Basenji Bark: Why These Dogs Don’t Bark Like Others

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Basenjis are an ancient breed of dog originating from Africa. They are unique in many ways, including their inability to bark like other dogs. While many people might assume that all dogs bark, basenjis communicate in a variety of different ways. In this article, we will explore why basenjis don’t bark, how they communicate, and what you can expect if you are considering adopting one of these fascinating animals.

Why Don’t Basenjis Bark?

The answer to this question lies in the basenji’s anatomy. Unlike most dogs, basenjis have a larynx that is shaped differently. This means that while they are still capable of making vocal sounds, their barks are usually more of a yodel or a chortle than a traditional bark. It’s also worth noting that basenjis tend to be quieter in general than other breeds, which makes them well-suited to apartment living or situations where excessive noise could be a problem.

How Do Basenjis Communicate?

Despite their lack of traditional barking, basenjis are still quite vocal animals. They communicate in a variety of ways, including:

1. Yodels

As mentioned, basenjis tend to yodel instead of bark. This is a distinctive vocalization that is often compared to the sound of a human baby crying or a clown horn honking.

2. Growls and Whines

Like other dogs, basenjis are capable of growling and whining. These vocalizations can convey a range of emotions, from playfulness to fear.

3. Body Language

Basenjis are highly expressive dogs and often use their body language to communicate. For example, a wagging tail can indicate excitement or happiness, while a tucked tail might suggest fear or anxiety.

4. Scent Marking

Basenjis also communicate through scent marking. They have a keen sense of smell and will often urinate or defecate in certain areas to communicate with other dogs or mark their territory.

What Is It Like To Own a Basenji?

If you are considering adopting a basenji, it’s important to understand that they are unique animals with distinct needs. While they are intelligent and affectionate, they can also be stubborn and independent. Some things to keep in mind if you are considering a basenji include:

1. Training

Basenjis are smart dogs, but they can also be willful. Training should be firm, consistent, and positive. Early socialization is also important to prevent any behavior issues.

2. Exercise

While basenjis are smaller dogs, they still have a lot of energy. Daily walks and playtime are important for keeping them healthy and happy.

3. Grooming

Basenjis have short, smooth coats that require minimal grooming. However, they do shed, so regular brushing is recommended.


Basenjis are a fascinating breed of dog with many unique traits, including their lack of traditional barking. While they may not be for everyone, those who are willing to put in the time and effort to train and care for a basenji will be rewarded with a loyal, intelligent, and affectionate companion.


1. Are basenjis good apartment dogs?

Yes! Basenjis are small, quiet, and well-suited to apartment living. However, they still require daily exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy.

2. Are basenjis hypoallergenic?

No, basenjis are not hypoallergenic. They do shed, although their short coats require minimal grooming.

3. Can basenjis be trained to bark?

While it’s unlikely that you will be able to train a basenji to bark in the traditional sense, you can encourage them to vocalize in other ways through training and socialization.

4. Do basenjis get along with other dogs?

Basenjis can be socialized to get along with other dogs, but they can also be territorial and may be best suited as only dogs or in households with other basenjis.

5. What health issues are common in basenjis?

Basenjis are generally healthy dogs, but they can be prone to certain conditions like hip dysplasia, Fanconi syndrome, and progressive retinal atrophy. Regular veterinary check-ups are important to catch and treat any issues early.