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A Guide to Basenjis


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Have you ever had a Basenji in your family before? Are you welcoming a new Basenji puppy into your home? Whether you are simply looking for more information on Basenjis or are brand new to this breed, you’ve come to the right place.

This guide to Basenjis was compiled with new dog owners in mind, but we also have tips and tricks for those who are seasoned fur parents, breeders, or those who are simply new to this specific breed.

Your guide to Basenjis

embark basenji guide

Basenjis have been around for thousands of years. They are independent, smart, and poised, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC went on to say that the Basenji is Africa’s “Barkless Dog,” and a good fit for owners who can meet their exercise and training needs. Basenjis need to engage in vigorous exercise daily for at least one hour; however, your Basenji would benefit from several hours of play.

You can adopt a Basenji at an animal shelter or find a breeder. It’s important to look for breeders that can provide detailed health records of their puppies (and parents!) as well as genetic testing for health conditions Basenjis are prone to (see below for a list). The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and their Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) maintains a voluntary database of Basenjis and their health screening results.

Fun facts

Here are some fun facts about Basenjis, according to the AKC:

  • Basenjis might be the world’s oldest dog breed
  • They may have inspired an Egyptian God
  • Basenjis did not come to the West until the 1900s
  • They don’t bark, they yodel 
  • They self-groom like cats

Physical characteristics

The Basenji is a small, short-haired dog. This dog has a short back, curled tail, arched neck, and wrinkled forehead.

“Elegant and graceful, the whole demeanor is one of poise and inquiring alertness. The balanced structure and the smooth musculature enable it to move with ease and agility,” according to the AKC.

Basenjis come in various colors including black and white; red and white; sable and white; and more. They typically stand at about 16 or 17 inches tall and weigh an average of 24 pounds, with females often a bit smaller than the males.

Bringing your new Basenji home


Whether you’re adding a puppy or a dog to your family, it’s important to remember that everything is new to your furry friend. When you bring the pup home for the first time, ensure your house is fairly quiet so your pooch can get used to his or her surroundings without any anxiety; you were both probably a bit nervous about the change anyway. You want your pup to explore and learn about your family, according to

Take lots of pictures! This day will never come again so be sure to document your Basenji’s first day at home! Click here for some tips to help you get the best pics of your pup. 

Did you name your dog yet? Teaching your pup his or her name should be one of the first things you do. It’s easy, just continuously refer to the pup as Bella or Rocky or whatever the name may be. What’s not so easy is training the pup. You may want to get help with this by enrolling your new Basenji in a training group or get your own personal trainer. This will help get your puppy going to the bathroom in the right places, keep him or her from eating your favorite shoes, stop excessive barking or whining, and much more. Dogs make some funky sounds don’t they? Click here to learn more about dog sounds. 


A balanced diet is vital to your dog’s growth and health, according to the ASPCA, and portion control is key.

Many commercial pet foods are excellent choices, but be sure to read the label and ensure that what you’re buying is based on your dog’s caloric needs and preferences.

“Barring any special needs, illness-related deficiencies, or instructions from your vet, your pet should be able to get all the nutrients he or she needs from high-quality commercial pet foods, which are specially formulated with these standards in mind,” the ASPCA reported.

You should also keep in mind that a dog’s diet should change as they grow. A puppy should have a different diet than an adult dog or senior dog, and senior dogs should have a different diet than adult dogs. Senior dogs should also have blood taken more regularly to monitor their systemic health.    

The best thing you can do for your pup when it comes to diet is talk to your veterinarian about a meal plan.



“Basenjis just being themselves offer endless entertainment,” according to the Basenji Club of America.

The club recommends starting activities with your Basenji, like coursing, agility, rally, and obedience. But there are so many ways to play! You can take your dog for a run or hike and play fetch, tug-of-war, or frisbee. You can even play hide and seek with a treat! 


Basenjis groom themselves like cats do! They typically have short coats and don’t require a lot of brushing. Keep an eye on their nails though! They still need to have those cut.

Your Basenji mix


There are several varieties of Basenji mixes out there. Here are some of the names of Basenji mixes, according to

  • Basenji x Beagle mix = Baseagle
  • Basenji x American Eskimo mix = Eskenji
  • Basenji x Great Dane mix = Great Dasenji
  • Basenji x Labrador Retriever mix = Labrasenji
  • Basenji x Welsh Corgi mix = Corsengi

“Basenjis are relatively rare dogs, like Keeshonds and Borzois. If you have heard of Basenjis, but not of Keeshonds or Borzois, I’m not surprised—on Petfinder there are 15 times as many Basenji mixes as there are Keeshond or Borzoi mixes,” according to our Co-founder and CSO Adam Boyko.

Boyko also wonders, “Are Basenjis hooking up with other breeds far more often than anyone realized to create this flood of Basenji mixes?”

Boyko owns his own “Terrier-Basenji” mix named Penny! Surprise…no Basenji. In fact, Basenji mixes are exceedingly rare in the Embark database, but that still doesn’t reduce the frequency with which people think they have a bona fide Basenji mix!

Health & aging

Do you know your pup’s birthday? Never miss a celebration with your four-legged friend! And keep in mind that you’ll need to care for him or her differently as your pup ages.

The Basenji has an average lifespan of 14 to 17 years.

An Embark Dog DNA Test looks at the following health conditions in Basenjis:

We hope that this guide helps you with your Basenji and that you remain happy together for years to come! However, we also know that the only bad part of having a pup means you have to lose them. If you are grieving and in need of a resource, click here for a relevant blog post

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