Do Basenjis Hunt Lions – Learn the Truth

Do Basenjis hunt lions? Is this fact or fiction? We are going to tackle just that in this article so fasten your seat belts. The Basenji breed is polarizing when it comes to accurate knowledge about it.

There are many myths that are passed around on forums as well as the web in general. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of in-depth, accurate information on the World Wide Web that you can refer to.

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!

In this article, we are going to look at one such myth (or not) regarding the Basenji. Do Basenjis hunt lions? Here is the short answer:

Basenjis are bred to be hunting dogs and are used to flush out or corner a lion while human hunters take the lion down. In some instances, it has been reported that Basenjis are used to hunt lions in two parties; one to flush the lion out and another to take it down.

The latter part of the above-summarized answer has not been documented but then there are accounts handed down orally that claim this to be fact. Let’s break this down a little further and establish just how true this is.

Are Basenjis Good Hunting Dogs?

Basenjis are believed to be the oldest known dog breed dating back to long before the Egyptian pyramids were built. They are depicted in Egyptian hieroglyphics proving to have been popular at that time.

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

Basenjis are bred to be hunting dogs. Their known area of origin is central Africa around the Congo. After many failed attempts at importing them to Europe and America, the first Basenji managed to breed outside of Africa in the 1930s in Europe.

In the 1940s the first Basenjis were brought to America. Basenjis are great hunting dogs that are classified as both blood and sight hounds. In Africa, they are, to this day, still used for hunting. This is mainly small game. They are also used to control rodent populations in villages.

Basenjis are really fast and agile. When it comes to hunting, their main job is to flash out prey and lead it into hunters’ nets. The hunter will then kill the animal. When it comes to smaller prey or animals slightly bigger than them, Basenjis are capable of killing the prey.

They have a strong prey drive even when domesticated. How strong the prey drive is though, is specific to each Basenji as they possess different personalities. Some will be more aggressive than others but the prey drive is in all.

patting a Basenji on the head
Patting a happy red and white Basenji

Another reason that Basenjis are good hunters is because they are both blood and sight hounds. This means that they use both sight and smell to track their prey. Because they are generally quiet dogs, they fitted with traditional bells around their necks.

Can Basenjis Kill Lions?

So, are Basenjis capable of killing lions? There have been many claims made about Basenjis killing lions and how they do it. Among them is that Basenjis are fast enough to run lion to its death.

This seems really far fetched and most likely untrue. Another account given by a native African from Gambia studying in Canada is that the Masai hunters from Kenya use the Basenjis to lure the lions out of their den towards the hunters who then kill it with their spears. This account seems more likely.

To put it plainly, there are no credible records that prove Basenjis to be lion killers. There is, however, a lot of evidence that they are used in lion hunts.

a white and red basenji sleeping on a bed
A white and red Basenji sleeping on a bed. Comfortable!


Simply put, Basenjis are very able lion hunters. They utilise strength in numbers by hunting in packs. The killing though is usually done by the human hunters. I hope this article has helped bring clarity to this issue for you.