Breed Summary

Basenjis are small, short-haired hounds with erect ears, and almond-shaped eyes. A Basenji's forehead is wrinkled, proudly carried on a well-arched neck and the tail is set high and curled. It is short backed and lightly built, appearing high on the leg compared to its length. The balanced structure and the smooth musculature enable it to move with ease and agility. The Basenji hunts by both sight and scent.

Country of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo

AKC Breed Popularity: Ranks 87 of 196

AKC Classification: Hound group

UKC Classification: Sighthounds and Pariahs

Exercise Requirements: >40 minutes/day

Height: Female: 16 inches; Male: 17 inches

Weight: Female: 21-22 lbs; Male: 21-24 lbs

Physical traits: Small, Short-haired, Muscular body

Coat: Length: Short

Characteristics: Flat

Colors: Chestnut red, black, black and tan, brindle, all with white feet, chest, and tail tip

Overall Grooming Needs: Low

Personality traits/Temperament: Independent, Smart, Poised

Energy Level: Very energetic

Tendency to Drool: Low

Tendency to Snore: Low

Tendency to Bark: Low

Tendency to Dig: Low

Social/Attention Needs: Moderate


Basenji are healthy dogs. Their life expectancy is 13 – 14 years. Responsible breeders need to screen for several health disorders such as hypothyroidism, a type of inflammatory bowel disease called IPSID, canine hip dysplasia, and progressive retinal atrophy. Fanconi syndrome, an inheritable disorder in which the renal (kidney) tubes fail to reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients, is unusually seen in Basenjis. Some dogs can develop itchy skin conditions where baths with a high quality dog shampoo and conditioner is recommended. Flea control is also essential. As with all breeds, their ears should be checked regularly, and the teeth should be brushed often to avoid dental diseases.


Adequate nutrition provides the best health care for your Basenji. The Basenji should do well on high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared. Add a high quality multivitamin to complete the nutritional circle. Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior). Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog becomes overweight. Supply clean and fresh water regularly.


Early socialization 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 called 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. Their training sessions should last no more than five or 10 minutes because they lose their interest quickly.


Basenjis require lots of regular exercises to keep them from becoming bored. They are energetic, inquisitive, and very active. Boredom can lead to destructive behavior in Basenjis. For long playing sessions, a well-fenced yard or securely on a lead is required. A Basenji should never run loose, because they have an instinct to hunt, and the dog might not be able to resist the urge to run off on a chase. Use paw balm daily to protect their feet.

Fun Fact

In Kenya, the dogs are used to lure lions out of their caves. Masai hunters use about four of these dogs at a time to find lions and get them out in the open.


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