Basenji Breed Information and Facts

Considering getting a Basenji? Makes sure you know the characteristics of the breed. We've put together the following Basenji breed information and facts to create a profile of this dog so you have the critical information necessary to make a decision.


The Basenji is the only breed of dog that does not bark, however that does not make them mute. The Basenji whines, whimpers, grunts, screams and even yodels. The barkless Basenji has a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years.


The Basenji is one of the oldest living dog breeds. The Basenji originated from Central Africa, as far back as 6,000 years ago. The dogs were given to the Pharaohs of Egypt as gifts and were highly treasured. The Egyptians carved depictions of the Basenji on tombs and walls.

Unlike many dogs, the Basenji is product of nature and not of selective breeding. In their native Africa, they lived with and hunted with the Pygmy tribes of the country, but often had to learn how to survive on their own.


The Basenji weighs 22 to 24 pounds and measures 16 to 17 inches.

Grooming Needs

The Basenji has a short, thin coat that only sheds a little. The Basenji just needs to be brushed once a week and bathed occasionally. The Basenji sheds very little and has no typical doggie odor. This breed is very clean and preens their coat like a cat. Like all dogs, the Basenji also needs basic grooming. Brush their teeth, clean their ears and trim their nails on a regular basis.  


The Basenji is aloof and prefers to do things in their own way, on their own time.


The Basenji is known for being a cat-like dog. For thousands of years, the Basenji had to rely on their own skills and intelligence to survive in the African desert. As a result, they are very independent and serious. The Basenji is not the type of dog that wants to play fetch.  

The Basenji tends to be standoffish and is not overly affectionate. The Basenji does love their family, but is not fawning and adoring. However, they are energetic and curious. Basenjis do like to play and climb, and want to be included in family activities. Although they are more independent than other breeds, Basenjis still need time and attention.

Training Needs

The Basenji wants to be the dominant member of the household. The Basenji is intelligent and eager to learn, but has to be motivated to follow commands. They respond best to a leader who is patient, confident and consistent. With proper training, Basenjis can go on to compete in agility and lure coursing.

The Basenji can be aggressive with other dogs, especially those of the same sex. Although they are never aggressive with people, Basenjis do tend to be aloof with strangers. As part of their training, Basenjis also need early socialization with other dogs and lots of people.

Activity Level

The Basenji is highly active and has lots of energy to burn. The Basenji needs a long daily walk and time to run around and play in a secure area. If Basenjis do not get enough exercise they can become destructive and act out.

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