This small to medium-sized dog has a distinctive tightly curled tail and wrinkled forehead. The smooth, short, glossy coat of the Basenji comes in red and white; black and white; black tan and white; brindle; brindle and white; and tricolour. For full details, see the breed standard. The ideal height for adult dogs is 43cm at the withers (from the foot to the highest point of the shoulder) and 40cm for females. When fully grown, the ideal weight for dogs is 11kg, and for females 9.5kg.

I've looked after dogs before, so I have some experience
I'm happy with breeds that may need some training
I'd like to go on active walks with my dog
For an hour a day
A medium size dog works for me
Dog drool? As little as possible, please!
I can groom my dog once a week
I prefer quiet dogs that only bark from time to time


The Basenji dog breed was probably bred to be companion dogs for the Pharaohs and there are portraits of Basenjis in the Egyptian pyramids. With time the breed moved down to Central Africa where it was used to kill the long-toothed and reed rats in the Congo region. These large, vicious rats were a real threat to the native people's livestock and a good hunting dog was essential for survival. The breed wasn't known to the western world until the time of the Victorians when early African explorers remarked on a 'barkless dog'.


These dogs are unique in the fact that they do not bark – but they do yodel when excited! Alert, independent, intelligent, self-grooming and virtually odourless, the Basenji breed is very cat-like and have even been known to climb trees and fences! Affectionate to their loved ones, they tend to be aloof with strangers. Basenjis tend to argue with other dogs, so early socialisation is imperative.


The most widely recognised inherited conditions in the Basenji are a type of kidney disease (Fanconi Syndrome) and a form of anaemia. Genetic tests are available for both of these. Like many breeds hereditary eye disorders can also occur. Eye testing and genetic testing of dogs prior to breeding is therefore important.


Bred to hunt in rough terrain, the Basenji needs at least an hour's exercise daily, and has the stamina for more if you can offer it. While not easy to train, getting the Basenji involved in some sort of dog sport to keep his mind and body healthy could be beneficial. They have less road sense than other breeds, so extra care must be taken if they are exercised near traffic.


Small dogs have a fast metabolism, meaning they burn energy at a high rate, although their small stomachs mean that they must eat little and often. Small-breed foods are specifically designed with appropriate levels of key nutrients and smaller kibble sizes to suit smaller mouths. This also encourages chewing and improves digestion.


The Basenji does most of his own grooming and upkeep. The coat is short, sleek and fine, and can be wiped down with a glove once a week to remove loose hairs. Ears and nails can be checked periodically. Otherwise, little else needs to be done.

Best Dog Breeds for Children

While many dogs are traditionally thought of as being good with children , all dogs and children need to be taught to get on with and respect each other, and be safe together. Even so, dogs and young children should never be left alone together and adults should supervise all interactions between them.

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With roots in the time of the Pharaohs, a distinctive curly tail and a lack of 'bark', Basenji are truly unique dogs. Learn more about them with Purina.

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Is this the right dog breed for you?

All dogs have their own, unique personality, but some instincts and behaviours they’re born with. Try our breed selector and find out which dog breeds better match your preferences and lifestyle. If you and your dog enjoy similar things, you will be more likely to live a happy, fulfilling life together.


What to Consider next


It is incredibly fulfilling to adopt a dog from an animal shelter or rescue organization. It often means offering them a second chance in life. There are many dogs waiting for a loving family, a forever home. Reputable centers will be very careful about matching the right people with the right dogs. Staff learns all they can about the dogs they take in, and will spend time getting to know you, your family and your lifestyle, before they match you with any of their dogs. They’ll also be happy to give you advice and answer any questions you might have before and after the adoption.

Finding a good breeder

If your heart is set on a pedigree puppy, then your best bet is to find a reputable breeder. Contact The Kennel Club or a breed-club secretary who may have a list of litters available, or should be able to put you in contact with breeders in your area. Try to choose a breeder who is part of the Kennel Club’s assured breeder scheme.Visit dog shows to meet breeders in person and inquire about availability of pups of your chosen breed.

Welcoming your dog home

Whether you’re bringing home a tiny puppy or rehoming an adult dog, this is a hugely exciting time for everyone. While you’re waiting for the big day you might need to distract yourself, so luckily there are a few things you need to sort out before you welcome your new arrival. Click here for more information