Aren’t you curious to know which dog breeds originated from which continent? Knowing your dog’s history might prove to be a very valuable insight. You’ll know his temperament, his general characteristics and that will make him easier to train. Besides, if you’re interested in African dog breeds and adopting a dog with this genetic inheritance, we’re going to take you through the 10 most famous dogs of African descent.
While it may have been believed that most of these African breeds date back to Antiquity because of the semblance with dogs depicted in various Egyptian hieroglyphs, DNA testing has shown that only the Basenji is an Ancient African Dog, while the other breeds are much newer.
Disregarding their age, all these dogs are fun, smart and cute! Below we’ll give you some info on these pureblood African Dogs, so you can decide which one to adopt.
#1 The Boerboel
Bred initially as a farm dog in the 17th century, this dog’s duty was to protect his surroundings and be able to track down the prey hunted by humans. He’s a well-built, strong and courageous dog. His breeding renders him very protective, willing to do anything to protect his family, but he’s likewise calm and confident, not aggressive.
The Boerboel’s life span is about 10 to 12 years, and both the male and female grow to about 70-90kg, reaching a height of 64–70 cm (the male) and 59–65 cm (the female).
This dog may have many qualities, but he’s definitely not the dog you want to get if you’ve never had one before. The reason is that he demands very much attention from your part, early obedience training and daily exercise. You can play with him in a fenced yard or somewhere in the great outdoors – this is not an adaptable breed to live indoors or in an apartment – and choose from different sorts of activities: fetch, hide and seek, hiking, or even swimming.
With agility and obedience training, you’ll find that the Boerboel is very easily trained and that he learns very quickly. He’s also a great choice when it comes to children, he likes playing with them and he’s very loving.
While you don’t need to worry very much in the grooming department, the Boerboel sheds a moderate amount of hair, so you should be ready with the vacuum. You have to groom him only once per week and give him an occasional bath.
#2 The Africanis
This is an umbrella name for various species of dogs that come from South Africa as, in fact, the name suggests. The legend has it that these medium sized dogs, reaching a height of 50-60 cm and a weight of 25-45 kg, have been around for 7000 years, since the Neolithic herdsmen that came from the Middle East brought them along in Africa.
Being a very slender and muscled breed, he’s very quick and supple in his movements, becoming fairly quick when it comes to running. He also comes in a variety of colors, and he can have some markings. If you see an Africanis that has a ridge on his back, he may not be suitable for breeding, since the ridge is known to be connected with dermoïd sinus mutation.
Except for the above mention condition, the Africanis is a pretty healthy dog breed with a lifespan of 9 to 12 years. In fact, he doesn’t have special dietary needs and he’s known to have developed a natural immunity for both internal and external parasites.
He’s pretty adaptable and can also be kept in an apartment, provided you walk him daily and keep him well exercised. The Africanis lived around human settlements and livestock for centuries and he has a strong instinct toward guarding. As such, he’s very territorial but he’s also friendly and fun to be around with.
Another thing is that, since he’s used to warmer environments, he’ll need to be kept out of the cold.
#3 The Basenji
With a weight of just 10–12 kg (males) and 9–11 kg (females), standing at a height of barely 41–43 cm (males) and 38–41 cm (females), the little Basenji fellow is an Ancient African hunting dog. He’s very alert and fun-loving, but also curious and quite stealth when he wants to, reflecting his original purpose.
That’s why he constantly needs to be exercised, both physically and mentally. Without new challenges and fun activities he will soon become bored and start chewing things up. The Basenji will also prove to be quite a challenge for you too, since he can’t be left unsupervised even in your own yard, and never be left off his leash when walking. When he sees something moving, he just runs after it and, having hunter blood running through his veins, he won’t easily come back. As such, he’s pretty aggressive with smaller animals and rather weary towards strangers.
He’s not easily trainable, but if you want to have a Basenji of your own you must think like a leader at all times, and don’t let him manipulate you.
Being so intelligent, he will quickly learn and be easily housebroken. On the other hand, his temperament is quite on the independent side so he may frequently try to escape.
Another plus is that he doesn’t shed too much hair and he’s easily groomed so, if you have a strong hand and can offer confident leadership, the Basenji can prove a wonderful, fun dog for you.
#4 The Rhodesian Ridgeback
This medium sized dog reaches a height of 63 – 69 cm (males) and 61 – 66 cm (females), while getting to a usual weight range of 36 – 41 kg (males) and 29 – 34 kg (females). They don’t have many problems in changing their environment and can resist big temperature fluctuations. However, they are prone to different health conditions, such as dysplasia, dermoid sinus, cysts and mast cell tumors.
Nevertheless, their adaptability makes them fit to also live in an apartment or indoors, provided they are exercised properly. The best environment to raise a Rhodesian Ridgeback in is at a house with a large yard. He’ll need to run a lot – that’s his favorite way of consuming his energy – so, if you’re looking for a jogging partner, you’ve found one! On the other hand, if you can’t let him run as much as he pleases, he will show aggressiveness and destructive tendencies.
Otherwise, this large, muscular hound is pretty obedient and calm, very loyal, intelligent and courageous. He’s not very good with young children, even though he’s an affectionate animal, because he can play a little too rough. He’s not too good with strangers either and he can get a bit defensive, so be sure to socialize him properly.
The reason for all his exercise demands and his temperament around humans is that he was originally bred in Zimbabwe for hunting and defense purposes. He’s actually a cross breed between different ridgeback dogs brought by Boer settlers 5 centuries ago, and Khoikhoidogs, Mastiffs, Deerhounds or Great Danes, being recognized by the AKC in 1955.
#5 The Azawakh
A sighthound dog breed from Africa, the Azawakh is a tall but very thin dog, as an adult can get to a height of 61 – 74 cm, but weigh only 15 – 25 kg. His lifespan ranges between 10 to 12 years, and he’s well known for his personality and figure. He’s refined, aloof, rugged and fierce, but likewise very attentive and affectionate.
The Azawakh is a very quiet dog and he mostly keeps for himself, but he’s one of the most loyal, loving dogs out there and he gets so attached to a certain family, that he can only be separated from them with great difficulty. He was bred in the Sahel region of Africa, and he lived in this desert area with the nomadic people of Touareg, protecting their tents.
That’s why he’s not at all friendly towards strangers and will bark at them. He also has a pretty good prey instinct, so he might chase smaller animals. If you have other pets in your house and teach your Azawakh to live alongside them, he may sometimes forget his training and chase them around the house. He’s pretty good with other dogs though, but he still has to be supervised.
His slim constitution, with long legs and lean body makes him the perfect animal for running. As such, you can keep him indoors, but still have to provide him with the exercise he needs – at least half an hour everyday. You’ll also have to be the one exercising him, he won’t do it by himself, not even in a fenced area.
#6 The Sloughi
Another vigilant, loyal, smart and loving dog, the Sloughi is a North African breed, coming from the sighthound family. It’s places of origins and main home today is around Morocco. He’s another tall, skinny fellow like his brother the Azawakh, reaching a height of 60 – 70 cm, but getting in a weight range of only 18 to 28 kg.
He has a really elegant and graceful demeanor, being a quiet dog who would do anything for his family. In fact, he gets so closely connected to his owners, that he can’t be moved into a new home very easily. Besides, he doesn’t like strangers very much, he’s pretty careful and reserved around them, observing them from afar. As such, he also doesn’t like being petted by them.
That makes the Sloughi one of the most territorial and defensive sighthounds, and he would react very badly if he felt somebody threatened him or his family. He’s also one great runner, probably because of the shape of his body and legs, which proficiently aid him when it comes to jumping. That’s why you’ll have to keep him inside a tall-fenced area, otherwise he’ll jump right over the fence.
He’s got a strong prey instinct, chasing all sorts of critters around and he needs to be frequently exercised. You can bring him along on your jogs, as long as you give him a comfortable bed to sleep in after.
All in all, the Sloughi is very loving, but he’s also independent and quite difficult to housebreak.
#7 Coton de Tulear
Named after his place of origin (Tulear, Madagascar) and his cotton-like fur, this little amusing fellow is a small sized dog, reaching a height of only 22 – 30 cm, and a weight between 3 to 6 kg. His lifespan is pretty long for a dog, as he can live for 12 to 16 years. This is a great dog to have, because he will distract and amuse you with his tricks and playfulness. He’s also full of life and loving, but he’s deeply intelligent, which in turn makes him easily trainable.
As such, he loves taking part in various agility and obedience competitions. In fact, he was bred particularly for becoming a great companion, and that’s why the best place for him to live is indoors. Even though he’s quite energetic and simply adores playtime, he doesn’t have very high exercise demands. In the end, he will only be as active as his owners are and all that makes him the perfect dog to have around kids.
As a downside, a Coton de Tulear has to be brushed quite frequently and they also need extra-grooming when they reach adulthood. Some Coton owners also complain about how difficult they are to be housetrained, but the fact is they will get the gist of it pretty fast if they have a regular schedule and they’re generously rewarded. You can also crate-train them at first if you have to leave the house for many hours at a time.
#8 The Chinese Crested
A small hairless dog, ranging between 23 and 33 cm in height and only 2.3 to 5.4 kg in weight, the Chinese Crested was bred at first as a companion for invalid people. As such, his personality is sweet-tempered, happy and loving, but he’s also fairly lively, playful and alert. In short, he’s a great dog to have around and bring joy to your day.
His lifespan reaches 13 to 15 years, throughout which the Chinese Crested will prove to be a little furry ball of contradictions. He can be the epitome of laziness, spending endless hours without doing anything, while he’s also one of the best dogs when it comes to agility and athletic competitions.
He’s a very devoted companion and he doesn’t take to strangers, but he’s very friendly with children. His remarkable intelligence also aids in his training. Otherwise, jumping, digging and climbing are his favorite activities, so make sure you keep him well exercised.
When it comes to his preferred environment, the best place for a Chinese Crested is indoors, with his loving family. He can even tolerate very high temperatures, but he’s pretty bad when dealing with a cold – probably because he’s hairless.
#9 The Aidi
Also called the Atlas Mountain Dog, the Aidi is a medium-sized dog, reaching about 25 kg in weight and 52 to 62 cm in height. His place of origin is Morocco, and he was bred to defend the livestock. Apart from his protecting traits, he’s a good hunter and has an incredible sense of smell.
Being a protector of nomad tribes, like the Berbers, the Aidi is known for his fearlessness and territorial behavior. That’s why he needs to be properly exercised and be socialized from a very young age, because he doesn’t much like strangers, nor small animals which may trigger his chasing instincts.
The Aidi has a muscular body, with a thick but soft coat which is also resistant to different kinds of weather. As such, if you want a great watchdog for your family, the alert, agile Aidi can assume that role if he’s trained young.
#10 The Abyssinian Sand Terrier
Another breed of hairless dogs, this medium sized pooch gets to be 39 to 52 cm in height and 9.5 to 17.7 kg in weight. He’s very brave and loyal, ready to do whatever it takes to please his owners.
Once he gets to know and love you, he will become very obedient and regard you as a prize to be protected. As such, you can even trust him with small children – he’s great with them. He’s likewise very good with other dogs, and you needn’t worry that he will become too aggressive.
His preferred environment is indoors, and he can’t deal very well with low temperatures because of his lack of hair. However, he still enjoys the great outdoors and needs a moderate amount of daily exercise. In fact, running is one of his favorite activities, so if you have a bike or like to jog – bring the little fellow with you!
All that being said, you may ask yourself why these African dogs look so different from each other. However, since Africa is a huge continent with very different climates and environments, each breed has adapted to a specific place, not to mention the various interbreeding that occurred with dogs brought from Asia or Europe. But in the end, it’s the variety of breeds, shapes, colors and behaviors that makes all these dogs special!