Breed Spotlight: Basenji

Four Minutes
Sep 28, 2022

Basenji Quick Stats


13 – 14 years


22 – 24 lbs


16 – 17 inches




Intelligent, energetic, curious, catlike

Common Health Problems:

IPSID, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia, Fanconi syndrome

Basenji: How Do I Look?

The basenji is a sleek, graceful dog with an intelligent face and a short, shiny coat.3 Their fur almost always features white along with colors ranging from black to red.

Coat Type and Colors

Basenji dogs have short smooth fur with fine hairs. Their feet, chest, and tail-tip are almost always white. Common colorations include:3

  • Black and white
  • Black, tan, and white
  • Cream and white
  • Brindle (black stripes on chestnut) and white
  • Black, brindle, and white
  • Red and white
  • Sable and white
  • Blue cream and white
  • Mahogany tan and white


Basenji ears are small and slightly hooded. They usually stand upright on the top of the skull. Nevertheless, it’s important to keep your dog’s ears clean to avoid infection.

Shedding and Grooming

Your basenji will shed very little, but they still require grooming. Weekly brushing with soft bristles will help distribute oils to keep their fur bright and healthy.3

Drooling Level

A fastidiously neat pup, the basenji rarely drools, if ever.

Basenji Temperament: Personality Traits

What My Adoption Bio Would Say:

I’m a singular pup looking for a singular home. Smart and sweet in equal measure, sometimes my curiosity can get the best of me. All I really need is a loving family that can keep up with my boundless spirit. My favorite activities include running, grooming, and yodeling.


Basenji behavior is often described as catlike, and for good reason. Beyond their hygiene, Basenjis display intelligence, curiosity, and agility that is typically reserved for the feline contingent. They enjoy being affectionate with their family, but also tend to possess an independent streak — another mark of the cat’s paw upon them.

Exercise Needs

Basenjis have a lot of energy. They need regular exercise and long play sessions to avoid boredom, which can lead to destructive behavior. Bred to be a hunting dog, the basenji will especially benefit from structured activities and canine sports with their favorite human.

Are Basenjis Good with Other Pets?

Basenjis love to play and are generally sociable with other dogs. You may find they lose interest in companions who can’t keep up with them.


Given their intelligence, basenjis take to training very well. As long as they’re given enough mental stimulation, encouragement, and rewards, you can expect your basenji to be a fast learner. It’s a good thing, too — a talent for mischief makes early training especially important.

Are Basenjis Good with Kids?

It’s always important to supervise your dog when around young children. The basenji will be affectionate with their own family, including kids. Due to their small size, however, they may not be suited for children younger than six.

Barking Level

The basenji bark doesn’t actually sound like a bark at all. Instead they make a sound similar to a yodel, but overall they rarely vocalize.

The Basenji: A History

Basenjis are a rare breed indeed. They were first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1944, but their population remains small in the United States.4 Yet in some ways the basenji has always been with us. Their ancestry goes all the way back to prehistory, appearing on art and artifacts from ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Babylon.4 It’s likely the earliest domesticated dogs emerged in Africa from the basenji’s semi-feral ancestor. They became popular in the Democratic Republic of Congo as adept hunting dogs and loyal companions. It wasn’t until the 1930s that they were given the name “basenji,” meaning “dog of the bush.”5

Common Basenji Mixes

  • Chisenji: A basenji/Chihuahua mix
  • Pitsenji: A basenji/pitbull mix
  • Labrasenji: A basenji/Labrador mix
  • Corsengi: A corgi/basenji mix

4 Common Basenji Health Issues

Basenjis are generally a healthy breed, but may still experience health issues including:

Protect your Pets

Even the healthiest of pups can come with unexpected vet costs. Pet insurance can help keep your dog and your bank account happy.

How Pet Insurance Can Help Basenjis

When it comes to keeping your basenji healthy and safe, preparation is key. We can never anticipate everything that life will throw at us, but a dog insurance policy means you have preparation in place. By obtaining insurance while your basenji is young, you could be reimbursed for the cost of unexpected health emergencies without needing to worry about exclusions.2

Offsetting the cost of diagnosis and treatment is especially important for your basenji. As a breed genetically prone to conditions like IPSID, you could end up having to pay a considerable amount for fluids therapy, special dietary foods, medication, and anti-stress medication to avoid aggravating their IPSID.7 With pet insurance, you won’t have to choose between your bank account and your dog’s health.2 Learn more about how MetLife Pet Insurance can help by obtaining a free quote today.1

Protect your Basenji with Pet Insurance

Enroll in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal, or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2 Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Basenji Dog Breed Information,” American Kennel Club

4 “Basenji: Dog Breed Characteristics & Care,” The Spruce Pets

5 “Basenji Dog Breed – Facts and Personality Traits,” Hill’s Pet

6 “Basenji Health Information,” BCOA [PDF]

7 “Immunoproliferative Enteropathy in Dogs,” Wag Walking

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