Are Basenjis Protective (Stranger Aggression)

Are Basenjis protective? In this article, we are going to take a look at this question from different angles and hopefully give you a satisfactory answer. Basenjis have a reputation for being aloof and independent leaving many to believe that they only care about themselves.

To answer this question in a nutshell, Basenjis are very protective of people in their family. They are particularly protective of children and babies. They are like that due to their strong pack instinct as well as their affectionate nature.

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.

Are Basenjis Really Protective?

It may seem surprising that a Basenji could be described as compassionate due to the reputation that the Basenji has in some circles. They are generally known for being aggressive towards people, other dogs, and animals.

Contrary to their reputation, they can actually be quite affectionate and cuddly. Basenjis possess a strong pack mentality based on their behaviour during their African ancestry. To this day, when they sleep as a pack, they do it huddled together back to back.

They will follow you all over the house just to stay close to you in one moment and at the drop of the hat can act aloof. Due to the bond, they build with their pack, in this case, you and your family will be very protective.

hiking with a Basenji dog
Even though they are small, some Basenji dogs take to hiking and long walks

Do Basenjis make good guard dogs?

Unlike the majority of dogs, Basenjis do not bark. That does not translate to not being able to make noise though. They are known to be very capable of making noise even annoyingly so. We raise this point because the assumption can be that a guard dog has to at least be able to bark to ward off any intruders.

Though a Basenji is not able to bark, its innate instinctive nature is to protect those who are closest to it. This is one of the strongest reasons why it makes a great guard dog. Its lack of barking ability is more than made up for by aggression and other noises it’s capable of making.

Though they are small in build, Basenjis are quite feisty and fearless. In Africa, they were used as hunting dogs and in some cases, they were used to hunt lions. This shows you that they have enough heart to more than compensate for their lack of size.

an owner kisses a tiny Basenji puppy
Kissing an incredibly small Basenji puppy!

How are Basenjis with Strangers?

So how do Basenjis relate to strangers? How a Basenji is socialized as a puppy will often play a big part in how they end up acting around strangers. Basenji pup owners will deliberately take their puppies to places where they can interact with other dogs and people so that they get used to being around them.

As they grow older, they will be less likely to act in an aggressive manner. There’s no guarantee that socializing your Basenji early in life will cause them to better behave in the long term.  This is because each individual Basenji, much like people, will have their own personal temperament.

The general behavior of Basenjis around strangers is generally aloof behavior. They will usually act in a stand-offish manner and most likely won’t want to be in close quarters to them. It’s not usually a good idea to try and initiate contact with them. A better way is to allow the trust to build between you over time than to let them gravitate towards you.

The best go-between would be the owner who can help break the ice allowing for them to gradually trust the stranger. Again, there is no guarantee of this and the likelihood of things happening quickly is very slim to nonexistent.

If you try to push things the Basenji will either act aloof or actually become aggressive.

How do Basenjis Behave around Children they Don’t Know?

When it comes to children within the family, Basenjis will often be really protective. I guess this is true for most dog breeds. Basenjis will jump in to protect children in their family if they perceive that they are being threatened.

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

This is really good in situations where there is a real threat. It can be the opposite though in a scenario where the children are playing with other kids and the Basenji perceives that there is danger.  Things can get nasty in such situations.

There have been reports of Basenjis biting children lightly or in a more serious way. Basenjis will tend to be gentle with children in the pre-toddler stage. At this stage, they usually exercise puppy tolerance.

It can even be extended to toddlers as well but sometimes toddlers can be perceived as threats by Basenjis due to their posture where they maintain direct eye contact as well as their erratic movements.

The main risk with children is in situations where kids force their way to be physical with them by patting or holding them. This can make them uncomfortable and probably snap at the children. If you own a Basenji, it is important to coach any children who want to play with them on the dos and don’ts to avoid any incidences.


Basenjis are one of the most misunderstood dog breeds on the planet. They have a “bad boy” reputation. If you ask any Basenji owner though, most will tell you that they are some of the most adorable and protective dogs one could ever hope to have.

They express their independence and be aloof from time to time but you most likely won’t find a loyal and more protective breed than the Basenji.

More Reading:
Top 5 best basenji harnesses under $25
Do Basenjis make good guard dogs?
Why Don’t Basenjis Bark – Reason Why Basenjis Can’t Bark
Are Basenjis Protective & Do they Show Aggression Towards Strangers?