If you are a true dog lover, we know you cannot deny but be a die-hard fan of this majestic breed—the Basenji. They have everything from looks to a distinctive personality. 

But to adopt a Basenji, you must know things beyond their dashing appearance. So, to help you with that, we have covered everything about them! You’ll find everything from their temperament and traits to grooming and training needs. 

So let’s get started!


Height16-17 inches
Weight22-24 lbs
Life span12-16 years
Exercise needs1 hour daily
TemperamentStubborn, Affectionate, Standoffish with strangers
GroomingLow maintenance

Origin of the Basenji

The ancient breed named the Basenji originated as a gift to Egyptians from the heart of Africa. The region they first domesticated is now referred to as the Democratic Republic of Congo. The Egyptians have always praised their demeanor and even used similar-looking dogs in their artifacts and tombs. 

Often called the “Barless” dog breed, Basenjis spent their early centuries working as hunting dogs with the African tribes. They used to move in packs to hunt small games. The tribes chose the Basenji dog breed as their loyal companions and tied bells around their necks. The bells kept the people alerted about Basenjis being around them or not. 

These dogs were highly skilled, so they also had demands from other parts of Europe and the United States. During the 19th and 20th centuries, they gained popularity among the masses and dog enthusiasts. After years and years of adjusting to the “modern world,” Basenji now holds a special place in the doggo world. Even though it is now a rare breed, they are always the talk of the town.

Appearance of the Basenji

The Basenji dog breed has a “gentlemanly” appearance that makes them look no less than a prince charming. Here’s all you need to know as far as looks go:

1. Size

It is a small-sized breed that stands up to 16-17 inches and weighs about 22-24 pounds. Apartment living is pretty suitable for Basenjis. In fact, the Basenji puppies are also apartment dogs as they do not require a big garden to hop around. However, access to a fenced and open space would be appreciated.

2. Pointy ears

Coming back to their appearance, the Basenji dog breed has erected and pointy ears. You see that serious guy look on their face? We believe it’s because of their sharp, almond-shaped eyes. A straight neck that looks perfect for a bow to be placed. Their body is structured so that their neck blends seamlessly with their shoulders and back. 

3. Strong build

Also, the tough muscles make them look like they are always ready. Ready for what? Only they know. In fact, Basenjis are famous for their “forever snatched” look. They look clean because of their sharp features, which complement their personality well. 

And this would be a relief to hear that the Basenji dog breed has a short and smooth fur coat. They are not the ones to spread around the hair shed. 

Personality and Temperament

Dogs have a unique personality and temperament. Knowing about any dog’s persona and vibe is essential before adopting a dog. If you are a cat person, you will not want a dog that cannot stand cats. 

So, to make it easier for you—here is all the information you need about the temperament and personality traits of Basenji:

1. Independent and stubborn

Due to their rich history of being hunting dogs, the Basenji dog breed is an independent breed that is known for their opinionated nature. They can make decisions stand-alone as they used to hunt based on their gut. This nature can also be problematic as it can translate to being stubborn. They may not respond to the commands and throw tantrums at their owners. This is why Basenji needs an experienced dog owner who can train them.

2. Energetic

One of the best things about Basenji is its energy levels. This dog breed is always up for playing games. It is essential to keep them busy, as the last thing you want is a bored Basenji. As you know, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” and the same can happen to these dogs. If they are not involved in activities, they can develop destructive behaviors.

3. Quiet

Basenji is famously also referred to as the “barkless dog.” They have a different shape of voice box, so the voice travels differently than it would in other dog breeds. This is why Basenjis were also used to hunt with these bells on their collars to alert their owners. However, they are not 100% silent. Basenji makes some yodeling voices to express themselves. So, if you want a dog who does not bark and is quiet most of the time, consider Basenji. 

But wait, would they have if they could bark like other dogs? What do you think?

4. Reserved around strangers

Even though Basenji is a social dog that gels well with the family, it might not behave the same with strangers. This dog breed can be standoffish with strangers and may stay aloof. This is a very rare sight to watch Basenjis sitting aloof and inactive. But yes, you will need to give them early socialization training so they can familiarize themselves with civilized environments.

5. Affectionate

Another fascinating personality trait of the Basenji dog breed is their gentle and affectionate nature. This breed can be very pleasing, especially around children and with their owners. If we ignore their once-in-a-while stubbornness, Basenjis can be pretty fun to be around. They love to accompany their owners and dislike being left alone. 

6. Strong prey drive

Due to their hunting instincts, Basenjis have strong prey drives. You may find these small canine buddies running after small animals. Also, this behavior makes them clever and can easily escape. So, it is recommended not to keep them off the leash in an open space.

Believe us- If they get a chance to, they will run the whole town after that one squirrel.

7. Curious

Last but not least, their curiosity makes them more admirable for dog enthusiasts. The Basenji dog breed is always very excited about new stuff. Whether going for a walk, watching a thriller mystery, or playing mentally stimulating games- they are always curious to get to the end of it. 

Also, Basenjis can be good around cats if they are socialized and trained to do so!

Fun fact

The most common expression on Basenji is the furrowed brows, as they are always so focused(on treats).
a Basenji dog looks on into the distance

Grooming Needs of the Basenji

Basenjis have low grooming needs, which makes them suitable for dog owners. An interesting fact about the Basenji dog breed is that they clean themselves, too! Like cats, they like to groom themselves, and you may find them licking themselves all over. This is one of the reasons why Basenjis barely have the “dog odor.” 

Yet, they do need certain grooming and care. So here is everything you need about the grooming needs of the Basenji dog breed:

1. Supplies needed

As a dog owner, you must always have a dog supplies kit. This kit should include everything essentials for grooming a dog, like scissors, brushes, or cleaners. For Basenjis, here are the supplies you would need for grooming:

  • A soft bristle brush
  • Clean cotton cloth (damp and dry)
  • Dog-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush
  • Dog friendly mild shampoo and soaps
  • Styptic powder
  • Fleas and ticks prevention creams and products

2. Brushing the coat

Basenji have short and smooth coats, so they do not need as much grooming as other breeds. You should brush their coat at least once a week. This will ensure the removal of any unwanted loose hair or breakages.

Please ensure not to use human brushes as they can be harsh on Basenji’s skin and cause irritation. Instead, you should use a soft bristle brush and rubber grooming gloves. This will promote their coat health.

3. Cleaning

For cleaning Basenjis, you will need to go the extra mile! It is a common problem in dogs to develop piles and piles of dirt or debris, especially in areas like ears and paws. Please take a damp cloth to clean these areas every once in a while. Ear wax and debris buildup can cause skin infections. 

Also, excessive eye boogers are a red flag. It would be best if you kept their eyes clean, too. After all, Basenji is known for their cat-like “clean” look. Gotta live up to that!

4. Fleas and ticks

Another struggle with dogs is their worst enemy- fleas and ticks. These bacteria can leech upon the Basenji dog breed. You must take care of them and eliminate them. These bacteria might be outside the body but can impact the health and make your dog sick or lethargic. Also, they can cause severe skin allergies and wounds. 

Exercise and Training Needs

Basenji might be a challenging dog to train, but they are definitely the fun ones. You must schedule their training hours for every day. Daily body movement is essential for any dog, and for Basenji, you need to give them 1 hour of training. These training sessions can include fun activities, jogging, fetching, etc. Here’s a couple more training tips:

1. Find creative ways to train

However, Basenji does not respond well to obedience training. You will need to go the extra mile to handle them in a way that they stay fit. The best thing to do is to indulge them in lure courses. The Basenji dog breed is curious and active and loves chasing objects.

So, if you don’t find them an object to chase, they’ll chase your favorite sandals.

2. Positive reinforcement training

For training this dog breed, you must start with positive reinforcement training. Your dog must know the commands and ways to respond to them. In positive reinforcement, you must reward the dog whenever they do something desirable.

In the case of Basenjis, if you command them to fetch a frisbee, and if they respond positively, you toss a treat before them! If they don’t, then you try again. 

3. Be patient and civil

It is essential to note that you must not use harsh training methods on Basenjis or any other dog breed. You should focus on teaching them manners and civilized behavior. The best part is that they do not require rigorous training, but playtime is essential. You can take them on a 20-30-minute walking routine if they do not want to play. 

The Basenji dog breed is intelligent that thrives on their independent and critical thinking skills. For such dogs, you must focus on their mental abilities and strengths. You can enroll Basenjis in games and sports that are mentally stimulating and challenge their thinking skills. 

Final Thoughts

The Basenji dog breed is intelligent, good-looking, and a dream come true for a dog enthusiast. However, their stubbornness comes in the way of training them. Such unwanted behaviors can be challenging to manage for a newbie owner. This is one of the primary reasons we do not recommend Basenji for first-time dog owners. Apart from this, this barkless breed is a fantastic dog to adopt. 

If you are an experienced dog owner willing to try to get Basenjis off their couch, this breed is for you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it true that Basenji doesn’t bark?

Yes, indeed, the Basenji dog breed does not bark. But it does not mean they cannot. It is the quietest dog or is labeled as the “barkless” dog because they do not bark like other dogs. They have a different voice box than other breeds, so their unique sounds are called yodels. If you are lucky enough to catch a Basenji yodel, never shy away from boasting about it!

Is a Basenji a good family dog?

Yes, Basenjis can fit within a family. The only way to make it easier for these dogs is to socialize them at an early age. Basejis are usually reserved around strangers, but they can get comfortable as they familiarize themselves with the people in the house. Hence, with proper training, Basejis can be a good family dog.

Are Basenji dogs hypoallergenic?

Congratulations, Basenji is an hypoallergenic breed! So, if you are sensitive to allergens, this breed is right for you. However, no breed is 100% hypoallergenic. You can always groom Basenji’s and care for their coat, so there is minimal shed.

Can you leave a Basenji alone?

Yes and No. Basenji is a social breed and enjoys human companionship. But they can extend their alone time to at most 8 hours. We do not recommend leaving any dog for more than 4-5 hours occasionally. Leaving Basenji alone for extended periods regularly can cause destructive behaviors and separation anxiety. Hence, it would be best to leave Basenjis alone occasionally or in an emergency.

Is Basenji suitable for new dog owners?

Unfortunately, we do not recommend Basenji for new dog owners. Even though these dogs’ grooming needs and temperament suit the newbie owners, the training needs may not. Basenji is an independent dog that should be left off leash as they can escape easily. Also, as they are “barkless,” you cannot expect much vocalness from them. But other breeds might be great for you, like Affenpinschers.

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