The Basenji is a medium-sized short haired dog from Africa that curiously does not bark and is virtually odourless. It belongs to the popular hound group category.

Basenji breed Group


Size of the Basenji

Medium. The Basenji is a stocky, squarish dog, and is roughly the size height and length in measurement.

Country of origin

The Basenji originates from the Congo in Africa.

Time of original development

Antiquity. The exact time of the origin of the Basenji is unclear, but there are drawings of a similar looking dog on the tombs of the Pharaohs. But the breed we know now can certainly be traced back to the Congo in Africa in the 17th century.

The first pair of Basenjis arrived in the UK in 1936 and became the first to breed in this country. Unfortunately, this unusual and almost cat like creature is seldom seen, with just 51 new dogs registered with the Kennel Club in 2015.

The Basenji through History

A competent and versatile working dog used for hunting game in Congo. It is thought the non-barking Basenji was popular because barking dogs could have alerted enemies to vulnerable camps in central Africa.

Basenji Breed introduction and overview

The Basenji is a short coated dog with a squarish body. The head is strong, the brow is wrinkled and the muzzle short. The ears are triangular and erect, and the distinctive tail curls over the back.

The Basenji is also known as the congo dog, barkless dog or the talking dog! In fact the name Basenji translates as ‘small wild thing from the bush’.

The Basenji does not bark! It is still a vocal dog though, expressing his emotions and opinions with howls, growls, chortles and yodels!
The virtually odourless Basenji is ideal for the house proud owner

This breed can stand confidentally on its hind legs, can also climb very well, is virtually odourless and even washes and grooms himself too! It dislikes cold weather and the rain.

Basenji temperament

The breed is generally placid, with a gentle, and slightly nervous disposition. It tends to form a strong bond with its master, but can be loving and affectionate in the family unit, with early socialisation skills. It requires constant and firm commands to understand boundaries in the home and outdoors.

It can be a little aloof with unfamiliar dogs, humans and children although rarely aggressive.

Cats and smaller pets are not normally compatible with Basenji.

Colour varieties of the Basenji

The breed comes in a variety of colours which include:

  • Black & White
  • Black Tan & White
  • Brindle
  • Brindle & White
  • Red & White
  • Tricolour

Size and weight of the Basenji

Height bitch 38-41cms

Height dog 41-43cms

Weight (kilos) bitch 9-11kgs

Weight (kilos) dog 10-12kgs

Exercise requirements of the Basenji

An energetic and athletic breed that requires at least an hour of vigorous exercise daily off the lead. Boredom and lack of exercise can result in destructive behaviour around the home, including chewing.

Basenjis are natural hunters and may ignore recall and prone to roam. Gardens should be secure and escape proof.

Is the Basenji a good dog for a first time dog owner?

No. The breed has been reported as one of the most difficult to train, so requires a handler with experience and the skill to establish authority and pecking order, to prevent the dog challenging for role as pack leader.

A good alternative for anyone interested in this breed would be the Saluki or Greyhound, which are far more family friendly.

Basenji coat length

Very short.

Grooming requirements of the Basenji

Low. The Basenji is unique in that it grooms it short and fuss-free coat itself. Little grooming is ever required for this dog breed, but ears should be checked regularly for redness or infection.


Yes. The breed is reputed not to shed, or may shed very little, making it a possible choice of dog for allergy sufferers.

Health Issues in the Basenji

This is a fairly hardy and healthy dog with just a few reported health issues spotted in the breed, but do consult your breeder about the following known problems:

  • Hip Dysplasia - A malformation of the hip joint, has been found in the breed, so ensure your puppy has been hip scored.
  • Kidney problems
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy
  • Anorexia

As with all pedigree dogs, it is very important to obtain a puppy from a reputable source where you can be guaranteed that it has been bred with a view to avoiding the inherent physical and psychological diseases of the breed.

Average lifespan of the Basenji

A Basenji in good health should enjoys a life expectancy of around 12-13 years.

Approximate Basenji pedigree puppy price

Basenjis only come into season once a year, rather than the normal 2 seasons per years for other breeds, so litters are rare.

Expect to pay up to £1,000 for a puppy, and be aware that available litters of puppies are few and far between. Register your interest with established reputable breeders, so they can notify you when a litter is expected. You may have to travel long distances to find your suitable puppy. In fact, there were only 32 Basenji puppies registered with the Kennel Club in 2016.

There are generally 4-6 puppies in the average litter.

Estimating how much a Basenji would need to be fed each day

A dog or bitch weighing 10kgs will require around 237gms of complete dry food daily. The cost of feeding a 10kgs dog or bitch is around £4.00 per week.

Our figures are based on feeding an ‘above average quality’ and popular complete dry food bought from a leading supermarket. A good quality feed is suggested for the energetic dogs in the hound group.

Other financial costs to consider when owning any dog breed

Remember to budget for essential pet treatments and procedures that are not covered by pet insurance policies including:

  • Worming and fleas preparations
  • Annual Vaccination boosters
  • Neutering or spaying
  • Microchipping
  • Dental treatment