Temperament: Independent, Smart, Poised

  1. Height: 17 inches (male), 16 inches (female)
  2. Weight: 24 pounds (male), 22 pounds (female)
  3. Life Expectancy: 13-14 years
  4. Group: Hound Group 
 The Basenji, Africa’s “Bark-less Dog,” is a compact, sweet-faced hunter of intelligence and poise. They are unique and beguiling pets, best for owners who can meet their exercise needs and the challenge of training this catlike canine. 


The Basenji is a small, short haired hunting dog from Africa. It is short backed and lightly built, appearing high on the leg compared to its length. The wrinkled head is proudly carried on a well arched neck and the tail is set high and curled. Elegant and graceful, the whole demeanour is one of poise and inquiring alertness. The balanced structure and the smooth musculature enable it to move with ease and agility. The Basenji hunts by both sight and scent. Characteristics-The Basenji should not bark but is not mute. The wrinkled forehead, tightly curled tail and swift, effortless gait (resembling a racehorse trotting full out) are typical of the breed. Faults-Any departure from the following points must be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault is regarded is to be in exact proportion to its degree.

About the Basenji

Basenjis are small, graceful hounds standing 16 or 17 inches at the shoulder. They are recognisable by their glistening short coat, tightly curled tail, and wrinkled forehead and expressive almond-shaped eyes that convey a variety of subtle, human-like emotions.
Basenjis are a lovely sight at a standstill but more impressive yet at a fast trot, when they exhibit the long, smooth strides of a mini-racehorse. And yes, it’s true, they don’t bark, but they make their feelings known with an odd sound described as something between a chortle and a yodel. Basenjis are fastidious and will groom themselves like cats. This has been called a “cult breed”—small in numbers, but those lucky enough to own one do so with singular devotion.

NUTRITION The Basenji should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Some dogs are prone to getting overweight, so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.

GROOMING Basenjis are fastidious creatures. Their short coat is a breeze to take care of, generally requiring no more than a quick once-over with a soft-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove every week. Brushing distributes skin oils throughout the coat to help keep it healthy and looking its best. Basenjis don’t have a “doggy” smell, and they usually don’t need to be bathed unless they get into something particularly messy. As with all breeds, the Basenji‘s nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.

EXERCISE Basenjis are energetic, inquisitive, and very active. They require lots of regular exercise to keep them from becoming bored. Boredom can lead to destructive behaviour. Long play sessions in a well-fenced yard or securely on lead are required. A Basenji should never run loose, as the breed’s instinct to hunt is very strong, and the dog might not be able to resist the urge to run off on a chase. Giving the dog a structured outlet for those instincts and that pent-up energy can help immensely; many Basenjis enjoy, and excel at, canine sports such as lure coursing, tracking, and obedience and agility competitions.

TRAINING Early socialisation and puppy training classes are recommended for all breeds, but given the Basenji’s bountiful energy, intelligence, and penchant for mischief, they are a necessity. Basenjis are often described as “catlike,” which may not seem to bode well for training them. However, they do learn readily in an encouraging and rewarding atmosphere, and with the use of positive-training techniques. They also lose interest quickly, so training sessions should last no more than five or 10 minutes.

HEALTH Basenji are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen for health disorders such as hypothyroidism, a type of inflammatory bowel disease called IPSID and canine hip dysplasia. Gene tests are available to identify carriers of Fanconi syndrome, a kidney disorder, as well as progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA; such tests allow breeders to plan breeding’s that will not produce those diseases. As with all breeds, a Basenji’s ears should be checked regularly, and the teeth should be brushed often.

Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  3. PRA-BJ1 DNA Test
  4. Fancily Syndrome DNA Test
  5. Thyroid Evaluation

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