Are Basenjis Dangerous – Are They Aggressive Dogs?

Are Basenjis dangerous?  We want to take a deep look into this question and establish whether or not Basenjis really are as bad as their reputation suggests. Basenjis are originally from central Africa where they were primarily used as a hunting dog.

This trait has been passed on genetically through the many generations up to today. They are both blood and sighthounds even though their sighthound side tends to be a bit more dominant. They tend to chase after anything that moves and have been known to hunt down and kill squirrels and cats.

Does this make them dangerous? To give a short answer, Basenjis are independent dogs with a strong prey instinct. They like to hunt and chase other animals. They can tend to show aggression towards other dogs of the same sex as well as young children and toddlers.

Though they exhibit these traits, they are also known to be very affectionate and protective of their families.

training a tricolor Basenji puppy
In the process of training a tricolor Basenji puppy

When you read what you just read, it can be a bit confusing and you may fail to classify Basenjis correctly. This article will attempt to answer all of your questions in a way we believe to be the best. In order to get this, you need to understand a Basenjis overall nature.

Are Basenjis Aggressive?

Basenjis are independent dogs and highly intelligent. This means that they generally pick and choose what they want to do and when they do it. This may translate to them obeying your command at one moment and then completely ignore you the next.

They have been known to be aggressive to other dogs or Basenjis of the same sex and be quite cordial with the rest. Their strong prey drive means that they will chase down animals that stray into your yard if you live in a fenced house. Once they take off chasing after something, you may as well forget about them heeding your calls of “back”.

They don’t like the invasion of personal space or overly physical shows of affection. They tend to become aggressive in such situations. That’s why it’s generally a good idea to keep children and toddlers away from them. We will talk about this a little later on.

Having said all this, Basenjis are also very affectionate and like to cuddle. They generally want to stay within close proximity to their owners and will follow you around the house. They also have a very strong pack mentality meaning with the result being that they will be very protective of family members.

Basenji Temperament

stop basenji biting

What we’ve just described is a blanket classification of the Basenji. You also need to bear in mind that just like all humans and animals, individual Basenjis will also exhibit their own personal traits meaning that no two Basenjis are the same.

In fact, you can have 2 or more Basenjis from the same litter and in the same household exhibiting quite different traits. Some may be quite mellow while others tend to be a lot more assertive in their behaviour.

A naught Basenji looking to steal some food from the kitchen counter. Opportunistic!
A naught Basenji looking to steal some food from the kitchen counter. Opportunistic!

Are Basenjis Destructive?

Basenjis have a lot of energy. This is true for just about all of them. They need an outlet for that energy on a daily basis. When that energy is not expended, they will look for other means of doing it. This can mean being destructive around the house or generally aggressive behaviour.

Basenjis need a minimum of 40 minutes of vigorous activity per day in order to be somewhat subdued. As the saying goes, a tired Basenji is a good Basenji.

How are Basenjis around Babies and Children?

Basenjis are generally known to exhibit puppy tolerance towards babies and will allow them to cross certain lines without any issues at all. It is when they reach the toddler stage when problems may arise. When babies start walking, their line of sight is much higher than before and will be looking directly into the eyes of the Basenji.

This can be interpreted as a sign of aggression by the Basenji and will start exhibiting a lot more aggressive behaviour towards them. Toddlers’ movements also tend to be haphazard and this also putts the Basenji on edge.

If you have babies, toddlers or small children, you may consider getting a Basenji puppy instead of a full-grown adult. This way, there is a lot more time for a bond to be created limiting the possibility of a conflict down the line. This is not a guarantee though.

Are Basenjis Friendly With other House Pets?

Offering a Basenji dog a treat during reward based training.
Offering a Basenji dog a treat during reward based training.

Lastly, we want to look at whether or not Basenjis relate well with other house pets. Basenjis have been known to get along very well with other house pets including other Basenjis, dogs of different breeds as well as cats.

If they are in the same household, they usually get along pretty well cats without any issues. Even if there are no signs of any aggressive behaviour from the Basenji directed towards other pets in the house, there may be cases where Basenjis have killed the family cat when left alone in the house.

They may behave well when you are around but this can quickly go out the window as soon as you leave them alone. For this reason, it’s best to leave your Basenji and other pets in different parts of the house when you leave them alone at home.

We will note though that recorded cases of this happening are low.


So, are Basenjis dangerous? The best verdict would be to say that Basenjis are different. They are not your typical dog. They will demand a lot more out of you and are generally very intelligent dogs. Ask most Basenji owners whether they would trade them for anything and the answer will predominantly be a no.