Basenji- Learn facts about the African Barkless dog

Basenji is also known as the “African Barkless Dog” and is believed to have originated from Egypt.

This dog breed is believed to date as far as 5000 years ago and was also found in Congo.

These canines are endearing and clever and make a great family addition.

Basenji belongs to the Sighthound dog group, which means he is a hunter that uses speed and has great eyesight to assists them as they are doing what they love best.

This dog may be small but you should not let you fool you as he has a big personality that covers for that.

They have not known barkers but they have other means of communication. Sometimes these dogs will whine and in other times ha make yodeling-like noises.

But this is not all that the Basenji has to offer.

If you are in this dog breed guide, maybe you owned one of the barkless dogs before. You may also be planning to have him as the next family addition.

Either way, we as Mydogsinfo got you covered as we are going to offer you with all the information that you need to know about this incredible dog breed. We are going to look at everything including his looks, qualities, and tricks that you can use to take care of him.

So, why don’t you stick with us as we go through this Basenji guide?
African Barkless dog

About the Basenji

Originating from central Africa, the Basenji is a dog breed that was highly revered by the Egyptians.

This dog is also known by other names that include;

  • Congo Dog
  • The African Barkless Dog
  • Congo Terrier

The African Barkless Dog is a medium-sized canine that was often gifted to the ancient Egyptian pharaohs as a sign of loyalty and respect.

And although these dogs were hunters they also doubled as companions.

His great looks and personality traits have made this dog attracts admirers and lovers the world over.

These pooches are very intelligent, however, they may also have a stubborn streak and as far as pleasing their owners is concerned, they are not the best at it.

He will learn the commands and tricks that you teach, but whether he decides to do what you have taught him, will remain solely on him.

Basenjis have also developed a reputation of loving to chew things that he finds lying down in the house. It is, therefore, important that you pick up your belonging and put them out of this dog’s reach.

They are also great escape artist just like the Xolo dog breed and will require you to properly fence your yard to keep him from escaping.

Xolo dog is also the ancient dog of the Anubis and is also known as the Mexican Hairless dog. You can learn more about this breed by visiting this Xoloiztcuintli guide.

But it is not all doom and gloom, because this dog has his positive traits.

There are a lot of positive things that can be said about this dog, most of which we are going to look at later in this guide.

But for now, let us look at his history and the story behind where he is today. 

The Barkless and Smiling Congo dog

Origin and history of the Congo Terrier

This is one of the oldest dog breeds that is known to mankind.

It is believed that the 1st Basenjis were domesticated as early as 5000 years ago. Some people also believe that the first dogs that humans domesticated resembled the African Barkless Dog.

Before they were even taken down the Nile River to Egypt, these doggos were already well-established.

They have been depicted in many Egyptian pieces of art and were mainly given to pharaohs and way to show respect and loyalty.

These dogs have seen the fall of ancient civilization such as the Egyptian one and are still surviving to date.

The keen eyesight, great sense of smell, and speed of the Basenji made him a versatile and prized hunter among the African tribesmen.

Basenji is a Congolese name that means the “village dog.”

Over the years Basenjis went unnoticed by Western civilization and dog lovers. It is not until the 19th century that these dogs slowly found their way from Africa to the US and European states.

After finding their way to the west these dogs were developed further to become the dog that we all know today.

Breed and pedigree recognition

Both the United and the American Kennel Club recognize this breed.

The Federation Cynologique International also recognizes this dog and put him under the Spitz and primitive type dog group.

Journey to the world of the African Basenji

Cons and Pros of the Congo Terrier


✓ These dogs form powerful bonds with members of their family.

✔ They are super energetic and playful dogs.

✓ Basenjis are highly intelligent and therefore, very trainable.


✘ The Basenji is a master at devising escape and you will be required to make sure that your home is escape-proof.

✗ They have strong instincts to chase after moving objects.

✘ Without enough physical stimulation, this dog can become increasingly destructive.

General characteristics and appearance of the Basenji

Basenji Dog summary table
Height  Male: 16–17 inches, Female: 15–16 inches
Weight Male: 22–26 pounds, Female: 20–24 pounds
Lifespan 12 to 16 years
Breed Type Sighthound
Purpose Hunting and companion dogs
Suitable For Active and playful families in general, experienced dog handlers
Grooming requirements low
Color Variations Red, Brindle, Pied, Black, Tricolor(chestnut and black)
Health concerns Hypothyroidism, Persistent Pupillary Membranes, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Basenji Enteropathy
Temperament Curious, Energetic, Intelligent, Affectionate, Alert, Playful and Poised
Other Names Congo Dog, Congo Terrier or the African Barkless Dog

Weight and height

The Congo Dog is a medium-sized dog.

This pooch can reach heights of between 16 to 17 inches for the males and 15 to 16 inches for the females.

On the other hand, male Basenjis can weight between 22 and 26 pounds while their female counterparts can weigh between 20 and 24 pounds.

The Physical Appearance of the Basenji

The Barkless Dog is a compact and elegant canine.

These dogs have smooth musculatures and balanced structures which make them well-adapted for speed and agility and they also have inquiring alertness.

They have small almond-shaped eyes that can come in various colors that include amber, brown, and hazel.

These dogs also have muzzles that are shorter than their skulls that can either be brown or black.

Also, this dog has a wrinkly head that gives out the expression of a dog deep in thoughts and worry.

Basenji’s ears are prickly and locked on the top of their heads which makes hunting easier.

The tail of a Congo Terrier should curl on top of his back and should have a white tip.

Dog Breeds basenji

The Congo Dog coat appearance and shedding

Basenjis are covered by a shiny, smooth and short coat that can come in a variety of colors;

Some of the most common Basenji colors are;

Red Brindle Pied
black Tricolor White and brindle

These dogs maintain a white underbelly, white paws, and white tail-tips.

Below are some colors that are not commonly seen in a Barkless Dog;

  • Sable and white
  • White and cream
  • Mahogany and white
  • Black brindle and white
  • White “blue Belton” and blue cream

These dogs shed but fortunately, it is not as much as other doggos do. They are also considered to be hypoallergenic and so, if you suffer from dog-related allergies, this may be the canine for you.

Is Basenji a good family pet

Personality traits and temperament of the Basenji

Generally, the Congo Terrier is an independent, playful, alert, and sometimes aloof dog.

With that said, however, he also has a mischievous side with strong emotions which are more like human emotions.

These dogs strongly form bonds with members of their family and are extremely loyal to their owners, especially those that are closely involved in taking care of them.

They enjoy cuddling and spending time with those they love.

You can also live with this pooch in an apartment and provide you make sure that he is well-mentally and physically stimulated, you can live him alone at home for extended periods.

But make sure you do not leave him alone for too long as he will easily get anxious and even depressed. This can make him extremely destructive.

Unfortunately, these dogs have a habit of chewing that he can reach. It is therefore crucial that once you get a Basenji that you keep all the essential things out of his reach, especially shoes.

You can also buy him lots of chew toys to satisfy his urge to chew on things.

These dogs do not bark but have other means that they can use to communicate to you which include modeling, howling, and even using facial expressions depending on their mood.

Basenji Breed information

Is the Congo Terrier a  good family dog?

Basenjis makes exceptional family pets as long as they are socialized and trained well and early enough. They are also very protective of their family members.

However, because these dogs are predominantly hunters, they cannot be trusted around cats and other small animals. This is unless they have been raised together with them and have been introduced to as many animals as possible.

If you are planning to add a Basenji to your family, you should make sure that your home is escape-proof.

These dogs seem to always find a way to escape.

It is also important that you take a picture of him, in case, he goes wandering off, you can easily use the pictures to find him.

But as I always say time and again, dogs are individual their qualities are mainly affected by how you raise them.

Traits Rating
Prey Drive

Frequently asked questions

Is a Basenji recommended for novice dog owners?

Basenjis are not usually recommended for first-time dog owners. But as long as you have done enough research about them and you are equipped with enough information about him and understand how to take care of him, then why not go for it.

Does a Basenji stink?

Basenjis do not have the typical pooch smell. These dogs are more like cats and love to self-groom which leaves them odorless and clean most of the time.

Akitas also love to self-groom to the point of being finicky. You can learn more about these Japanese canines in this dog breed guide.

Are Basenjis aggressive?

Basenjis only show aggressive tendencies to smaller pets such as cats but this is mainly because of their high prey drive. And although they are sometimes aloof towards strangers, they are not aggressive towards them.

How long do Congo dogs live?

Basenjis have an average lifespan of between 12 and 16 years.

Congo Terrier puppies

Basenji mothers often have a litter of about 4 puppies and only go into heat once every year, unlike other dogs. In some cases, the litters can be as large as 6 puppies.

These puppies take around 12 months to reach maturity but still maintain their puppy playfulness till they are around 3 years old when they start calming down.

The growth predictor will help you better understand the Basenji’s growth progression;

Age Male Weight (pounds) Female Weight (pounds)
3 months 8 7
6 months 12 11
12 months 21 19
18 months 24 22

Note: The above growth chart is just an estimate.

The average price of a Basenji puppy is approximately $800. But depending on your location and your breed the cost could be lower or higher. For superior lines and top-line pedigrees, the price is usually between $2000 and $4500.

You can also visit the Basenji Club of America to see if there are any put up for adoption.

Another thing that you should once our puppy gets home is name him. Here is a list of some unique and great small dog names.

Basenji puppies

Grooming requirements

The grooming needs of a Congo Terrier are pretty straight-forward.

These dogs have low maintenance needs and their coats do not need to be brushed often.

They should be bathed once a month at most and their nails should be kept short by trimming them once every two weeks.

Exercising a Basenji

The Basenji is a breed that loves to be entertained and it is recommended that you and your Congo Dog get involved in a lot of daily activities.

These activities can include;

  • Playing puzzles and other mind games
  • Agility training
  • Coursing
  • Going for 2 daily walks

It also goes without saying that when you are taking this dog for walks, you should make sure that you leash him considering that he has a high prey drive.

Having two Basenjis and letting them play by themselves in the yard is a great way to make sure that they are properly physically stimulated.

However, as we said earlier, these dogs are great escape artists, and any time they are playing in the yard, you should closely monitor them. Also, make sure that the yard is well-fenced.


Congo dog dietary requirements

Just like any other sighthound such as the Azawakh, the diet you give to this dg determines how healthy he will be, and his growth in general.

The diet of a Basenji will change as he grows.

Puppies are not fed in the same diet as a fully grown Congo Dog, but talking to your veterinarian is crucial for any dietary changes.

You should make sure that you meet the dog’s calorie needs and a general rule of thumb is to give the dog 25 calories for every pound that he weighs also putting in mind his activity level.

Basenji Daily Food Consumption
Calories 600
Cups of Kibble 🍗🍗

As puppies grow they may need to be fed twice as much as adult Basenjis because they have a higher metabolism rate.

These meals should be divided into 4 daily portions and reduce to 3 as they grow older.

If you are feeding your Basenji on store-bought foods, make sure that you check the labels for the number of calories and preferences.

As you do all these, monitor your canine’s weight and give him enough exercise to prevent him from gaining excess weight.

Training your Basenji

Early socialization and training are very important for a Basenji.

These dogs are smart but they can give you trouble during training because they are sometimes very mischievous.

And although these dogs are described as hard to train they learn new tricks and commands quite quickly and the key is in doing it right.

They have a short attention span and it is helpful to you if you kept the training sessions as short as possible.

This will prevent them from getting bored.

You should also use positive reinforcement and praise during training to make it the best experience for the dog. Also, do not be afraid to get creative as it will help you have a higher chance of success.


Health problems

Basenji is free of any major health issues that can cause lots of suffering to him.

They also have fewer genetic health complications but they are also susceptible to some conditions that include;

  • Hypothyroidism can lead to a slower metabolism
  • Persistent Pupillary Membranes are strands of eye tissue which are remnants of lenses that the dog used before being born
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy can slowly make the dog get blind over time
  • Basenji Enteropathy

Breed summary

Basenji is a medium-sized and ancient dog breed that has survived over the years by being an independent thinker and being fast.

These dogs were bred to be hunters that use their speed and vision to their advantage.

They, therefore, have a high prey drive and should never be taken outdoors for walks or any other form of activity without a leash.

Also known as the Congo Terrier, this pooch is a great escape artist and has been known to dig holes and even jump over fences to set himself free.

Once you bring a Basenji home, he quickly adapts and considers himself as part of the family. It is left to you to make sure that you give him enough time and attention to make sure that he is well taken care of and is happy.

So, was this guide helpful to you.

You can share your feedback, questions, and some of the thoughts that you may have in the comment section below.

There you go, WOOF!

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