Are Basenjis Good with Babies

Are you expecting a baby or already have one and are considering getting a Basenji? Regardless of which of the two scenarios fits you best, you are most likely concerned as to whether or not you can have a harmonious family setup. So, are Basenjis good with babies?

This question does not have a one size fits all answer. Just like humans, Basenjis have different personalities as well and you can expect different responses from different Basenjis.

Generally speaking, Basenjis are good with babies but may have issues once they become toddlers. At this stage, the toddlers have erratic, clumsy movements and at eye level with the Basenjis. This may lead to awkward eye contact which the Basenjis may interpret as aggressive behavior.

In light of this, you will have to be mindful of the potential issues that may arise once your baby reaches this stage of development and get ahead of it. In the rest of this article, we are going to look at the different possibilities and the best way we believe will bring the best results.

a basenji with a small child
A Basenji licks the face of a small dog

Are Basenjis Dangerous for Babies??

First, let’s look at whether or not a Basenji can be deemed dangerous. A Basenji is a lively dog and generally has an aloof personality. They are also very intelligent and like their independence. They also possess a strong pack mentality. This stems from their heritage in Africa where they hunted as packs and generally slept in close quarters.

Due to this strong pack mentality, you will find that they desire closeness and generally do better as indoors dogs than outdoors. This also makes them very protective of their family. You will get different responses to children and other dogs from Basenjis. Some take to them quite quickly while others generally tend to not desire any part of it. They really do possess their own unique personalities.

Basenjis will require some space from time to time where they just need to have some alone time. When you have older kids, they will generally be able to read this and give them that space. This will generally not be the case with toddlers and this can be a potential problem.

three colors of Basenji puppies
Three different colored Basenji puppies from the same litter. Tri color, black and white, and red and white.

Bringing in a New Baby to the Family

If you already own a Basenji and are expecting a baby, there are a few things which you need to be mindful of. Depending on how long you’ve had your Basenji for, they have most likely formed a strong bond with you.

In light of that, you’ll need to be careful with how you introduce the new addition to the family and how you treat them. One good way that can greatly influence how well they warm up to their new sibling is to let them smell and lick the baby when you come back from the hospital.

Make them associate the baby with good things by giving them treats and treating them extra well when the baby is around. Make sure that you also try and maintain the same routine as before the baby arrived. They should never feel that the baby is replacing them.

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

As your baby grows, they can play with them under your close supervision. Basenjis usually exhibit puppy tolerance towards babies and will allow them to get away with behavior that they may otherwise respond negatively to in other people.

The challenge may come when the baby becomes a toddler. At this stage, the Basenjis may start becoming less tolerant. This is in large part due to how the baby starts moving in an irregular fashion. This may affect the Basenjis negatively and cause them to react in a way that warns the toddler to stay away.

Unfortunately, toddlers may not be able to understand these gestures which lead to tense situations. There are Basenji owners who have reported their Basenjis snapping or growling at the toddlers.

A tri color Basenji gazes lovingly at its owner.
A tri color Basenji gazes lovingly at its owner. The feeling is mutual!

Another big reason is that the toddlers will now be standing in an upright position where they look directly into the eyes of the Basenji. This may be viewed as aggressive behaviour by the Basenji.

Of course, the scenario described above is not typical but is a possibility you need to be mindful of. It has to be stressed once again that Basenjis, much like humans, have different personalities. Each one will respond differently to the baby

One Basenji owner actually reported that their B was interested in the new addition for just a few days and didn’t want anything else to do with them after that.

Bringing in a New Basenji to the Family

basenji pack dog

A different scenario is bringing a new Basenji into the family. This has its own set of unique challenges. You may not always know how they will respond to babies until they are part of your family. In such cases, you may want to give them a bit of time to get used to the new environment before you can judge how they respond when they are settled in.

It would be wise to foster a Basenji for a few weeks or a month before deciding to take them on permanently. There are reports of Basenjis that are good with kids elsewhere but may not be good with kids in their own family. This approach will give you the time and space to study them without the necessity of adopting them full-time.

Some would suggest getting a puppy instead. The reasoning is that they will grow with your baby and develop a bond early on. This can potentially work. The only challenge with this approach is that you can’t tell what personality your pup will have once fully grown.

The floppy face of a Basenji smiling
Basenji dogs have a surprising amount of loose skin on their face!

Is a Basenji a Good Damily Dog?

Basenjis are good family dogs. They generally tend to function best in families with older kids. Their strong pack mentality makes them an ideal part of the family. You just need to be mindful of potential issues which may arise when you have younger children or toddlers.


Whether your Basenji will be good with babies or not is based on a number of variables. The best you can do is to provide an environment that increases the possibility of a healthy relationship between your Basenji and baby.

If you are in a situation where you already have a Basenji and baby in the house and facing problems, you may want to contact a behavior specialist who will assist you in handling the situation in the best way possible.

More Reading:
How are Basenjis With Cats – Can They Co-Exist?
Why Don’t Basenjis Bark – Reason Why Basenjis Can’t Bark
Are Basenjis Expensive – How Much a Basenji Costs
Top 5 best basenji harnesses under $25