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Congo Terrier Breed Description

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Breed Organization

Basenji Club of America, Inc.

Native Country
Africa (Congo). Sponsored by Great Britain

Other Names
Basenji, Congo Dog

Life Expectancy
Approximately 10-12 Years

Litter Size
Average 4-6 Puppies

Breed Group

General Description

The African Barkless Dog is a well-defined breed created by nature many years ago. The Basenji has associated with man since long before the building of the pyramids. This fascinating hound is still used as a hunting dog by people in Africa to this day.

Basenjis are small, elegant-looking, short-haired dogs with erect ears, a tightly curled tail and a graceful neck. A basenji's forehead is wrinkled, especially when the animal is young or extremely old. Basenji eyes are typically almond-shaped, which gives the dog the appearance of squinting seriously.

Dogs typically weigh 24 pounds (11 kg) and stand 16 inches (40.6 cm) at the withers. They are typically a square breed, which means that they are as long as they are tall. The basenji is an athletic dog and is deceptively powerful for its size. They have a graceful, confident gait like a trotting horse, and skim the ground in a double-suspension gallop, with their characteristic curled tail straightened out for greater balance, when running flat-out at their top speed.

The Basenji is recognized in the following standard colorations: red, black, tricolor (black with tan in the traditional pattern), and brindle (black stripes on a background of red), all with white, by the FCI, KC, AKC, and UKC. There are additional variations, such as the "trindle", which is a tricolor with brindle points and rarely happens, and several other colorations exist in the Congo such as liver, shaded reds and sables, and "capped tricolors" (creeping tan).

Breed Standard

Head: Flat and well chiseled. Slight stop. Fine wrinkles on the forehead. Strong jaws.
Ears: Small, pointed, and slightly hooded. Thin leather. Carried erect.
Eyes: Almond shape, set obliquely in the skull. Dark color.
Body: Balanced proportions. Strong, well arched neck. Chest is well let down. Ribs moderately sprung. Definite waist.
Tail: Set high. Carried tightly curled against the croup.
Hair: Short, shiny, dense, very fine.
Coat: Pure black and white, red and white, black and tan and white with tan markings above the eyes and tan muzzle, fawn and white. White on the feet, forechest, and tip of the tail.
Size: Dog: 43 cm (ideal).Bitch: 40 cm (ideal).
Weight: Dog: 11 kg (ideal).Bitch: 9.5 kg (ideal).


Originating in the Congo, the Basenji is one of the oldest breeds in the world. It was named after a native pygmy tribe whose name meant (bushman) The Basenji's ancestors, the Tesem and the Egyptian Hound, were depicted on the tombstones of the Pharaohs. Its body looks like a miniature version of its cousin, the Ibizan Hound. In Africa, the Basenji is used as a bush or forest guide, for hunting small game, and to guard villages. The breed was imported to Great Britain around 1930 and to the United States around 1940. The Basenji is now very popular in the USA. It was introduced in France in 1966 and has become increasingly popular since 1991 when the Basenji Club was formed.


This sturdy, lively, independent, stable dog has a strong personality. He is an affectionate, playful pet and is good with children. The Basenji is aloof with strangers. Blessed with an excellent sense of smell, the Basenji is used as a scenthound. Like cats, he likes high perches. This breed does not bark. Instead, it "yodels" when happy. Firm but gentle, loving training is required.


Hunting dog (small game), Utility Dog: Bush Guide, Guard Dog, Pet.


This breed is prone to Fanconi's syndrome (kidney problems), which must be treated the moment the symptoms are noticed. Also, it is susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy, intestinal and eye problems.

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