Country of origin 
Central Africa/England

Hunting dog, companion

Group 5, Spitz and primitive types

Breed Information

Breed Standard


The Basenji is what most people would call a slightly different dog who also has a bit of cat in it and it is also one of the oldest breeds around. Dogs with almost identical looks with todays Basenji can be found in cave paintings in Tessili-N-Alger, Algeria and these paintings are dated to be approximtaley 12 000 years old. The breed is considered to originate from a Schensi dog type from the Kwango district in former Belgian Congo. Very homogenic groups of these dogs have been found in pygme tribes in former Belgian Congo and also in southern Sudan. In these tribes the Basenji have been used for both hunting, keeping warmth, cleansing and as company for the children. Tribes in Sudan is supposed to value their dogs very high and offer them as special friendship gifts or as bridal gifts.

At the turn of the century the first Basenji came to the West world, but these died very shortly affected by distemper. It wasn't until the 30's a few survived the quarantine and these where also shown at exhibits in England where they had success. The lady who was first to succeed getting a few specimen to survive was called Ms Burn and she brought 5 Basenjis to England in the 30's. Another important person for the Basenji breeding in the West was Veronica Tudor- Williams who also imported several dogs which she later started her famous breeding with. 1951 the first Basenji came to Sweden and they where imported from England. Around ten litters where born during the 50's and 60's and the real breeding didn't get started until the 70's.


The Basenji is the only dog breed that can't bark, but it is still not mute. The Basenji can growl and whine just any other dog. Their vocal cords have a different construction and aren't shaped to bark so instead the Basenji has a specific sound that can be describes as a yodel or a gargle. This sound is often heard when the Basenji is happy, for example when a family member arrives home or if food is nearby. Something that a Basenji really likes is food. Therefore they tend to put on a few extra pounds and a Basenji should most definately not be overweight!

The Basenji is curious, loves freedom and they will easily wander off in the woods if not supervised or on a leash. Sure, there's a number of Basenjis that has been trained and also has competed in obedience, but if you're looking for a dog that will obey you blindly there are other breeds that will suit you better.

The Basenji has very strong pray drive and it takes lots of patience and commitment from the owner to get the dog to understand that hunting is not allowed. If you still wish to let your dog use it's energy on hunting you could try lure-coursing. This is a sort of racing where the dogs chase a fictive hare on a field court.


Noteable for the breed is that they are very cleanly and they don't like to get wet and dirty. If it's raining outdoors mum and dad can take their walk on their own because that is not a waether that a Basenji appreciates! On the other hand the Basenji loves sunshine and will usually be found at the sunniest and wamest spot in the house and if possible the Basenji will go outdoors and enjoy the heat. Very much like a cat the Basenji can often be found on the table looking outside and at night they will find a place under the blankets together with their owners.

The Basenji has a very strong pack feeling and loves to be near its family and prefers if the whole "pack" is gathered. It can be a bit reserved towards strangers and therefore it is very important to get social training already from puppyhood. It needs to get used to both meeting new people and being able to cope with different inviroments.

Foremost the Basenji is a companion dog but also a very attractive show dog. It can be trained in tracking, agility and obedience and it will gladly go along with whatever mum and dad gets about. If you just educate your Basenji the proper way and gives it all the care and comfort it needs you will have a very best friend and companion for appr. 15 years to come. As many Basenji owners say: One a Basenji, always a Basenji!

General appearance
Lightly built, finely boned aristocratic looking animal, high on legs compared with its length, always poised, alert and intelligent. Wrinkled head, with pricked ears, proudly carried on a well arched neck. Deep brisket runs up into a definite waist, tail tightly curled presenting a picture of a well balanced dog of gazelle-like grace.

Important proportion
Distance from top of head to stop slightly more than from stop to tip of nose.

Barkless but not mute, its own special noise a mixture of a chortle and a yodel. Remarkable for its cleanliness in every way. An intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. Can be aloof with strangers.

Fine and profuse wrinkles appearing on forehead when ears pricked; side wrinkles desirable but not exaggerated into dewlap; wrinkles more noticeable in puppies, but because of lack of shadowing, not as noticeable in tricolours.
Cranial region
Skull Flat, well-chiselled and medium width, tapering towards the nose. Side lines of skull taper gradually towards mouth, giving a clean-cheeked appearance.


Facial region
Black nose desirable.

Jaws strong with a perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square in the jaws.

Dark, almond-shaped; obliquely set, far-seeing and rather inscrutable in expression.

Small, pointed, erect and slightly hooded, of fine texture, set well forward on top of head, tip of ear nearer centre of skull than outside base.

Strong and of good length, without thickness, well crested and slightly full at base of throat with a graceful curve accentuating crest. Well set into shoulders giving head a lofty carriage.


Short, level.


Deep brisket. Ribs well sprung, deep and oval.

Running up into a definite waist.

High set, with posterior curve of buttock extending beyond root of tail giving a reachy appearance to hindquarters. Curls tightly over spine and lies closely to thigh with a single or double curl.


Forelegs straight with fine bone. Legs in a straight line to ground giving a medium front.

Well laid back, muscular, not loaded.

Tucked in against brisket. When viewed from front, elbows in line with ribs.

Very long.

Good length, straight and flexible.

Strong and muscular.

Moderately bent.

Second thigh

Well let down, turned neither in nor out.

Small, narrow and compact, with deep pads, well arched toes and short nails.

Legs carried straight forward with a swift, long, tireless, swinging stride.

Very pliant.


Short, sleek and close, very fine.

Pure black and white; red and white; black and tan, and white with melon pips and tan markings on muzzle and cheeks; black; tan and white; brindle : red background with black stripes, the more clearly defined the stripes the better. The white should be on the feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, blaze and white collar optional.

Size & weight
male 43 cm
female 40 cm

male 11 kg
female 9 kg

Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.

Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.

Nota bene
Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.