How to Make a Basenji Yodel? (Steps and Video)

In this article, we are going to look at how to make a Basenji yodel. One of the most endearing things about a Basenji is when they yodel. It’s the reason that Basenjis are known as the singing dog. Any Basenji owners enjoy it when their Basenji does it but can it be taught?

A Basenji yodel is one of those things that may or may not happen for your Basenji. A lot of owners have never heard their Basenji yodel.

Some have managed to get them to yodel by playing specific musical notes or yodelling themselves in order to get their Basenji to yodel as well but there are no guarantees and it really comes down to the unique personality of your Basenji.

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

Basenji is commonly referred to as the African barkless dog. Instead of barking, Basenjis will make howling or whining sounds and more rarely, yodeling. To see how hilarious and cute this can be, you can check out some yodelling videos on YouTube.

Because a Basenji’s yodel tends to be really cute, a lot of Basenji parents want to hear their Basenji yodel and will go to great lengths to hear them do it. There is some confusion in Basenji forums as to whether or not a baroo and a yodel are different things or actually the same thing. The greater consensus is that they are.

Basenjis Can’t Bark

Basenjis actually cannot make a barking sound. This does not necessarily mean that they are quiet by any means. They compensate for this inability to bark with other ways of making their presence known which includes having a seemingly boundless amount of energy; that is in the few hours of the day when they are not sleeping.

Without getting into the technical-scientific explanation as to why the Basenjis can’t bark, it boils down to how their vocal cords are structured. They are not able to vibrate at the rate that allows them to make the barking sound. This makes it physically impossible for them to bark.

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

Why do Basenjis yodel?

Basenjis will make different sounds and yodelling is one of them. However, it seems as if only a few Basenji owners will ever get to witness their Basenji do it. Most Basenjis will not yodel during their lifetime or maybe no one will be there to witness it when they do.

Basenjis will yodel out of excitement, in response to something or when they want to express themselves. A Basenji yodel can be so rare that a number of owners have expressed how their Basenji got surprised the first time they produced a yodel.

Do Basenjis yodel a lot?

Will your Basenji yodel often once they “figure it out”? There really are no guarantees. They may or may not do it again based on a number of factors. One of these factors could be the amount of positive reinforcement that they receive when they actually do yodel.

Another factor could be a pack mentality. If they are other Basenjis that yodel, your Basenji may be inspired to yodel as well. This is not a guarantee either as there are owners of multiple Basenjis who have Basenjis that yodel and others that yodel all within the same pack.

Indicators seem to point more to an individual Basenji’s personality than anything else. Some Bs are yodellers and some just aren’t, it seems.

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!

How to Make Basenji Yodel

Having said all that, there are a couple of things that you could do in order to encourage your Basenji to yodel. I am going to list a few of them here.

Offer Positive Affirmation

Just like human beings, Basenjis also respond positively to affirmation. If they have never yodeled in your presence before, you can try yodeling yourself and try to get them to imitate you. If you can get a friend or family member to join you in doing this, it can help. The friend or family member has to be someone that your Basenji is used to and is comfortable with if you want to increase the chances of succeeding with this.

A great time to positively affirm them is when they actually yodel. This may be when they do it for the first time or if they only do it after long stretches. Giving them positive affirmation will encourage them to do it again.

Play Music

If you are a musician, you may want to play different songs in different keys. Some Basenji owners have discovered that their Basenji yodeled when they played in a certain key or played a specific note. You may want to experiment with this until you find the right one.

A running Basenji leaping through the air.
A running Basenji leaping through the air. They are FAST!

Get Them Around Other Yodellers

As mentioned before in this article, being in a pack of other yodellers will increase the chances of your Basenji becoming one even though this is not necessarily guaranteed. If there are breeders or people you know who have Basenjis that yodel, you may ask to have your B spend time with them.

Breeders, in particular, may have a few tricks they know to help your Basenji start yodeling. Give it a try and see how it goes.


It’s great to hear about your Basenji yodel and even though they are known as the singing dog, it’s no guarantee that they will ever yodel throughout their life. A reasonable expectation is to hear them yodel once, twice, four maybe five times throughout their lives.

Try out different methods as outlined in this article to see to get them to yodel.