Are Basenjis Good Apartment Dogs?


The Basenji is a small dog breed native of the Congo region of Africa where they were used as hunting dogs. It is considered one of the oldest breeds of domesticated dogs.

It’s not a very common breed but it is considered a “cult breed”. Basenjis owners are often fervent and devoted admirers of this dog.

But, are Basenjis good apartment dogs?

Basenjis are great apartment dogs and wonderful pets. They are small, quiet dogs that need very little maintenance. They are playful, fun, and high-spirited dogs while being loving and protective of their family. But they are not easy dogs.

They need a lot of effort and dedication. They are quite stubborn dogs that need a calm owner, but firm and consistent with the house rules. Also, they are very active dogs that must be provided with a lot of daily activity.

That’s why you have to take into account that Basenjis can be good pets, but they are not the ideal dog for everyone.

So it’s important to consider a few things first to ensure that a Basenji can have a full and healthy life in an apartment.

Basenji Temperament and Personality Traits

Basenji Temperament & Personality

The Basenji is an intelligent and independent dog, although he is also alert and reserved with strangers. But although he may be an aloof dog with strangers, one of his main characteristics is that he is very affectionate with his family. Although he tends to be emotionally attached to one person.

They are very affectionate, playful and fun-loving dogs with whom you can spend a lot of time entertained with various activities and adventures, both indoors and outdoors.

Although if it’s raining, there is no way to get him out. Basenjis hate wet weather.

They are also good watchdogs and will always defend their family and territory when necessary.

They are dogs that need time and require a lot of attention. They are not dogs that can be left in a garden or patio unattended.

They need to be inside with their family and be part of family activities.

Are Basenjis Good Family Dogs?

Basenjis are very loving and protective of their family. They are popular as family dogs due to being small hypoallergenic dogs with a playful and happy personality.

But keep in mind that Basenjis are not very fond of little children. They can consider young children as equals and even take responsibility for educating them which can lead to dangerous and difficult situations for the dog owner.

It’s a more suitable dog for homes with older children and even, due to his high energy, they can play with them for hours until both are completely exhausted.

Can Basenjis be Left Alone?

Basenjis are pack animals. They don’t manage to be lonely well for a long time and it’s common they develop separation anxiety if they are left alone for long periods.

Since they are dogs that get along very well with other dogs, it’s usually recommended to adopt more than one Basenji so that they are not alone.

Since they are very intelligent and active dogs, if they are not properly stimulated mentally and physically, they are easily bored and frustrated. So when they are alone they will find ways to use that great energy that characterizes them.

One way they tend to focus their energy is by chewing and eating everything in their path.

They are also known as escapist dogs. When a Basenji is alone, unsupervised, and determined to go somewhere or chase a small animal, nothing can stop him.

Do Basenji Dogs Bark?

Although it’s a quiet dog compared to other breeds, this doesn’t mean that he’s a silent dog.

Basenjis are known as the “African Barkless Dog” since they don’t make the common dog bark, but rather make sounds closer to a coyote or a wolf.

In addition to the common growls and whines that all dogs make, the Basenji is known for his yodel-like sound. And if he is distressed, this yodel sound can be quite loud and annoying to close neighbors.

The Energy Level of a Basenji

Basenji Energy Level

Basenjis are very active dogs with a high energy level.

It’s a dog that regularly requires a lot of exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy.

It’s a breed that if he does not use and burn all the energy he has, he is easily bored and frustrated. And a bored or frustrated Basenji can manifest destructive behaviors like chewing everything he finds or escaping at the slightest opportunity.

For some Basenjis, a couple of long daily walks is more than enough, but others need more energetic exercise sessions.

They are dogs that adapt well to active owners and families that enjoy outdoor activities such as jogging, running or hiking.

Grooming Needs of a Basenji

Basenji Grooming Needs

They a low maintenance dog. Basenjis are very clean dogs that shed very little. It’s even said that they groom themselves like cats.

Its characteristic short and smooth coat requires very little care. Occasional gentle and quick brushing is more than enough to keep his coat healthy.

They do not have the characteristic “dog smell” and it’s not necessary to bathe them often unless they get dirty for some particular reason.

Just in case they don’t wear their nails down naturally, it’s necessary to cut their nails regularly since long nails can cause pain and problems when walking or running.

The Challenge of Training a Basenji

Training a Basenji

Since the Basenji is a very intelligent dog, quite stubborn and inclined to mischief, it’s very important to start training him from an early age.

It is considered one of the least trainable dogs since you can never be sure when he will want to obey you. He will always consider first whether there is any good reason to obey you.

For this reason, they need calm, firm and consistent owners. With a passive or inconsistent owner, Basenjis often take on the role of the pack leader and become demanding and often manifest behavioral problems.

But they can be successfully trained with patience, positive reinforcement, and creativity. The secret is to find a way to make them believe that training and obeying you is their idea.

Basenjis must be trained consistently and with kindness. If harshly treated they become more stubborn and less likely to obey you.

Basenjis and Socialization

Basenji socialization

Basenjis are quite protective of their family and very suspicious and reserved with strangers.

For this reason, they must be properly socialized from an early age. You need to expose them to many different people, sounds, sights and experiences.

This helps them to avoid being suspicious and fearful and to grow up with a well-balanced temperament and to learn to better handle new situations and experiences.

Although Basenjis generally get along well with other dogs if they are socialized from a young age, they don’t get along well with non-canine pets. They have a strong prey drive and will chase any cat or small animal that crosses their path.

Tips for Raising a Basenji in an Apartment

Raising a Basenji in an Apartment

1. Start Training as Soon as Possible

As we mentioned before, Basenjis are very intelligent but they are also independent thinkers and very stubborn.

With a Basenji, the most important thing is to start training them from an early age. This will make things much easier.

It’s necessary for him to learn the basic obedience commands and to teach him the house rules clearly.

Although they are a difficult breed to train, it’s possible with patience and perseverance.

It may be necessary to take him to obedience classes with a professional trainer.

2. Be the Leader of the Pack

Basenjis have a strong pack instinct. The order of the pack is important to them.

It is necessary to establish our role as the leader of the pack from the beginning and to be consistent and constant. With a Basenji, you never have to let your guard down or he will assume the role of the pack leader at the slightest opportunity.

Basenjis are free thinkers and can be very manipulative and when they feel they don’t have an authority figure, it is very difficult to control them.

What a Basenji needs is a calm leader who is consistent with the house rules. A leader who is firm and clear about what he expects from the dog helps the Basenji feel more secure and comfortable.

3. Provide Early Socialization

As with all dogs, socialization helps prevent Basenjis from becoming shy and suspicious. Furthermore, early socialization allows a Basenji puppy to grow self-confident and with good social skills, both with people and with other dogs.

A good Dog Daycare is a great way to start socializing your puppy with other dogs. This helps them learn the language and rules of dog interaction. It also serves to have a place where they can play with other dogs and burn that extra energy.

You should always look for a responsible daycare where they are careful to match dogs with those of the same size, age and temperament.

It is important to remember not to socialize our dog with other dogs until he has his vaccines complete.

Taking your Basenji to parks, cafes or shops where dogs are allowed and where he can meet and deal with different people, will also help him handle better various social situations.

4. Keep Him Mentally Stimulated

Basenjis are very intelligent and active dogs. They need to be constantly stimulated and mentally challenged so that they don’t get bored and manifest behavioral problems.

For this, it helps to constantly take them to new places and offer them new experiences. This allows them to use their enormous curiosity and explore new things.

Obedience and agility classes also offer them the opportunity to stay mentally stimulated.

At home, they need to have toys to keep them busy. They are dogs that like to chew, so chew toys are a good option to entertain them and address their need to chew.

Puzzle toys are a great alternative to keep them stimulated and occupied for long periods.

It is always recommended to constantly change the toys so that they do not get bored with them.

5. Keep up With His Physical Activity

Basenjis are dogs with high energy levels that need to be physically active regularly to stay mentally and physically healthy.

They need daily vigorous exercise and activity to release their high physical energy.

This can be with a couple of long daily walks followed by a vigorous game session, or with a couple of jogging or running sessions.

You have to consider never leaving a Basenji off-leash since if he sees a small animal on his way, he will chase him and nothing will stop him.

In case you want to let him run freely, you have to make sure it’s in a safe enclosed area.

6. Don’t Leave Him Alone for Long

Basenjis do not adapt well to homes where he has to be alone for a long time. It’s a dog that needs to spend time with his family and participate in all family activities.

When they have to be left alone, we must ensure that they have a good session of vigorous exercise beforehand. A tired Basenji will most likely sleep while you are gone.

It also helps to leave him toys that can keep him entertained and keep him mentally stimulated while he’s home alone.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, although they are not easy to breed dogs, yes, Basenjis are good apartment dogs.

They are small, very clean and generally quiet dogs. They are also protective and very loving to their family.

But, in order to raise a Basenji in an apartment, you mainly have to be completely sure that you can meet their exercise needs and have the patience and perseverance to train them. Otherwise, it will be difficult to make it work. 

Always keep in mind that having a dog is a long-term commitment.

But if you can meet their needs, any Basenji owner will tell you that it is worth the effort. That in return you have the opportunity to have a great and faithful companion. An affectionate and loving dog with whom strong bonds are built.