Are Basenji Hypoallergenic? (Good Dogs For Allergies?)

It is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding Basenjis; are Basenjis good for allergy sufferers? In this article, we will explore the commonly held notions and compare them to reality and see how they stack up. So are Basenji hypoallergenic?

Basenjis are not hypoallergenic. They do rank low on the allergic reaction scale because of their short undercoats and their tendency to shed very minimally. It is a misconception that people with allergies will not react to Basenjis.

There is less likelihood of them reacting and a higher probability of them becoming immune.

If you are considering getting a Basenji but are allergic to dogs, there are a few things you need to understand about them first before going all-in because of the information being peddled on the internet that Basenjis are hypoallergenic.

An owner sits with her larger red and white Basenji. Not so small!
An owner sits with her larger red and white Basenji. Not so small!

Are Basenjis really hypoallergenic?

To answer this, let’s look a little deeper at what causes an allergic reaction in most cases. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, pet allergies are caused by a reaction to proteins in urine, dead skin cells, and saliva.

This is contrary to the widely held belief that allergies are in large part due to how much a pet sheds. In fact, in the same article, they categorically state that a hypoallergenic pet does not exist. If we follow this logic, we will discover that what most people are propagating is not based on facts.

Even if you follow the popular opinion, it is not true that Basenjis don’t shed. They do shed much like any other dog. The difference between Basenjis and most dog breeds is that they have a much shorter undercoat and are meticulous groomers.

What ends up happening is that you will hardly find any fur around the house like you would with other breeds. However, if you live in colder climates, the Basenjis in that area will in fact grow thicker undercoats meaning that they will shed more noticeably than Basenjis from warmer places.

So to answer the question in one word, No, Basenjis are not hypoallergenic. In fact, a hypoallergenic pet does not exist.

a Basenji guessing which paw a treat is in
Basenjis are quite good at nosework, like this puppy guessing which hand the treat is in.

Can you build immunity to dog allergies?

Now that that’s out of the way, are you actually able to overcome a pet allergy? It actually is for those who are fortunate enough. There are a number of reported cases of people who have overcome animal allergies and are now 100% free of them.

This can be your story as well. It turns out that some people overcome their allergies due to repeated exposure to pets. Your immune system may eventually overcome the allergy and stop reacting to pets.

Test the Waters First

There are a few things that you can do to see if you are allergic to Basenjis or not. The first thing you can do is visit a friend or family member who owns one. If you react negatively the first time around, go at least 2 or three other times. You could also try this same method by visiting a breeder in your area and spending some time there.

You may find that your reactions will cease or be less intense. Another step you may consider is to foster a Basenji from a shelter for a couple of days or weeks. Admittedly this is more involving and may also be a lot riskier. Consult your physician first before you take this step so that you don’t put yourself at great risk.

basenji dog looking happy as it explore a hedge
A happy Basenjoy dog explores a hedge. Red and white markings.

A Case for the Basenji and Allergies

Now that we’ve gotten the issue of whether or not a Basenji is hypoallergenic out of the way, let’s look into some of the reasons people who are allergic to other dog breeds find better success with Basenjis. A major part of this has to do with their shedding or lack thereof.

I’m led to believe that a major portion of dog-related allergies have something to do with how much a dog sheds. If this assumption is correct, you will find fewer people with allergies reacting negatively to Basenjis.

The reality on the ground though seems to point to the fact that most Basenji owners who have allergies react to Basenjis but build resistance after about 10 days to 2 weeks.

If you are really decided on getting a Basenji, it’s worth considering enduring a few days or weeks of discomfort until you build up resistance. Once again, I do stress that you need to consult your physician about your plans before embarking on this journey.

basenji dog eye wipe
Like many small dogs, Basenji’s neer eye gunk removed – preferably before they dry. Dog eye wipes help but any cloth can do.


Basenjis are not hypoallergenic as most people would be led to believe. They do present the best opportunity for those with allergies to build up resistance. In fact, some Basenji owners with other dogs as well have noted that once they developed a resistance to their Basenjis, they also overcame their allergic reactions to their other dogs.