“AFRICAN BARKLESS DOG” is the most common name for the Basenji breed.


The breed was first known in the modern world as the Congo Terrier, the other names are African bush dog, Bongo, Nyam – Nyam, Zande dogs.
Out of Africa, the Basenji dog breed was originally found in Congo. He uses both scent and sight to hunt and was originally used to flush small game into hunter’s nets and to control the village rodent populations. Clever and endearing, he’s a good companion for the person or family who can stay a step ahead of him.







The Basenji is probably one of the oldest breeds of domesticated dog. Paleontologists tell us that the first domesticated dogs looked a lot like Basenjis. They were already well established when they were brought up the Nile from interior Africa as gifts for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Basenjis are depicted in ancient Egyptian artifacts, and traces of the breed can also be seen in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art.



These once-mighty civilizations collapsed millennia ago, but the Basenji endured as a semi-wild dog living at the headwaters of both the Nile and Congo rivers. African tribesmen prized Basenjis as versatile hunters with keen eyesight, explosive speed, and a highly developed sense of smell. Basenjis are known expert vertical leapers, a skill developed to scout prey in African grasslands. (An African breed name translates as “the jumping-up-and-down dog.”) Early people may have preferred a quiet dog on hunts. Like his wild cousin the wolf, the Basenji can bark but usually barks only once and then is silent. It’s also theorized that he is only partially domesticated. His metabolism is unlike that of any other domesticated dog. Their metabolism also works closer to that of wild dogs than of domesticated dogs.


Early African explorers remarked on a ‘barkless dog’ and finally a pair of Basenjis was brought to England in 1895. Unfortunately, the pair succumbed to distemper, as this disease was then unknown in Africa. However, the pair, exhibited as “Lagos Bush Dogs,” were exhibited at Crufts before expiring. In 1923, Hellen Nutting brought 6 more Basenjis to England, all of whom died of Distemper. It wasn’t until 1936 that ‘Bongo of Blean’ and ‘Bokoto of Blean,’ being known as “Congo Terriers,” lived long enough to breed a litter. In 1937, the breed was taken to America, again many exports dying of distemper until 1942, when enough survived that a breed club could be formed and the Basenji was later recognized by the AKC in 1943.




Well known as the “barkless” dog from Africa, the Basenji attracts admirer medium size with short coat, small, muscular body, alert demeanor, erect ears, and tail curled tightly over one hip. A Basenji’s eyes are typically almond-shaped. A wrinkled head makes him look worried and sometimes mischievous expression.

Country of origin: Republic of Congo


Height:  Females grow 40-42 cm

Males grow 43-45 cm


Weight:  Females- around 9-10 kg

Males – around 11-12kg


Usually tolerated deviation from centimeter or two, and everything else is considered very high or low.


Coat:       Short, pliant and fine.


Color:      Red, black, tricolor and brindle


Temperament: An intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed



“The correct Basenji is a finely pointed, aristocratic animal “



Basenji is a classy dog and he knows this from the time he is a small puppy. They carry themselves with poise and grace. Their total demeanor exudes intelligence and self-confidence. Just watching this beautiful dog stroll around the yard is like seeing art in motion.


While some dogs may lumber around the yard, this nimble creature knows how to put on a display that could put any fancy poodle to shame. Basenjis come in a variety of colors including tri-colors, black and white, black, brindle, red and tan. There is just something special about their stance as well as the elegance of their gate as they trot around the yard. You could only understand this by watching them in action.



This little African dog has come from its jungle homeland and not only invaded our civilization, but our hearts too. After few days they are no longer dogs around the house, but a fascinating lovely part of the home. In fact, they are dogs, cats, children and the essence of the wild all in the form of a little red creature.


Owners will testify to the Basenji’s phenomenal intelligence, his inventiveness, his curiosity, and his clownish sense of humor. An independent thinker, the Basenji is charming as well as trying. You cannot but only fall in love with this extraordinary breed.


He’s the kind of guy that will stick his nose into a project you’re working on because he has an inquiring mind. He’ll do his best to help when he sees you on your hands and knees in the garden. He may even take an interest if you’re on your laptop. Watch those paws though because if you’re not paying attention to him, basenji’s have been known to place their paws on the keyboard to get your attention.

Basenjis are known for being a very quiet breed; because they have flat larynxes, the dogs cannot bark, but they can be very noisy, making sounds that include yodels, whines, and screams. This is a great advantage especially if you live in an apartment or have sensitive neighbors. It is also convenient if you are to take your Basenji to some social place.


They are very calm and patient breed they only need to take a nap below the table or even better in your lap and wait for action.



Basenjis are natural chewers. This is an instinct that they are born with. When they are puppies they are at their very worst because they have new teeth coming in and their gums are swollen and itch. The only thing that helps to relieve the misery is to chew until the new teeth come through. They will chew on anything that they can find lying around the house. It is to your advantage to keep your pup supplied with a variety of sturdy chew bones that will hold up to some real abuse. They love to chew on shoes and for some reason, socks as well. As basenjis get older, this isn’t as big a problem. Basenji owners have learned not to leave their shoes and socks lying around the house because you never know when the urge to chew on them will strike.





Basenjis are considered to be a hypo-allergenic dog. This makes them a good choice for people with respiratory issues or allergies. They don’t shed much hair at all and the added bonus with this trait is that there will be far less cleanup involved.


They are very sensitive as a breed, responding to love and kindness, and they should never be shouted at nor treated roughly, voice is far more effective in shaming them over wrong-doing than the use of a whip.




Their extreme cleanliness, ease of house-training, and total lack of doggy smell makes them hard to beat as house pets. They are known to wash themselves like cats, and will dry each other and their owner’s clothes after a walk in the rain, whilst a human being having a bath holds endless fascination, the washing and drying being helped and hindered all the time.


Coming from Africa originally, the Basenji enjoys warmth. During very cold weather he can be outside while he is active. He will hate the rain, avoiding it like the plague, but enjoy a good romp in fresh snow. He is the ultimate in sun-worshippers, very seldom seeking a shady spot and always being found in the warmest place in the house.

He also has the cat habit of sitting in the best chairs or on a sunny windowsill watching the world go by.




Basenji is very attached to his owners, he needs physical contact most of the time.

He is very happy if he can share bed with you, watch TV with you, he even goes to the bathroom with you.


Some of the favorite positions with his owner


Basenjis really like food. This helps in training to get them do what you want. Food is best tool used to control their stubbornness and wild nature. You will be very surprised how patient and good dogs they can be when they expect food.




Male and female Basenjis are about the same size so there is little difference to choose from there. The choice seems to be based more on personal preference and availability. Both males and females make excellent companion pets. There is relatively little difference in temperament, activity or trainability between male and female Basenjis. Some females could be more committed to her owners then males – when they out without leash.


Like wild canids the female Basenji only cycles once a year compared to twice a year for other domesticated dogs. As a result, most of the fairly small number of puppies each year are born between November and January, and the likelihood is that you will have to wait a while for a puppy, especially if enquiring in the spring and summer months.


Basenjis really like to live in pair no matter if they are same or different gender. (male-male, female-female or female – male). From Stone Age time they have lived in hunting pack.





In his native habitat the Basenji is used as a hunting dog. Basenjis were bred to be quiet and independent hunters, often roaming free from their owners while on a hunt. The sometimes-aloof breed is less friendly than other dogs, but forms strong bonds with its owners. Because of their silence when hunting the dogs are very often belled around the neck or loin.

Today we use GPS tracker.

The Basenji is mischievous and energetic with a mind of his own.

You had better be smarter or at least sneakier than he is if you want to stay one step ahead of him.



You really need to keep in mind that your Basenji was originally bred to be a hunting dog.

This means that when he sees any potential prey, his first instinct is going to be to hunt. This can cause him to spring into action at a moment’s notice. Chickens are birds and if you live on a farm, you will need to train your Basenji from the time that he is a puppy that the livestock on the farm is not an acceptable type of prey. Each dog is an individual and will react to potential prey in different ways. It’s always recommended that smaller farm animals and fowl must be kept in a safe place that is inaccessible to your Basenji.



The silent hunter is not going to bark to frighten off an intruder. They do become alert and interested when friend or stranger approaches the home or if there are odd noises. People acting suspiciously will upset a Basenji. Many Basenjis will try to avoid a suspicious intruder. Some may happily greet an intruder while a few may try to protect their home. Do not count on a Basenji as a traditional guard dog.



The Basenji’s sense of sight and smell is amazing.

As they are very fast and agile they can catch and kill small animals like rabbits. With patience they can be taught to retrieve. Some puppies do this naturally; others will have no idea what is required. The greatest problem in training them for hunting is to get them to run in straight line instead of circling in their natural style.

It is marvelous to see one jump up and down in five-foot-high elephant grass, he almost seems to hover in the air at the top of his jump while he has a quick look round and scents the air: hence one of the African names, m’bwa m’kube m’bwaamwitu – the jumping up and down dog.


Like greyhounds and whippets, Basenjis use a double suspension gallop when running. When most dogs run, there’s generally at least one foot touching the ground at all times. But with galloping breeds like the basenji, there are two separate times when all four paws are off the ground. This gait helps the dog reach impressive speeds.




If you’d like to take up an activity with your dog, Basenjis are aces at the sport of lure coursing, the perfect game for these dogs who hunt by sight and love to chase. The lure is tied to a line that is run by a series of pulleys as the dogs give chase. Agility is another sport that might suit the Basenji’s love of a good time. While Basenjis don’t excel in obedience competition, they can be successful if you can come up with a creative way to make them think that training and competition is their idea.



But the best activity that we can recommended for you and your Basenji is HIKING. This type of sport is the one you can both enjoy. Basenji is a perfect companion for mountains. Basenji is like a “little goat” that climbs the hill. You can hike with him many kilometers per day without getting tired. We suggest you use GPS and some bright color harness, coat or collar on your Basenji.

That is because they love to explore and wander around on their own for a while.



Also if you are in some problematic or dangerous area you can carry him in the old African way. They really like it. I’m sure my Basenji thinks “Wooow, this is so great (cool)!!!!  I have a better view now”. This used to be a typical way of carrying Basenjis in Africa so they could better see animals in the bush or when the bush was too dense for them to get through.



Plan to give him plenty of daily exercise such as a long walk on leash or an opportunity to run in a safe, traffic-free area. Dog sports that will provide physical and mental stimulation include agility, lure coursing, obedience, rally and tracking. Without plenty of activity to keep him busy, he will think up his own (potentially destructive) fun.


It’s often said that a good Basenji is a tired Basenji.




Owners find that grooming them is easy, as the dogs do much of the work themselves. If you keep an immaculate home, you will appreciate that Basenjis shed very little.

The Basenji is cat-like in his grooming habits and keeps himself very clean. He shouldn’t need a bath more than every few weeks.


Brush your Basenji’s teeth at least two or three times a week to remove tartar buildup and the bacteria that lurk inside it. Daily brushing is even better if you want to prevent gum disease and bad breath.


Trim nails regularly once a week. If you can hear them clicking on the floor, they’re too long. Short, neatly trimmed nails keep your legs from getting scratched when your Basenji enthusiastically jumps up to greet you and keep his paws in good shape. They must look like cat paws.


Begin accustoming your Basenji to being brushed and examined when he’s a puppy. Handle his paws frequently — dogs are touchy about their feet — and look inside his mouth and ears. Make grooming a positive experience filled with praise and rewards, and you’ll lay the groundwork for easy veterinary exams and other handling when he’s an adult.

The Basenji should NOT live outdoors. He’s a companion dog and will express his unhappiness in many destructive ways if relegated to the backyard with little or no human companionship.





Their metabolism works more like the wild dogs’ than the domesticated dogs’.

Their preference is several small meals each day. That reflects a daily pattern of multiple kills of small prey items of their ancestors, the solitary territorial predator the wolf, Canis lupus.

That means, for an adult dog one good meal per day will be perfect. Especially after good run or intensive exercise. You can choose to feed your Basenji in the morning or in the evening. Very likely he will show you what suits him the best.


For puppies we recommended 4 small meals per day. After 8 months 2 time per day, and after 24 months 1 time per day.


The Basenji can generally be fed normal dog food but not with much proteins. Because too many proteins can cause bladder stones in this breed. However, Basenjis will steal any food that is left lying around, and as a result, can quickly become overweight. We recommend raw food for your Basenji. This includes raw meat and cooked vegetables.



NOTE: How much your adult dog eats depends on his size, age, build, metabolism, and activity level. Dogs are individuals, just like people, and they don’t all need the same amount of food. It almost goes without saying that a highly active dog will need more than a couch potato dog. The quality of dog food you buy also makes a difference — the better the dog food, the further it will go toward nourishing your dog and the less of it you’ll need to shake into your dog’s bowl.


With his lightly built body, often likened to that of a deer, the Basenji is ill suited to carry excess weight.


If you want your Basenji will be healthy don’t let him get fat.

Keep your Basenji’s physique sleek by measuring his food and feeding him twice a day rather than leaving food out all the time. Giving him plenty of daily exercise should do the rest. If you’re unsure whether he’s overweight, give him the hands-on test. Place your hands on his back, thumbs along the spine and the fingers spread downward. You should be able to feel but not see his ribs. If you can’t feel the ribs, he needs a little less food and a lot more exercise.




Basenjis can have good bond with children, but with their high energy level, they are likely better companions for older children. If they’re going to be around kids, it’s best if they’re raised with them from puppyhood. An adult Basenji who’s unfamiliar with children is most suited to a home with children who are mature enough to interact with him properly.




First wake up him with your voice than touch him. Some, but not all, basenjis will wake up in a defensive position if you suddenly get him out of a deep sleep. It is an instinct that has remained from the jungle, which had the aim to protect them from the potential predators who threatened them there. Because of this, they are, somehow, still cautious while sleeping.



Because they have sensitive bones inside the tail.


Always teach children how to approach and touch dogs.


Always supervise any interactions between dogs and young children to prevent any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party.





This breed is also very playful with other dogs. They love to play and chase with each other. Of course, the other dogs chase them because of their speed. Basenji is also breed which doesn’t have fear of bigger dogs, horses or other big animals. They are curious breed and only think about playing with these animals. When they are not puppy anymore, some of them can be territorial, protective and competitive. Dominant male or female could fight each other (male to male and female to female).


Because basenjis are HUNTING DOGS it’s not wise to let them mingle with other small animals like hamster, rabbit, bird’s or kitten household pets unsupervised, unless this is an animal that they have been raised with. Make sure that he knows them and tolerates them well before you leave them alone together.


Basenjis need early socialization and training. Like any dog, they can become timid if they are not properly socialized — exposed to many different people, sights, sounds, and experiences — when they’re young. Early socialization helps ensure that your Basenji puppy grows up to be a well-rounded dog. Inviting visitors over regularly, and taking your Basenji to dog parks, stores that allow dogs, and on leisurely strolls to meet neighbors will also help him polish his social skills.






Basenjis survived for thousands of years by being independent thinkers. At first, they might think they don’t need to obey humans but when you establish a really good bond with your Basenji he will want to please you. The Basenji is very adept to any kind of training, whether it be for hunting, obedience or just the ordinary house training.


“The little Basenji has these characteristics to fill the bill”


How anxious he is to please, what extreme devotion he has for those he loves! How he respects his owners as well as loves them –when they have taught him to respect their wishes! A dog needs a master, one he can love and one whose authority he can respect. By Veronica Tudor- Williams;1946.



Mr Robert Fleming, obedience trainer:

“I have tried many different breeds of dogs in my career as obedience trainer, but the dog which gives me the greatest pleasure to handle is the Basenji. Unlike most dogs, they are utterly independent little creatures and one has as it were the raw material to make or mar: and careless handling can indeed ruin an otherwise excellent worker.

I have found that the Basenji reacts most favorably in training if controlled solely by the voice, which means that corporal punishment is completely cut out, and only stern vocal correction given, and always lots and lots of encouragement.”



Treat your Basenji with respect and he will do the same for you.


Train the smart but independent Basenji with firmness, patience and consistency. Keep training sessions short and fun, and don’t be surprised if he puts his own spin on commands or outthinks you in other ways. For best results, use positive reinforcement techniques such as praise, play, especially food rewards.
Physical punishment or any type of neglect or abuse is likely to break this beautiful spirit and contribute to timidity, shyness, fear or depression. It can also cause a dog that would otherwise be friendly and loving to become mean and distrusting.