Akmar specialising in R / W Basenjis since 1996

UK Top Basenji 1999 & 2014 & UK Top Breeder 2003,2004 & 2005.

Thinking of Owning a Basenji?

Thinking about purchasing a Basenji? Then read our breed profile including a brief description, information on height, weight, colour, coat, temperament, grooming, activity and history. Purchasing a new puppy is a commitment that may last ten or more years so please educate you on the Basenji breed, including all stages of their life from puppy hood to older dog.

Ask yourself will I be a good owner? Do I have the time it takes to train a new puppy? Do I have the resources to give my new dog a rewarding life? Do I have a local veterinarian that I can take my new dog to? Do I have a groomer or can I do the grooming myself on a regular basis.

Fundamental requirements for a being a good Basenji owner;

  • properly feed your new dog,  
  • house them comfortably  
  • train them in basic obedience 

Before making a purchase talk to the breeder, ask those many questions about their dogs and the breed in general. A good breeder will teach you about the Basenji and they will have many questions for you about your home and life style and if this breed is suited for you and your family.

Questions you may want to ask a Basenji Breeder: 

  • When were your Basenjis born? When will they be allowed to leave? 
  •  Have your puppies received their first shots? being wormed? had a puppy check up with your veterinarian?

    What type of socialization have the puppies received? with children? with other pets? in the home?  

  • Have you seen genetic problems in previous litters? What are your health guarantees?
  • Are there any health certifications on the sire or dam?

  • What is the temperament of the puppies, of the mother? shy? boisterous? aggressive? skittish?  
  • If you become unable to care for your new Basenji, will the breeder help you find a new home?  

It is recommended that you sign a contract with the breeder so that there will be no misunderstandings on the arrangements made. Then bring home your new Basenji and enjoy as "there is no greater love then a dog's devotion."

Basenji Breed Profile

The Basenji is a handsome, short, muscular dog who is also known as the African Barkless Dog. "Basenji" means "bush thing" in African dialect. They should not bark, but they are not mute. Basenji’s repertoire of sounds range from a pleasing throaty crow to a keening wail made when they are lonely or unhappy. Basenjis are often compared to small deer because of their grace, intelligence and beauty. They are about the size of a Fox Hound, and very proud. One of the oldest breeds of dogs, they are native to Africa where they are used to assist beaters in flushing game out, which are then driven into nets strung up against trees. These dogs were highly prized in Central Africa for their intelligence, silence, speed and hunting power. The Basenji has a short, fine coat that tends to become more course in colder countries, but without losing its gleam. Wrinkled on the forehead, they also have a curly tail that swirls to one side of their body. Known to be much like cats, Basenjis will sometimes clean themselves by licking all over, and are said to be nearly odourless. Basenjis will make good pets as long as they are handled on a regular basis from an early age.

Type: Sight hound and Pariah

Height: Females: 16 inches; Males 17 inches.

Weight: Females: 21 lbs.; Males: 24 lbs.

Colours: Black, red, black and tan. There is always white on the chest, feet and tail tips.

Coat: Smooth, short-haired, fine, silky coat. Coarser coat in colder countries.

Temperament: Basenjis are intelligent, independent, affectionate but alert. Basenjis are playful, inquisitive, and active. Sometimes aloof with strangers.

With Children: Yes, if properly socialized and supervised.

With Pets: Yes, if properly socialized and supervised; same sex aggression is common.

Special Skills: Does not bark, flushes out prey for hunters, and is very intelligent in which training comes easy.

Recommended reading

Basenji, Juliette Cuncliffe, Interpet Publishing, ISBN 1-903098-97-1

The Complete Basenji, Elspet Ford, Interpet Publishing, ISBN 0-948955-97-X

Basenji Care and Training

Comb or brush the Basenjis smooth coat and bathe when necessary. Daily exercise will prevent obesity. House training comes easily as they are naturally clean creatures. Basenjis clean themselves like cats, and have virtually no doggy odour.

Grooming your puppy/dog

All dogs will benefit from regular grooming, whether they are a short haired breed or one with a long or fluffy coat.

Reasons for grooming – Remember ‘CHAIR’

Cleanliness – keeping your dog’s coat clean by removing dirt and dead hair helps encourage new hair growth, and reduces the amount of hair deposited on household furniture

Health – grooming helps to stimulate new coat growth, and prevents the formation of knots or matting which may lead to skin irritation

Appearance – most owners take a pride in their dogs looking smart, and regular grooming will certainly help your puppy to look its best

Inspection – regular grooming is also a great way to check for parasites, or any suspicious lumps and bumps

Relationship – grooming is part of dog’s socialisation activities. Regular grooming helps create a bond between you and your puppy, and accustoms your puppy to being handled.

Getting started

It is important to groom your puppy at a height which is comfortable for both you and your dog. For many dogs it may be advisable to groom them on a table. There are custom made grooming tables available, which might be a good investment if you have taken on a puppy that requires a lot of grooming. But any sturdy table or work bench with a non-slip surface will suffice. Remember: never leave your puppy unattended on the table for even a short moment.

Start the grooming experience at an early age as part of your puppy’s socialisation programme and routines. Keep the sessions short to start off with – just a couple of minutes, gradually increasing the time spent on the table. Always make the experience positive, rewarding with praise and suitable treats. Any struggling should be dealt with firmly but kindly, as your puppy may be frustrated, mischievous or even afraid.

Build up the experience and your puppy will come to accept the grooming routine and also being handled on the table. This will help with other activities such as veterinary visits.

Finish the grooming if your puppy shows signs of getting bored or tired, so that each session ends on a positive note.

Dog coat types

It’s worth bearing in mind that factors like neutering, age, poor diet and poor health can dramatically influence your dog’s coat.

A Basenji has a Smooth Coat – short and tight to the body. Very low maintenance. Grooming achieved by removing the dead coat to leave a glossy finish Approximately 10 minutes once a week to prevent heavy shedding using the following types of grooming tool: Massage mitt, Bristle brush and Cloth

Care of ears, nails and eyes


• Check your puppy’s ears to see if they are clean. You can remove excess dirt from the inside of the ear flap with damp cotton wool. Never probe inside the ear as you may perforate the ear drum. Any odour is usually a sign there is something wrong and your puppy should be taken to a vet.

• If nails are excessively long remove the tip of the claw, taking care not to cut the quick or blood vessel. Although I recommend that you file your puppies nails once a week.


  • Teeth should also be cleaned once a week with a soft tooth brush and doggie tooth paste. Practice this from the time you first get your puppy home. It should only take 2 minutes per week.

• If needed clean the eyes with clean, damp cotton wool using a separate piece for each eye.


External Parasites

A parasite is something that lives on another animal (the host) and gets its nourishment from the host. If left unchecked, the parasite causes disease or even death. The most common external parasites found on dogs are fleas and ticks.

• Fleas are very small, brownish black, extremely agile creatures. Excessive scratching and self-biting can be symptoms of flea infestation. Even if no fleas are to be seen the presence of shiny black specks like coal dust (flea excreta) is a sure indication of the presence of fleas (dab the specks with a damp piece of cotton wool and if it goes pink it confirms the presence of fleas; these are the remains of a digested blood meal from the host).

• Ticks are largish grey pea shaped parasites that can be 3 to 4mm in length. They attach themselves to other animals in order to have a blood meal.

There is evidence that ticks are also a threat to human health as they can spread Lyme disease.

There is now a wide range of proprietary powders, sprays, ‘spot-on’ treatments and anti-flea and tick collars available. A dedicated pet care professional will be happy to advice on suitable products.

Other skin problems

• Ringworm is a fungal disease, affecting the skin, nails and hair. Circular lesions appear causing hair loss, which become scaly and crusty. Ringworm is contagious and is a zoonotic condition (transmissible to humans).

• Dermatitis causes irritation, hair loss and inflammation and is a result of sensitivity to the environment.

• Alopecia can range from a thinning of hair to total hair loss and can be caused by a number of factors such as skin parasites, hormonal imbalance, infections, stress or poor nutrition. Seek veterinary advice for any skin problems.









Small beginnings

Puppies need much less exercise than fully-grown dogs. If you over-exercise a growing puppy, you can quickly overtire it, and more importantly damage its developing joints, which may cause early arthritis. A good rule of thumb is a ratio of five minutes exercise per month of age (up to twice a day), until the puppy is fully grown, i.e. 15 minutes when three months old, 20 minutes when four months old etc. Once it is fully grown, your dog can go out for much longer.


It is important that puppies and dogs go out for exercise every day in a safe and secure area, or they may become frustrated. Time spent in the garden (however large) is no substitute for exploring new environments, and socialising with other dogs. When you go out, make sure your puppy is trained to recall, so that you are confident the puppy will return to you when called. As soon as your puppy has cleared their injections get them out and start training off the lead in a safe environment. Use treats or toys as a rewards EVERY time your puppy returns to you.


You should never exercise your puppy on a full stomach as this may contribute to bloat or stomach dilation which can sometimes prove fatal.


All dogs require regular exercise to remain fit and prevent them from becoming overweight, which may also lead to health problems. You should remember however, that exercise needs to be introduced gradually, and that a young puppy will not have the same exercise requirement as an adult dog.

 0-12 weeks. Until a puppy has completed its course of vaccinations, there is a risk of infection. Therefore, it is usually better that exercise is restricted to within the confines of your garden. Exercise in the garden also provides an excellent opportunity to start early training, and to get your puppy used to wearing a collar. Make sure your puppy has a number of safe toys, and always accompany them in the garden. This way, you can engage your puppy in suitable levels of activity, and start to reward good toileting behaviour, which can usually provide all the puppy’s exercise needs during this time. If the opportunity arises, take your puppy to other safe environments where there is no risk, and it is able to mix with other animals and people, such as private gardens where only vaccinated dogs have access. Socialising at an early age is a vital part of your dog’s development. 

  • 3 - 4 months; 15 – 20 minutes per day. Ideally this should be split across two walks, perhaps morning and evening. Lead walking is possibly the most important at this age as it will help train your puppy, but some free running should also be included.


  • 4 months to 6 months; 20 – 30 minutes per day. Ideally, this should again be split across two walks, perhaps morning and evening.



  • 6- 9 months; 30-45 minutes per day. Ideally, try to split exercise across 2 walks of 15 – 20 minutes duration.



  • 9 -12 months; 45 -60 minutes per day ideally split across 2 walks of 20 – 30 minutes duration.
      • 1 year plus. After the age of 12 months a dog is considered an adult and should be capable of walks lasting 30-60 minutes per day.

        The duration and frequency of exercise should remain consistent and any increases should be gradual. A Basenji is very capable of enjoying long walks once he/she is an adult (12 months plus). However as a dog becomes older, exercise should be reduced and your dog should be allowed to walk at its own pack.


Basenjis will sometimes use destruction as amusement when left to themselves, and should be trained carefully not to do so.

They are creative. This trait manifests itself in such actions as escaping, getting into garbage and/or laundry hampers, stealing or destroying your most precious items, and general mischief making. Every Basenji owner can tell you stories about how their Basenji outwitted them on several occasions…and take it in stride with pride.

They chase anything that moves: cars, bikes, children, mice, squirrels, etc. Basenji Lore has it that more Basenjis have died of being hit by cars than by natural death. Because they are sight hounds who need their exercise, a fully fenced and secure backyard, or else a dedicated walker/jogger owner is a must.

The Basenji has never been bred to serve Man. Therefore, they are not your best specimen for obedience instruction. Many Basenjis have been successfully trained to obedience titles, but it is a tremendous challenge. The Basenji is very quick to pick up on basic house manners because most compliment their instincts. With other instructions a Basenji thinks, "What's in it for me?"

The Basenji requires your extra time and attention as a puppy. It is NEVER too early to start puppy kindergarten or obedience class with a Basenji. The first year is critical to impose pack order in your household, and receptiveness to commands. (This is one of the reasons why getting two Basenji puppies is not a good idea, certainly never littermates as you will not be able to captivate the attention of either one of them long enough to train.)

Basenjis should be crate trained, for their own safety and your piece of mind. This is not an easy feat, nor pleasant. You may lose sleep for as long as a month or two at first, but it absolutely worth the effort. The crate trained Basenji is reliable in the house, the best houseguest, welcomed by the breeder, and kennelled without added stress when you are away on vacation. If you purchase a show potential, the breeder may contractually require you to crate train the puppy, so be prepared. As an extreme measure, you may want to invest in earplugs for the entire household. Plan to let your neighbours know that you will be acquiring a puppy, and that while you are crate training them, it is possible that they may hear him/her from time to time. Let them know why it is important to crate train them, and hopefully they will understand and support your efforts.

Especially as puppies, Basenjis can be climbers, diggers or chewers. An assortment of various textures of doggie toys is essential to preserve your furniture, carpet, rugs and laundry through the teething stages and beyond.


Special Needs: Fenced in living environment, an activity or job to do.

Learning Rate: High. Rewards-based training produces best results.

Activity: High

Living Environment: Indoor or outdoor dog that does best with a fenced yard and lots of exercise. Curiosity may cause them to wander if left off leash or in an unfenced area.

Basenji Health Issues: Anaemia, hernias, hip dysplasia, Kidney problems, PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), thyroid problems.

Life Span: 12-14 years

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FCI Basenji Breed Standard

FCI-Standard Nr. 43 (24.01.2000/GB)


Central Africa
Great Britain
Date of Publication of the Original Valid Standard:
Hunting dog, companion

Classification F.C.I.:
Group 5
Spitz and primitive types
Section 6
Primitive type
without working trial


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.
typische Kopfform

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.
Stop: Slight.


Facial Region:
Nose: Black nose desirable.
Jaws/Teeth: 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.
Eyes: Dark, almond-shaped; obliquely set, far-seeing and rather inscrutable in expression.
Ears: 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.
Neck: 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.

Body: Balanced
Back: Short, level.
Loin: Short-coupled.
Chest: Deep brisket. Ribs well sprung, deep and oval.
Underline: Running up into a definite waist.
Tail: 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.

Forequarters: Forelegs straight with fine bone. Legs in a straight line to ground giving a medium front.
Shoulders: Well laid back, muscular, not loaded.
Elbows: Tucked in against brisket. When viewed from front, elbows in line with ribs.
Forearm: Very long.
Pasterns: Good length, straight and flexible.
Hindquarters: Strong and muscular.
Stifle: Moderately bent.
Second thigh: Long.
Hock: Well let down, turned neither in nor out.
Feet: Small, narrow and compact, with deep pads, well arched toes and short nails.
Gait / Movement: Legs carried straight forward with a swift, long, tireless, swinging stride.
Skin: Very pliant.

Hair: Short, sleek and close, very fine.
Colour: 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 and Weight:
Ideal height: dogs: 43 cm (17 ins) at withers
bitches: 40 cm, (16 ins) at withers
Ideal weight:dogs: 11 kg (24 lbs)
bitches: 9 1/2 kg (21 lbs)

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.


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

All illustration were taken from the book"The Basenji Stacked and Moving". Author: Robert Cole, ISBN 0-920939-00-7, approved by the author.




Breed Clubs and Societies

BASENJI CLUB OF GREAT BRITAIN. Sec. Mr S Bell. Tel No: 01832 293422
BASENJI OWNERS & BREEDERS ASSOC. Sec: Miss L Tyler. Tel No: 02392 504321
NORTHERN BASENJI SOCIETY. Hon Sec. Mr L Siddall. Tel No: 01422 844393