What is a Basenji

  • By: Mick Whitefield
  • Time to read: 3 min.

This is the “Dog that does not bark”. Bred widely in the Congolese area of Central Africa this was a hunting dog in the 17 and 1800’s. Basenji in Congolese translates as “Village Dog”. Generally clever dogs with an air of independence but still very friendly, loyal and faithful to their owners. Still used as a hunting dog in some areas but now a much more domesticated dog good for families wanting an energetic, lively and faithful four legged friend.

Quick Facts about the Basenji Hound

Lifespan of a Basenji

12 to 15 Years

Basenjis Height at the Withers

Males                         up to 17 inches                or          43 cms
Females                     up to 16 inches                or          40 cms

Weight of a Basenji Hound

Males                           20 to 24 lbs        or           9 to 11 kgs
Females                       19 to 22 lbs        or           8.5 to 10 kgs

Average Price of an Basenji Dog

In the USA prices range from $800 to $2000 dependant upon breeding history and pedigree.
In the UK these dogs are about £350 to £500.

Are Basenji Dogs Hypoallergenic?

Yes. This breed is considered to be hypoallergenic as they lose very little hair and do not drool.

Breeding Group of the Basenji

Basenji are recognised by the kennel associations in the Hound Group, in particular listed as a Sighthound.

What does the Basenji Hound look like?

The Basenji is a small lithe muscular dog, with a slim narrow angular head with an unusual furrowed brow. A strong short low jawline under an angular nose to that furrowed brow sitting between erect ears usually facing forward over deep-set narrow eyes giving it a look that it is studying you closely (and it probably is). This was after all a hunting dog in years gone by.


The neck is slender but muscular, atop a slim but muscular set of shoulders over slender front legs with smooth hair but seemingly wrinkled in places. The Basenji has a slender but muscular body frame similar to a boxer but thinner across the chest. The back is straight with little curvature, of medium length.


A slim waist leading to curving hips at the rear end give rise to a corked or twisted upright tail, usually slipping to one side atop muscular hind top legs and slim legs to the feet.

The coat is short, smooth and and mildly coarse but soft to the touch with occasional areas of loose skin (probably genetic due to hunting and fighting – see history).

Colours tend to be Chestnut Red and White (Most Common), then there is also a mix of Black and White, Tri-colours of Black, Tan and White and a Brindle similar to that of some Greyhounds.

Characteristics of the Basenji

The most commonly known fact about this dog is that this breed of dog does not bark, it whines or yodels assumably due to generations of hunting, where a bark could be detrimental to its hunting abilities.

A very alert dog with an air of independence, very friendly and very energetic. These dogs are loyal and also affectionate to family but can be wary of strangers. Highly intelligent and in need of good exercise on a daily basis. Ideal for a growing family who want a dog to expend energy with them.

This dog still has quite a high prey drive so will have to introduced to other household pets at an early age, but still might run for the neighbours cat if its adventurous enough to enter the garden.

History of the Basenji Hound

The Basenji was originally a hunting dog from the Congolese area with records dating around the 1700’s and at that time highly prized the local tribes.

Sometime during the early 20th century, Basenjis were brought into parts of Europe and the United States where the breed was further developed and refined.

To this day, the Basenji remains a skilled hunter and working dog for herders yet still with an affectionate manner and a loyal demeanour to anyone prepared to spend the time training it.

Paintings, engravings and statues of dogs that look like the Basenji Hound have also been discovered in Egyptian tombs obviously dating back much further in time giving cause to believe that some form of this dog breed was used and possibly venerated by some Egyptians.

Basenji Egyptian Style


Egyptian Dog Statue

The Basenji is believed to be one of our most enduring, extant breeds that is exceptionally similar to its historical ancestors today.

DNA studies have identified the Basenji to be a basal breed of domestic dog and is a genetic divergent, but long removed subspecies of the grey wolf.

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