A small to medium sized Basenji
Basenji Quick Summary
Also Known AsCongo Dog
Height (at withers)15-17in (38-43cm)
Weight20-26lbs (9-12kg)
Hair Colour(s)Varies
Lifespan10-13 years
Energy LevelHigh
Litter size4-6
Barking TendencyDoesn't!
Exercise requirementsMedium
Ease of trainingHigh
Suitability for kidsLow
Animal compatabilityMedium
Aggression levelsLow
Distress if leftHigh

The Basenji is a small but elegant and athletic dog. It has long, strong legs that almost afford it the sprinting pace of a horse, small eyes, straight ears, and a tail that curls up and over the back. It has an eager and alert expression, but also a naturally furrowed brow that can often give the impression of being worried about something. The coat is smooth and sleek, and the colouring varies and includes brindle, copper or red, black and brindle, or black and tan, all with white markings. There is usually a distinctive white blaze on the face.


Basenjis are very intelligent and affectionate dogs, and they enjoy a playful and curious disposition. They are usually energetic, alert and eager to please, and it is important not to neglect them or they may grow bored, which can lead to destructive behavior. They can often have a dominant and independent streak, and can be manipulative too, and so are best suited to more experienced dog owners as they need assertive and firm training, although this should always be positive because Basenjis have a tendency to become defensive in some circumstances. Basenjis cannot bark but can make a variety of others sounds depending upon their mood, such as snarling, howling, whining and even yodelling, and still make effective watchdogs thanks to their wary nature. This breed loves to chase and play and is highly trainable, but they are not suitable for younger children incase they tease it. Basenjis will get along with other pets only if they have been properly socialised, and they love to chew, something that needs consideration if owners are planning to leave them alone for any periods of time.

History & Skills

Basenjis originate from Zaire in Africa, and were once known as the Congo Dog because it is thought they may have originated from a hunting dog once used by Congo pygmies. They were used as pack hunters by the native tribes, and after English hunters discovered them in the 1800s, several attempts were made to bring them back to Europe, despite their vulnerability to sickness. Success came in the 1930s, afterwhich they travelled further to America, where they gathered recognition as show dogs and companions. These days Basenjis are still used as forest guides and pack hunters in Africa, and also do well in lure coursing.

Breed Specific Ailments

Basenjis tend to live between 10-13 years. There are a number of health problems associated with the Basenji, including eye defects, PKD, malabsorbtion, thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, and digestive problems. They are also known to be susceptible to kidney ailments, particularly the Fanconi syndrome, as well as eye ailments.


Basenjis are very low shedders and so are suitable for those suffering from allergies. Their grooming requirements are low too, and the sleek coat is easy to maintain. Basenjis can often take care of their own grooming, but an occasional brushing of the coat is all that is required to get rid of any dead hair, and an occasional rub down with a damp cloth will also help to keep the coat glossy and in good condition.

Exercise & Environment

Basenjis needs a consistent daily workout to keep them from gaining weight and becoming sluggish. A combination of long walks and exhilarating games to meet its mental and physical needs will go a long way. They prefer warm and dry climates thanks to their short coats, and small homes are fine as long as there is access to a yard or garden.


FCIFCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale
KCThe Kennel Club (UK)
AKCAKC - American Kennel Club

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