Group: Hound Group

Origin: Central Africa


    – Males: 17 inches;
    – Females: 16 inches


    – Males: 24 lbs;
    – Females: 22 lbs
Lucy in her snow coat
Ellicott City, MD
Photo: William Spicer,

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Breed Profile

The Basenji, commonly known as the “Barkless Dog”, is a small athletic dog with many unusual traits. He is short-haired with a wrinkled forehead. His coat is smooth, fine, shiny and comes in chestnut red, pure black, tri-colour (pure black and chestnut red), and brindle (black stripes on a chestnut red background). His feet, tail point, and chest are white. The Basenji’s ears are erect and opened to the front. The Basenji proudly carries his head high and possesses a look of dignity. The gait of the Basenji is distinctive, resembling a horse trotting as he moves with elegance, ease and agility.

With his keen eyesight and remarkable scenting ability, the Basenji hunts using both sight and scent. He is a high energy dog who enjoys such activities as lure coursing, tracking, conformation, obedience, and agility.

One of the oldest breeds, the Basenji appeared on ancient Egyptian engravings dating back to 3600 BC. He was preserved in his native land of Central Africa where he was highly regarded for his intelligence, courage, speed, keen scenting ability, and silence. He does not bark but instead makes yodelling sounds. He is somewhat cat-like in his mannerisms, in so much as he is frisky, agile, and cleans himself like a cat does. The Basenji is an intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. He is known to be aloof and cautious with strangers, calm and gentle with friends, and loving with children.

Health Issues

Some of the health problems seen in the Basenji breed include: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Hypothyroidism, and Fanconi Syndrome which is a kidney disease that strikes the middle-aged dog and is often fatal; however with new treatments many dogs are able to survive. Another health concern for the Basenji is Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency in Basenjis, this is an inherited lack of the PK enzyme in the red blood cells of an affected dog. Dogs affected with PK deficiency leads to lifelong anemia. DNA-based testing is available through VetGen.

The average life expectancy for the Basenji is 10 to 13 years.

If you are considering the adoption of a Basenji, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy’s parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the General Information page.)

Recommended Health Screening:

For the Basenji, the CHICNote 1 database includes health screenings for the following:

  • Hip Dysplasia;
  • Autoimmune Thyroiditis;
  • Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist anually until the age of 6 and thereafter, every two years;
  • Fanconi Syndrome.

Additional Health Resources:


Grooming Information

  • Grooming — This section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.


Training Resources

The Basenji is known to be a very intelligent but stubborn breed, who learns quickly through positive reinforcement. Puppy classes and basic obedience are strongly recommended.

  • Training — For training information, see this growing section of the Canada’s Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.


Additional Information


*NOTE 1: CHIC – The Canine Health Information Center “is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and the American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.” To learn more, visit:

*NOTE 2: The Fédération Cynologique International (FCI) is the World Canine Organization, which includes 91 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 344 breeds, with each being the “property” of a specific country. The “owner” countries write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.

Breed Listing

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