Temperament of a Basenji Dog: What Dog Lovers Should Know

There’s a lot that someone should take the time to learn about the Basenji dog breed before considering adoption. Families who are thinking they may want to adopt a Basenji dog should definitely want to learn about their temperament if nothing else.

A dog’s temperament is one of the main defining factors, on whether they will be a good fit for you and your family. Take a moment to learn a little more about this breed here, before beginning your basenji adoption process. 

Breed History

Before learning about the Basenji temperament, you might be interested in learning about their interesting background fist. They are an ancient breed after all. The presence of this breed has been noted in Africa and Egypt. They were used as hunting dogs for the tribe in these early civilizations. It wasn’t until the 1940’s that the Basenji made its way to the United States. That was when the first one was brought to America from Egypt, as a “gift from the pharaohs of the Nile.”

The Basenji is Very Affectionate 

The Basenji dog can be a very affectionate breed of dog once they become familiar and comfortable with you and your family. The Basenji dog only craves the love and affections of their humans, just as much as they want to give affection to them. They aren’t a breed that trusts very easily. Which means, even when they’ve become comfortable with you and your family, introducing them to strangers might be a difficult task.

In order to avoid aversion or aggression to strangers with your Basenji dog, early socialization is important. If you’re lucky enough to adopt your Basenji while they are still a young pup, you may have even better success with early socialization. 

As affectionate as this breed can be with their humans, they aren’t the biggest fans of other dogs. This can be dealt with with early socialization. At least with most other dog breeds. Basenjis are known to have trouble getting along with other Basenji dogs if they happen to run into one. 

Basenji is Incredibly Intelligent

The Basenji is a very smart breed of dog but has an independent personality. Meaning, they may be difficult to train if they choose that they don’t want to be particularly obedient. The Basenji can also be manipulative at times. They’re too smart for their own good and will quickly learn how to get exactly what they want from you. 

Some people have given the Basenji the title of “having the affection of a dog, and temperament of a cat.” Their stubborn independence can be a hinderance on training. But dog lovers who are experienced with training dogs will likely have success with training their Basenji. Otherwise, taking your Basenji dog to a dog training class would be a great alternative. A training class would also provide the benefit of socialization with other dogs and people.

Energetic and Curious

Your Basenji will have you chasing your own tail with their endless amounts of energy. You will want to make it a point to allow your Basenji to get plenty of daily exercise. Otherwise, they will have trouble settling down for the night, or even remaining calm while in doors.

Your Basenji’s temperament includes a curious side that, when paired with their energetic nature can really get them in some trouble at times. Although, it can make them an excellent travel and adventure companion. With a good and healthy lifespan of 10 to 12 years, your Basenji dog will keep you and your family active and on your toes for many years to come.

Bored Easily

Because of their curious and energetic nature, the Basenji can become bored pretty easily. Training is important for exactly this reason. Their boredom can lead to mischievous and potentially destructive behaviors. Training a Basenji takes a great deal with patience as well as persistence. Your Basenji will give you a run for their money, between their intelligence, energy, and curiosity. If you have to leave your Basenji for an extended period of time, you will want to leave them with plenty of toys and activities to keep them entertained and active. 

They are Avid Yodelers

The Basenji has been nicknamed the “barkless dog”, due to their inability to vocalize a bark like other breeds of dogs. The breed is born with a genetically misshapen larynx that doesn’t allow for barking. They can, however, “yodel”. For a barkless dog, the basenji yodel makes them a very talkative breed of dog. 


Basenjis are a unique breed that are a perfect fit for dog loving families who have matching amounts of endless energy and patience for a Basenji dog. They need an owner that is prepared to train an intelligent dog that chooses not to be trained at times. You may think that a “barkless dog” would be a quiet one, but they have a distinct yodel and will chat up a storm with their humans. 

What kind of dog is basenji?

The Basenji is a small, light-built dog that’s native to Africa. The thing that makes this breed of dog unique is their inability to bark. This abnormality is due to the unusual shape of their larynx. Because of this the Basenji has adopted the nickname of the “barkless dog”.

Are basenji’s good family dogs?

Basenjis make great family dogs. Basenjis are very affectionate dogs and love their families very much. They are especially good for families who want a quiet breed of dog.

How big do basenjis get?

At shoulder height, Basenjis can grow to be around 17 inches tall and 24 pounds in weight. Female Basenjis are usually slightly smaller in build.

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Written by Petsmont Editors

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