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The Basenji is one of the first dogs mentioned in recorded history. These small guys are quiet and can not physically bark. Many of their characteristics can be considered cat-like. Basenjis can make great companions with strong training and patience.

Illustration courtesy of the Swedish Kennel Club

Quick Facts


Male: 16-17in

Female: 15-16in


Male: 22-26lb

Female: 20-24lb

Fun Fact

Basenjis yodel because the unique shape of their larynx prevents them from barking.

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Basenjis at a glance

The Basenji dog breed is widely known as the first dog — these little guys can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt. They have many unique qualities that separate them from the pack. The Basenji is very independent and requires a lot of patience when training. This is not a dog to trust off-leash. They are very quiet fellows that will yodel instead of bark. Basenjis require little grooming due to their short coat and to the fact that they clean themselves like cats. While Basenjis make great apartment dogs, they still require a lot of exercise to prevent boredom. These dogs may require more training and patience than other breeds, but owners will tell you that these pups make fantastic household additions.

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. Plus, at the bottom of this article, you’ll find a list of genetic health risks Embark tests for that are relevant to this breed.

embark basenji guide


About Basenjis

Basenjis have been around for thousands of years. In fact, they might be the world’s oldest dog breed and did not come to the West until the 1900s.They are independent, smart, and poised, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC). The AKC calls Basenji 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.

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.




Basenjis self-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.


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.    



“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! 

Mixed breed Basenjis


There are several varieties of mixed breed Basenjis. 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 Embark’s 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 and 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.

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

Do you own a Basenji or do you think your dog might be part Basenji? Learn more about your dog with Embark’s Dog DNA Tests, the most accurate on the market.

Basenjis on Embark

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Common Locations

  1. Texas, United States
  2. Virginia, United States
  3. California, United States
  4. Florida, United States
  5. Nederland
  6. Ohio, United States
  7. Oregon, United States
  8. Washington, United States
  9. Maryland, United States
  10. Idaho, United States

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