african dog breeds

8 African Dog Breeds

When thinking of the most popular dog breeds, it’s unlikely that any African breeds will instantly pop into your mind, however the African continent has produced some wonderful four-legged friends who could be the perfect addition to your family. Here, we take a look at eight of the best dog breeds from Africa that you may want to consider if you’re considering getting a pet.


Perhaps the best known African dog breed is the Basenji – the perfect choice for anyone who wants a smaller furry friend. One of the most interesting features of this breed is that it doesn’t have a bark, instead, it produces a rather unusual howling sound that is sometimes described as a yodel! It’s been debated whether or not the Basenji is the oldest of all dog breeds.

It’s believed that they may have descended from wolves in Asia and they’ve certainly been around in Africa for centuries, working as hunters’ companions. With a lifespan of up to 14 years, Basenjis are ideal companions, but don’t always get on well with other domestic pets. They can also be quite destructive if they get bored, so plenty of training and exercise is important.

basenji breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback

If you love large breed dogs, you’ll love the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Growing to weigh up to 85lbs, these giants are believed to be a cross between the Khoikhoi tribe’s traditional dogs with Great Danes, Greyhounds, Foxhounds and Bloodhounds.

Fanciers are undecided about whether or not they are scenthounds or sighthounds, and some even call them wagon hounds. Whatever they are, they have a distinctive ridge on their back which gives them their name. These large dogs are very powerful and require a lot of obedience training and socialization if they are to be a good companion.

rhodesian ridgeback breed


Another large breed dog which originates from South Africa, the Boerboel was original bred to protect their owners’ homes from large predators like lions. Possibly part Mastiff, part native dog, this is a powerful companion. Generally light brown or red, the Boerboel has a short coat, muscly body and blocky head.

An adult dog can weigh as much as 150lbs so training them properly is very important and socialization is key at an early age. Boerboels can also be easily bored, so lots of exercise is vital. They are outstanding guard dogs, but can be wonderful companions too when trained properly.

boerboel breed

Abyssinian Sand Terrier

If you have allergies to pet hair, the Abyssinian Sand Terrier is the pet for you. One of the few hairless breeds, this mid-sized dog only weighs about 17.7kg when fully grown and it is very keen to please its owners.

A well-socialized dog can be trusted with even the smallest members of the family and will also be good with other pets. Abyssinian Sand Terriers are indoor animals and don’t handle the cold well because of their hairlessness, but they do still need some outdoor exercise and make great jogging companions.

abyssinian sand terrier breed

Coton De Tulear

If you prefer your four-legged friends to be cuddly and fluffy, the Coton de Tulear from Madagascar is the perfect choice. With its cotton-like fur and maximum weight of just 6kg, this little dog can live for up to 16 years.

Playful and intelligent, they are loving and lively but also easy to train making them a perfect companion for those who are looking for a fun pet to participate in agility competitions. Also perfect for those in small homes, the Coton de Tulear doesn’t need too much exercise and they are ideal for families with small children.

coton de tulear breed


Similar in appearance to the better-known Saluki, this North African dog is also a sighthound. Skinny and tall, they are still lightweight and have a graceful appearance. They also become highly attached to their owners and can be wary of strangers.

They are excellent guard dogs and are fast runners. They also frequently chase cats and other small creatures, so vigilance is necessary. As very independent dogs, they can be hard to housebreak, but will be lovely and dedicated companions.

sloughi breed


Another type of sighthound, the Azawakh is another thin and tall dog with an aloof an rugged demeanor. When properly trained, they make affectionate and attentive companions, and they are generally pretty quiet once they have attached themselves to their family. Originally bred in the Sahel region, they were bred to guard the Touareg nomadic peoples’ tents in the desert.

Today, they will bark at strangers and guard your property well, but they aren’t good around other pets. They also make excellent exercise buddies as their lean body and long legs make them outstanding runners. This also means that they need a lot of exercise every day to avoid boredom.

azawakh breed

Chinese Crested

Another wonderful pet for those with pet hair allergies, the Chinese Crested is hairless, small and light with a sweet and loving temperament. Playful, alert and lively, this is a fun-loving dog who will be a great companion for the whole family, including children.

Despite the fact that they are happy to laze around the house all day, they are also exceptional when it comes to agility competitions, and they are remarkably intelligent, with climbing, jumping and digging among their favourite activities. The Chinese Crested has a reputation for ugliness, and in fact, they have won the “ugliest dog” competition several times, however fanciers wouldn’t exchange them for any other breed due to their loyalty.

They are ideal pets for those who live in warm climates, but don’t handle the cold well due to their lack of fur.

chinese crested breed

Although there are many African dog breeds that have proven to be very popular among those who are looking for something a little more unusual from their furry pal, these are eight of the best. Whether you prefer your four-legged companions to be large, small, speedy or cuddly, there is sure to be a pet on this list that will be the ideal addition to your family.


  1. Boerboel, Vetstreet
  2. Africanis, Wag!

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