Are Basenjis Good Hiking Dogs?

Are Basenjis good hiking dogs? Thinking of going hiking and wondering whether to take your B along?  If that’s you, this post is here to give you some insight into this topic and hopefully help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should take your Basenji on the trails with you.

So, can you take your Basenji hiking with you? Well, the answer is not a straightforward one but we will attempt to summarise it:

You can take your Basenji hiking if you keep them on a leash. They have a high prey drive and a propensity to wander off and not respond to your calls until they choose to come back to you. However, if they are well trained, they will respond and be obedient to you.

brindle basenji up close
A close up of a Brindle Basenji dog with his tongue out

 We did warn you that the answer was not so straightforward. A Basenji has natural inclinations that may make it difficult to deal with on open trails. They tend to wander off and chase after animals and follow smells.

The Basenji is both a sight and bloodhound meaning that it tracks its prey both through sight and smell. What this means effectively is that they will be a bit of a handful off-leash and you will most likely be engaged in a tug of war when they are on a leash.

Do Basenjis Like Walks?

Basenjis love to go on walks as it satisfies their curious nature and allows them to explore other areas outside of their usual environment. Those walks may not be as enjoyable for you though as they tend to be all over the place.

Basenji Hiking

If on-leash, they will be zigging and zagging all over the place and pulling you in whichever direction interests them at that particular point in time. It’s a good idea to use a harness instead of a leash as they allow you to control them relatively easily.

On the other hand, if you have them off-leash, they have a tendency to disappear for stretches and then reappear again. During this time they are often none responsive to your calls. So, what does all this mean when it comes to hiking with your Basenji? Can you or can’t you?

Let’s look at that next:

Are Basenjis Good Off-Leash? Hiking Without a Leash

If you are going to be hiking with your Basenji, it’s advisable to keep them on leash unless they have been well trained and are highly obedient. Most Basenjis, by nature, will be very curious and want to explore their environment.

Basenji on hiking trail

They will literally pick up and follow a trail until they find what they are tracking. When they are in this “zone” they will oftentimes not be responsive to your calls.

This is the case for the majority of Basenjis that have a moderate level of training. There are some that have a milder temperament and will be responsive to you regardless of whether or not they are occupied with something else.

On the other hand, a well trained Basenji will be responsive to your command in most cases. If that is your B, then hiking with them off-leash will probably work.

For the majority of Basenjis though, you will want to keep them on leash. This is best achieved by a no-pull harness. It allows you to keep them under control with minimal effort and will not put a strain on their necks and shoulders as a normal leash would do. You can check out a review we did of budget-friendly Basenji harnesses.

a cute basenji with a colorful harness
A cute Basenji with a colorful harness. Good boy!

Are Basenjis Obedient When Hiking?

We would like to believe that the purpose of going hiking is to unwind, get your heart rate up and enjoy nature with your favorite companion. The last thing you want to be doing is mounting a “search and rescue” mission after your Basenjis runs off chasing after some small animal.

Since Basenjis have a high prey drive they will experience a lot of stimulation and, therefore, an opportunity to exercise their prey drive. It is essential that your Basenji exhibits high levels of obedience if you are to leave them to roam off-leash.

Even normally obedient Basenjis may find it harder to obey in situations where they are in an environment that presents so much to them in the way of stimuli.

basenji beagle mix
A Basenji Beagle mix is a rare but fascinating dog to encounter!


At the end of the day, whether you take your Basenji hiking or not depends on your personal decision. You know your B best. The information we’ve presented in this post simply serves to help you make an informed decision based on your B.