Scratch Dog or Not – Are Basenjis Hypoallergenic?

Allergies are a big problem in the United States with around 10% of Americans being allergic to pets. If you are one of those that can't be in the vicinity of our furry friends without seeing the world through streaming eyes or wheezing then owning a dog might seem out of the question.


There could however be an option; some breeds are classed as hypoallergenic, meaning they are less likely to trigger a bout of the sneezes than other breeds and the beautiful Basenji is one of these. This non-barking hunting hound originating from the Congo is not for everyone, but could be the perfect canine companion for allergy sufferers.

Is It True, Are Basenji Dogs Hypoallergenic?

The Basenji is fastidious almost cat-like in its grooming regime with no doggy odor and limited dander the breed is classed as hypoallergenic. making it a good choice for allergy sufferers and the house-proud alike.

What does hypoallergenic actually mean?

Before you turn to Google looking for Basenji puppies for sale, it's worth noting that the word hypoallergenic does not mean allergy -free. Reactions can and do occur even with hypoallergenic dogs this is because the definition of the word is; less or reduced chance of causing a reaction.

3 Reasons Why the Basenji is a Choice Breed Among Allergy Sufferers

  • The Basenji breed, like the Poodle and Schnauzer only sheds dander about once a month keeping allergens to a minimum.
  • Do Basenjis shed? Yes but the good news is;the short-haired Basenji dog sheds very little, he keeps himself extremely clean he also doesn't slobber and the Basenji bark is non-existent making it easy to keep those protein particles under control.
  • Many hypoallergenic breeds have high maintenance coats but a daily rub down will keep your Basenjis coat in top condition and your home hair-free.

Basenjis and allergies - What should I do?

Not all allergic reactions to dogs are caused by the hair and dander some in fact are triggered by the proteins in saliva or even urine. With that in mind it is possible to still break out in hives, even with a hypoallergenic breed. If you want to share your life with man's best friend it is important to do your research and spend some time with your chosen hound before committing to ownership.

One of the common reasons dogs end up in shelters is allergies and it is not fair on you or the dog to find out further down the line that you can't bear to be in the same room as your pet. If you suffer from mild to moderate symptoms a Basenji should not present a problem but it is worth discussing with your Allergist beforehand. You could also:​

  • Explain your situation to a potential Basenji breeder and arranged a few visits with the puppy before you bring him home to see if any symptoms occur. A reputable Basenji breeder should provide you with a sales contract which may provide you with the option of returning the dog if things don't work out.
  • You could contact the Basenji Club of America which has some useful contacts and links. Becoming involved in the Basenji network and talking to owners may give you the opportunity to become a temporary fosterer, which will give you an indication of how compatible the breed is with your lifestyle.

5 Ways to Reduce the Risk of an Allergic Reaction from Your Pooch

  • Give your African Basenji a daily brush or rub down every day. Do this outside away from any open windows in case the odd hair gets blown back into the house. There are dog grooming masks available which will prevent you inhaling any allergens.
  • Because an adult Basenji is low-shedding symptoms should be mild enough to keep under control with over the counter anti-histamines or regular allergy shots could be another option.
  • Keep soft furnishings in your home to a minimum, carpets, curtains, rugs and throws are prime places for those pesky particles to accumulate to change to hard floors, blinds and if you must have cushions (like me) wash covers regularly using a hot cycle.
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    Wipe down surfaces every day with a damp cloth soaked in fabric conditioner this will not only make your home smell fresh but the anti-static will repel dust and dander.
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    Wash dog toys and chews regularly saliva is one of the main triggers for pet allergy sufferers. If you are tidying Fido's toys after play-time use gloves.

All about the Basenji - Origin of the Breed

The Basenji dog breed is a primitive dog that hails from Central Africa and is also known as the " African bush dog" It is one of the few dogs not created by man but rather by nature. Drawings of similar looking hounds are depicted in cave drawings from as far back as 6000AD. A sighthound the Basenji has long been used by tribes for hunting, Basenji means "small wild thing from the bush" in the language of the Pygmies with whom they have built a relationship over 1000's of years living in packs while fending for themselves in close proximity to the tribe. There are still dogs living this way which are known as pariah dogs.

There are also illustrations of similar dogs to be found in the tombs of the Pharaohs. It is thought Egyptians revered the breed for its cat-like traits of which there are many and the dogs were given as gifts by the Pygmy tribes.

In the 19th century African explorers discovered these sleek hunting dogs and efforts were made to introduce them to Europe with varying degrees of success. They were at one point kept in zoos and called the "African Bush Dog" However, during the 1930s, successful foundation stock was finally established in England. The first imports to America in 1937 were Bakuma, Rougie and Basashi of Blean. and most of the Basenjis today are descendants of these lines.

​The breed was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1943 and is ranked as the #88 most popular breed. The Basenji has long been popular amongst royalty with Queen Juliana of the Netherlands often pictured with her bitch Zarah during her reign.

​The Basenji retains many of the characteristics that have aided its survival for thousands of years, it has an extremely strong prey drive, can be aloof, is independent and adaptable. The Basenji is not suitable for every dog lover, they need someone who understands the breed, they do however attract attention and can make excellent pets for the right owners.

General Appearance

These unique exotic hounds are easily recognizable. Smallish in size they stand between 16-18 inches at the shoulders. A Basenji's weight should be between 20-24lbs.

They are a square daintily built dog that are incredibly powerful for their size. His legs are long and slender and he can run like the wind. His pricked ears give him a constantly alert look and he has an quizzical expression with dark brown eyes and wrinkled brow.​

A Basenjis tail is curled tightly and he has a silky short, shiny coat and Basenji colors include; red and white, black and white, tri-color and white or brindle and white. Whatever the color, a black Basenji, brown Basenji or brindle Basenji will always have white feet, tail tip and chest.​


The Basenji temperament is unique and he still retains traits that have stood him in good stead for thousands of years and remains close to those wild roots. Playful, curious and affectionate the Basenji will tend to have a strong bond with one member of the family. They are independent thinkers and like many of the hounds they are not as eager to please their owners as some breeds unless it involves hunting. Believe me if a Basenji is on the chase he's not coming back.

The Basenji personality is often described as being cat-like and they indeed, have many feline Basenji characteristics, they move silently, spend time giving themselves a thorough grooming and have an independent streak. They do not bark but are still very vocal grunting, growling, they even have their own special Basenji sounds and Basenji yodel affectionately known as a "Baroo".

Basenjis are a very energetic breed and need lots of exercise and mental stimulation to keep them occupied otherwise they can be extremely destructive and you can wave goodbye to your favorite pair of shoes as they love a good chew.​

They are notorious escape artists and many a bid for freedom has ended in disaster so it is important to have a secure area they can play.​

Basenjis are not the best dogs with young children but as with most breeds if the owner spends time training the dog and child how to behave around each other it can work. Basenjis and cats is a difficult one while they may be Ok with a family cat (an unlikely situation if you suffer from allergies) they will almost definitely chase the neighbors' moggy.​

Owning this breed can be a challenge, of that there is no doubt. Training a Basenji needs to start from day one, they need firm and consistent commands from the outset along with time and patience, with the right owner they make fantastic companions and often one is never enough.



Being a natural breed Basenjis tend to be healthier than their man-made counterparts A Basenji's life expectancy is between 12-16 years, but that is not to say they don't have a few genetic issues to watch out for, including:

  • Fanconi Syndrome - Basenjis are highly susceptible to this kidney condition, there is a DNA test for breeders.
  • Eye problems - Like most of the canine population, the Basenji can inherit eye conditions. Reputable Basenji breeders will provide relevant OFA certification.
  • Hip Dysplasia - The Basenji ranks low in the cases of this condition; however, all breeders should have the parents tested and provide results to potential owners.
  • Immuno-Proliferative Small Intestinal Disease (IPSID) and Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI) - These digestive disorders are not common but any dog suffering from IPSID OR EPI should not be used for breeding.
  • Thyroid problems - Thyroid problems are common in the breed and the autoimmune thyroiditis test is on the list of health tests recommended for Basenjis.
  • Allergies - Basenjis can be prone to food allergies so feeding a premium healthy dog food is essential to maintain a long and active life.


The Basenji diet should be should include a premium quality food that is high in calories and nutrients as these little dogs are extremely active. The breed can also be prone to digestive problems and food allergies.

Around ten percent of allergies in our canine companions are caused by food and that does not include the many who suffer from food intolerance.

The two are often confused but in fact are quite different, food allergies are more serious and happen when the dog's immune system has a reaction to a foodstuff which can cause a wide range of symptoms and in the most severe cases be life-threatening. Whereas a food intolerance may just cause digestive upset, vomiting or loose stools.

Feeding your Basenji, a healthy grain-free diet without additives, preservatives which provides the correct nutrients for the different stages of his life is vital for his health and happiness.

Source: Pinterest

Finding A Good Basenji Breeder

If you decide you are up to the challenge of taking on a Basenji, you may decide to start looking for Basenji puppies for sale. Your ultimate goal is to find a healthy hypoallergenic puppy with an excellent temperament.

It is important to do your research, not rush out and buy the first Basenji puppies you see. A reputable Basenji breeder will be knowledgeable about the breed, happily answer any questions you may have and provide accurate information, support and ongoing guidance throughout the puppy's life.

If they do not, more than likely they are producing pups for profit and while the price they charge may be slightly cheaper, you are taking a big risk buying a puppy from these people.

The Basenji Club of America is a great place to start when looking for Basenji puppies for sale they have a breeders directory and can provide lots of information on the questions to ask the breeder and ongoing care and training of your new puppy, along with local events.​

3 Red Flags to Look Out for When Searching a Basenji Breeder

  • Avoid breeders who want you to pay a deposit online before visiting the puppy. The hypoallergenic basenji may or may not cause a reaction and you don't want to be out of pocket.
  • Find out the prices charged by a few breeders if someone is charging way less than the average it could mean they have too many puppies and are keen to sell quickly which is never a good sign. A high Basenji price may be justified for champion show lines but for the average pet paying too much is just lining the breeder's pocket.
  • Ask how long they have been involved with the breed. Someone is breeding from their first dog and has a Basenji for sale, may not have the knowledge of temperament and health issues and may not have the capacity to provide you with ongoing support after purchase.

Adopting a Basenji from a Rescue or Shelter

Basenji adoption is another option for those who want to own one of these elegant, discerning little hounds. A puppy needs a great deal of time and patience with someone at home most of the time, whereas a fully-grown Basenji will already be housetrained and will be relatively independent being able to be left for short periods of time.

Some people assume that the dogs that end up in rescues have behavioral issues, are aggressive or inferior but this is not the case at all. As previously mentioned the Basenji is a challenging breed and most that end up in rescues are there because potential owners didn't realize just how much of a challenge or were mismatched with a dog unsuitable for their lifestyle.

Others may be there due to a change in the circumstances of their owners, homelessness, divorce even death There are numerous breed specific Basenji rescues across the USA.

Click here for a Basenji rescue contact.

How Much Will a Basenji Set You Back?

How much does a Basenji cost? You can expect to pay anything from $750 upwards for a purebred Basenji with the average cost around $1200. For this price, you should receive a healthy, confident puppy with all the relevant health tests. The puppy will have been vet-checked and should have had its first shots and be wormed. You should receive a sales contract and written information on the puppy's upbringing and diet, along with registration papers.

They are not an expensive dog to own as they do not require professional grooming and are usually a healthy breed so vet bills can be kept low with regular annual check- ups and boosters. You will have to factor in training classes and insurance. It is also recommended to involve your Basenji in some form of dog sport to keep him healthy and his mind occupied.

Source: VictorianBasenjiBreedAssociation

It's a Wrap

We have established the Basenji is not for everyone and can be a challenge to train but they are also full of character, energetic, outgoing and loyal. A Basenji dog can be suitable for people who suffer from mild to moderate allergies and make great companions for the more active owner.

They were born to hunt and are expert escape artists that have absolutely no road sense so need a secure yard to play in and lots of stimulation both mental and physical.

​They are independent so can be left alone as long as they are kept occupied and although they do not bark they make excellent watchdogs.

​They are not recommended for first-time owners but for the right family who suffers from asthma or allergies they can be an excellent choice for a doggy addition to the home.

John Devlin

Husband, father and avid dog lover. Currently the proud owner of George a pedigree Golden Retriever that barely leaves my side. However, cute this sounds a little break from the dog hairs every now and then would be nice!

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