia

A common orthopedic issue, hip dysplasia can impact the hip joints’ development and function. Regular veterinary check-ups and responsible breeding practices can help mitigate this concern.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

An inherited eye disorder causing gradual vision loss, PRA can be detected through veterinary eye exams. Responsible breeding practices include screening for PRA to reduce the risk of passing it on to offspring.


Basenjis may experience an underactive thyroid, leading to various health issues. Regular thyroid function testing can aid in early detection and management.

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (PKD)

This hereditary condition affects red blood cells, potentially leading to anemia. Responsible breeding practices involve screening for PKD to minimize its occurrence.

Intestinal Malabsorption

Some Basenjis may be prone to malabsorption issues, affecting nutrient absorption in the intestines. Dietary adjustments and veterinary guidance can help manage this condition.

Immunodeficiency Disorders

Basenjis may be predisposed to certain immune system disorders. Regular veterinary check-ups and vaccinations are crucial for maintaining their overall health.

Bottom Line

Basenjis are a distinctive and ancient breed with a fascinating history, unique vocalizations, and an independent yet intelligent personality. They are well-suited for active individuals or families who can provide them with the exercise and mental stimulation they need.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q. Why is Basenjis known as “Barkless Dogs”?

Basenjis are called “Barkless Dogs” due to their unique larynx structure, which limits their ability to bark in the typical manner. Instead, they produce a yodel-like sound known as a “barroo.”

Q. Are Basenjis good with children?

Basenjis can get along well with children, but early socialization is key. Supervision is recommended, especially with younger children, due to the breed’s independent nature.

Q. Are Basenjis suitable for apartment living?

While Basenjis are a medium-sized breed, their high energy levels make regular exercise important. Apartments can be suitable if the dog receives sufficient daily exercise and mental stimulation.

Q. What is the typical temperament of Basenjis?

Basenjis are known for their intelligence, independence, and affectionate nature. They are often described as cat-like in their grooming habits and are known for being clean and reserved.

Q. Do Basenjis get along well with other pets?

Basenjis can coexist with other pets, but early socialization is essential. They may have a strong prey drive, so introducing them to other animals at a young age is recommended.

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