Basenji Dog Temperament und Breed description

The Basenji (canis lupus familiaris), also known as Congo Terrier, originates in Central Africa and is considered to be the oldest dog in the world. They belong to the group of the so-called Pariahounds, which are an original breed of dog that live in close proximity to humans, but without relying on them to be fed or cared for and therefore there is also doesn't exist a direct breeding selection. In this arrangement the Basenji used to live in former times and still does today together with the African natives and helps them with hunting. Since 1930, the breed has been systematically bred.

The FCI (the world's largest cynological umbrella organisation) recognises the Basenji as an independent breed. The dogs are registered under the FCI group 5 (point and primitive type dogs), section 6 (primitive type), standard no. 43, without working test.

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Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Dog breed,Canidae,Carnivore,Basenji,Ibizan hound,Hunting dog,Carolina dog, Basenji with tiger coloring, tiger pattern in dogs, dog that is brown white tabby and has prick ears black and white Basenji with prick ears near a forest, two Basenji dogs that look special, dog that is medium sized and has prick ears and short coat Basenji dog brown white and puppy in brown white, dog with big standing ears sits on green meadow
Alternate Name Kongo Terrier, Basenji
Origin Democratic Republic of the Congo
Life expectancy 12 - 15 years
Care requirements low-maintenance
Activity level average
FCI group Primitive type
AKC group Hound Group
KC group Hound Group

Breed description and nature of the Congo Terrier

Sabenjis are self-confident, independent and intelligent dogs. They are extremely clean, almost odourless, hardly shed any hair and are therefore also very suitable for allergy sufferers. The dogs learn quickly, adapt well to their family environment, but need constant attention. Additionally they need plenty of space to move, exercise and they need to be mentally stimulated. Some also tend to stray. The dogs should therefore not be left running around freely without supervision. Their innate, strongly developed hunting instinct can lead to them running after anything that moves. Unfortunately this is no different with cars or trams. Therefore, it is better to keep them on a leash, especially next to the street. It is advisable to use an extendable leash.

Attitude and training

Basenjis are not suitable dogs for first-time owners. It is difficult to train these naturally reserved, independent dogs. These stubborn dogs can drive inexperienced dog owners to despair since they are they love to fo their own way and always do what they want. Only with a lot of experience and patience you will sucessfully manage to teach them basis commands. These dogs cannot be trained. But with good leadership, without treating them too harshly and a lot of empathy for your dog's needs, they will usually show obedience. Inappropriate strictness and harshness leads to disobedience and retreat. However, if you meet them with sufficient empathy, the dogs evolve into affectionate and playful family members. They are pack animals by nature and don't like to be left alone for too long. It is therefore advisable to keep them together with other dogs. 

small brown white Basenji puppy sitting on the shoulder of the owner and getting a kiss, dog kiss, dog with standing ears, dog that looks similar to Chihuahua, only bigger, puppy of a Basenji dog
Democratic Republic of the Congo

Care and nutrition

The extremely clean dogs hardly require grooming. Basenjis clean and groom themselves and each other very intensively. For this they also use their paws. In this characteristic they resemble cats. However, when the coat changes, once a year before the beginning of summertime, it should be brushed regularly. For feeding, a high-quality wet or dry food with a high meat content, without cereals, should be used. As the breed is an efficient food-converter and tends to be overweight, the portions should be rationed while keeping an eye on their weight. Dried chewing treats such as dried cow skin are well suited since they don't support weight gain and also clean their teeth. Sufficient drinking water should always be within reach for them.

Typical diseases of Basenjis

Because of the small gene pool when official breeding started, the Basenji also has some dispositions for certain hereditary diseases:

  • Fanconi syndrome: kidney dysfunction.
  • Hemolytic dysplasia: progressive decay of red blood cells (erythrocytes).
  • Hip dysplasia (HD: maldevelopment of the hip joint).
  • Persistent pupilar membrane: thread-like remains of the fetal pupil remain in the dog's inner eye and can cause visual disturbances.
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy: Slowly progressing deterioration of the retina.

In any case, regular eye examinations, x-rays for HD and a genetic test for Fanconi syndrome should be performed.

Things to know about Basenjis

The breed has some peculiarities that should be known to the owner. For example, Basenjis have an innate fear of the dark. In their original home Africa darkness meant danger. Their lack of body odour is also for their self-protection. Those who cannot be smelled will also not get noticed. In our latitudes, however, this characteristic, which is quite useful in Africa, sometimes leads to the Basenji being attacked by foreign dogs, as they cannot smell the Basenji. The dogs do not bark either, they make themselves noticeable with a yodel-like sound. In the USA and Europe these unusual dogs are becoming increasingly popular. To buy a Basenji, you should contact the Verband für das Deutsche Hundewesen (VDH). There you can find addresses of reputable breeders.

Dog,Mammal,Vertebrate,Canidae,Dog breed,Carnivore,Ibizan hound,Podenco canario,Basenji,Snout,

The Basenji is a medium-sized dog that has a light-boned physique. The short dense coat of the dogs is fine and shiny.

The coat colours vary from

  • pure black and white to
  • red-brown or
  • white,
  • black,
  • tan or
  • white with markings above the eyes.
  • There are also brindled specimens with black stripes on a red-brown base colour.

The dogs have a white area that reaches from the neck to the chest. The curled tail always has a white tip at the end. Characteristic for the breed are their fine wrinkles, which can be found on the forehead and partly also on the sides of the dog's head. They can best be seen when the dogs have their ears stood up. The diagonally set dark brown eyes are almond-shaped. The males reach a withers height of 43 cm and a weight of 11 kg. The bitches are somewhat smaller with a height of 40 cm measured at the withers and with a body weight of 9.5 kg they are also somewhat lighter. The life expectancy of the dogs is 12-17 years. In individual cases also more.

Fur length short
Fur flat coated
Ear shape Standing Ears
Tail rolled up
Anatomy muscular, sporty
Size ♀ 38 - 41 cm
Weight ♀ 9 - 11 kg
Size ♂ 41 - 43 cm
Weight ♂ 10 - 12 kg
Suitable For suitable for allergy sufferers


black and white Basenji with prick ears near a forest, two Basenji dogs that look special, dog that is medium sized and has prick ears and short coat
Basenji dog brown white and puppy in brown white, dog with big standing ears sits on green meadow
small brown white Basenji puppy sitting on the shoulder of the owner and getting a kiss, dog kiss, dog with standing ears, dog that looks similar to Chihuahua, only bigger, puppy of a Basenji dog
  • Kidney disease

    Symptoms of kidney disease in dogs: increased urination (polyuria) increased water intake. Inflammation of the mucous membrane of the mouth. Loss of appetite

  • Eye infections

    Chronic eye infections can be very painful in dogs and can be treated with medication. In rare cases, the cornea must be treated.

Sources and relevant links


Accessed on 08.03.2023

FCI Rassestandard

Accessed on 08.03.2023

Journal of the Royal African Society

Accessed on 08.03.2023

Accessed on 08.03.2023

Dr. Ross Clark DVM (2014). Medical, Genetic & Behavioral Risk Factors of Basenjis. Xlibris Corporation.

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