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African Dog Breeds: 11 Canines That Come From Africa

Looking for a list of African dog breeds to help you find your next family friend? This guide looks at all our favorite pups that come from Africa.

Emma Braby

Last Updated: July 22, 2020 | 10 min read

South African Boerboel

Are you looking for an African dog breed to stand out from the crowd? From tiny to giant, fluffy to hairless, here are 11 African dog breeds that are all gorgeous in their own way.

When most people think of Africa, they think safari, wild animals, deserts, fantastic BBQ, and scorching heat. Africa’s native dog breeds rarely come into the list, but Africa has a handful of dog breed variety on offer. From 8 pounds to 200 pounds, each of these African dog breeds are different, but equally beautiful both inside and out.

So, whether you miss the African dog breeds that you grew up with as a kid, or you fancy something different from the all-time American favorites, there is something here for everyone. We will go through each one, complete with pictures so that you can put a name to a face. Sit back, relax, and join us on our dog breed safari!

Basenji

Basenji in Field
The Basenji is one of the more famous African Dog Breeds.

The Basenji is a small-sized dog, who is one of the three most famous African dog breeds. He measures 16 to 17 inches tall, and he weighs 22 to 24 pounds. They have a short and shimmery coat that takes black, tan, brindle or red coloring all mixed with white. He has large ears that always stand to attention, and eyebrow crinkles frame his almond-shaped eyes.

The Basenji is known as Africa’s barkless dog. Instead, he communicates with his loved one through a sound that can only be described as yodeling. Many describe the Basenji as more feline than canine. He is meticulous, and grooms himself much like a cat does. He is described as independent, smart, and poised, and he loves to snuggle with the younger members of his family.

Basenjis are very energetic dogs who is a rabbit hunter by trade and needs an active family. He descends from the Congo, which is why he is also known as the Congo Terrier. He is one of the oldest dog breeds on the planet, and he was given as a gift to Egyptian Pharaohs. According to Basenji lovers, once you’ve owned a Basenji, you’ll be dedicated to this breed for life.


Boerboel

Boerboel in Grass
The Boerboel is an African Dog that descends from the Molosser.

The Boerboel (pronounced buor-bul) is Africa’s big lion dog, bred to protect South African homesteads from wild and ferocious predators. Boerboels can take a lion down if he needs to protect his family and estate. He stands up to 27 inches tall and weighs anywhere from 150 to 200 pounds. With a powerful jaw, muscles on his muscles, you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of him. He comes from the Molosser line of dogs. This means he shares his lineage with the Cane Corso, all breeds of Pitbulls, the Caucasian Shepherd, and countless others.

But, with his family, he is devoted and loving. He is a gentle giant, super sweet, and is known to have a fondness for children. His big canine charm, combined with his trainability and obedience, has made him successful as a therapy dog too. He likes to snooze outdoors with one eye open, making sure that there is no danger around.

Because of his incredible power, Boerboels are often found on dangerous breed lists across the world. So, if you are adopting a Boerboel into your home, you need to check out your local laws first. You can be sure that no one is going to mess you with you or your family with this gorgeous boy around. But you have to be a firm pack leader that will keep him in line.


Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback Outdoors
Ridgebacks are fearless, and were originally bred to fight lions.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is from Zimbabwe, which was previously known as Rhodesia. He was formerly known as the African Lion Dog because he was great at confronting lions and scaring them away from his master. Ridgebacks left the ranks to find that evening’s dinner, and antelope was his favorite choice of meat. He is an energetic pooch that needs lots of exercise to keep him happy.

He is a large dog who weighs between 70 and 85 pounds and measures 24 to 27 inches tall. His most distinctive feature is his famous ridge running down the length of his spine – stiff hair that runs in a different direction to the rest of his coat. His long floppy ears and large round eyes give him a cute appearance. He is very popular, and many Ridgeback mixes like the Rhodesian Retriever are becoming popular too.

Despite his formidable and serious-looking appearance, he is an affectionate and even-tempered dog who loves to snuggle with his family in the evening. He is aloof with strangers, and he is protective of his family. He is a dominant dog who has a strong-willed character, and he needs an equally strong-willed master.


Africanis

Africanis Dog
The Africanis is a very reliable hunting dog that originates from Africa.

The Africanis is an umbrella name for all the native dogs of South Africa. Before the 1990s, Africanis were viewed as feral mongrels. The Africanis Society has put in much effort into the reputation of these dogs, tirelessly working with locals. Although they still aren’t that popular, many African families are coming to know and respect them.

They are medium to large size dogs, who usually weigh between 50 and 100 pounds. They have a short coat that only needs a brush once a week. Being a wild dog breed who varies from place to place, their appearance varies more than most, and there is no breed standard. But they generally have big ears, long legs, and a deep chest, and they are compelling looking dogs for sure.

They are resourceful hunting dogs, and if you are lucky enough to own one, you need to understand that he will be a hunting dog by nature. This means being on a leash at all times and no non-dog family pets. Being an independent street dog, these dogs are not overly affectionate, and they will need their space. They are very rare outside of Africa.


Aidi

Aidi Dog in Field
The Aidi dog breed originates from Morocco.

The Aidi hails from North Africa, namely the Atlas mountains, where he protects flocks of sheep. He is not a herding dog, though. Instead, he stands guard and barks as loud as he can when he senses danger, warning the flock to run. The Aidi makes a fantastic watchdog, so if you are looking for a canine alarm system, look no further.

Many African families will keep Aidis as hunting dogs, along with the next dog on this list, the Sloughi. Their combined skills make them a great hunting team who provide many family meals. Aidis are medium-sized dogs who weigh between 50 and 60 pounds. Unlike many other African dog breeds, he has a thick and fluffy double coat to keep him warm in the mountains. It needs brushing every other day.

The Aidi is a fiercely protective dog if he needs to be. But at the same time, he is also quite sensitive and doesn’t like being told off harshly or left alone for too long. He needs a considerate family who can exercise him a lot and keep him company for most of the day.


Sloughi

Sloughi Dog
Tall and Skinny, the Sloughi reminds many people of the Greyhound.

The Sloughi is in the top 200 most popular dog breeds in America, which shows just how rare he is. But in North Africa, mainly in the mountainous areas of Morocco, he is very popular. He is a sighthound, and he looks and acts very similar to the better known Greyhound. Which is why he is also known as the Arabian Greyhound.

He measures up to 29 inches and weighs between 45 and 70 pounds. His is a leggy and skinny canine, but one with powerful muscles to catch his prey. He has a long and slinky tail that curls up at the end. His chest is deep, and his face is long, and he carries himself with pride and grace.

He needs a lot of exercise, preferably intense, to burn up his explosive energy. Because of his high prey drive, you should always keep him on a leash. In the home, he is sweet, loving, and graceful, and is super affectionate with his family.


Azawakh

Azawakh Dog
Another tall and skinny African breed, the Azawakh is beautiful and is quite rare.

The Azawakh is even rarer than the Sloughi in America, and he is the most unusual dog breed in America in terms of popularity. Just like the Sloughi, this lean boy is also a fantastic sighthound who has been chasing gazelle across the Sahara desert for thousands of years. Again, if you are lucky enough to welcome this boy into your life, be sure to keep him on a leash.

In the home, he is sweet and deeply affectionate, meaning if you are after a companion dog, the Azawakh fits the bill. He is loyal but independent and can be stubborn to train. He is fun and playful with his family, but is mainly shy around strangers. The name Azawakh translates to ‘sighthound of the free people’, and he is very popular in his home town.

He looks a lot like the Sloughi, and although he is the same height, he weighs much less at 35 to 55 pounds. He is naturally super skinny, so don’t worry about his weight too much. His most popular color is brindle and white with other earthy tones such as brown, sandy, and red. His ears are always floppy, and they make up the length of his cute face.


Pharaoh Hound

Pharaoh Hound
Pharaoh Hounds are extremely rare, and were used by Egyptian Royalty.

The Pharaoh Hound is another rare dog breed in America, but he is a little more popular than the Sloughi and the Azawakh. He first came to America in the 1970s. He originates from Egypt, and he was the Pharaoh’s pooch of choice. Pharaoh Hounds are one of the oldest domesticated dogs in history. Despite his name, the ‘blushing dog of Malta’, he is not from Malta.

He is a medium-sized dog who measures 21 to 25 inches tall and weighs between 45 and 55 pounds. Just like many dogs on this list, he has larger-than-life ears that look far too big for his head, but this adds to his noble charm. His coat is short and sports red or golden hues. He requires little grooming, and he is generally easy to care for.

He is an elegant dog, but don’t underestimate his strength. Pharaoh hounds are bred to relentlessly chase prey in punishing environments and does not give up until he has won. They are friendly and make fantastic companion dogs. The Pharaoh hound is a sociable and fun-loving dog who enjoys clowning around with his family. He is very easy-going, and so he doesn’t make a great guard dog. They do not like to be left alone for longer periods of time.


Coton De Tulear

Coton De Tulear
The Coton De Tulear comes from Madagascar.

The Coton De Tulear hails from the island of Madagascar, which sits 250 miles off the coast of East Africa. He was first a feral dog on the island, who then fell into the local aristocrat’s laps. Ever since then, he has lived a life of luxury, but unlike other spoilt dogs, he is very undemanding. He is a tough little cookie who has a very long life expectancy between 15 and 19 years on average.

He has a voluminous white coat that is as soft as cotton, and he hails from the Madagascan port of Tulear, hence his name. Coton De Tulear’s stand 9 to 11 inches tall and weighs only 8 to 15 pounds (most of that being his coat). Despite being small, he is robust and sturdy, different from similarly-sized delicate dogs. His long white fringe has to be tied back to see his cheeky grin and big button eyes.

He has a comical personality and loves to frolic around with his master. Tulears are friendly with their human family but will hold a special place in his heart for his main master. He is so lovely that the people of Madagascar kept him a closely guarded secret, and it wasn’t until the 1960s that he left the island. He is also a hypoallergenic dog, despite his fluffy coat.


Chinese Crested Dog

Chinese Crested Dog
The Chinese Crested dog is actually from Africa, not from China.

Contrary to popular belief, the Chinese Crested Dog is not from China. He originates from Africa, and he traveled to China, where his breed standard was refined. It is thought that he is a descendant of the Abyssinian Sand Terrier, hence his mostly hairless body. He is also known as the Chinese Ship Dog, because he is a fantastic ratter who exterminated the disease-carrying vermin on board.

He is a small-sized pooch who weighs 8 to 13 pounds and measures 11 to 13 inches tall. The majority of his body is hairless, with only the crown of his head, neck, legs, and tail bearing hair. His peculiar appearance has also lent him to the name, the Dr. Seuss Dog. As he resembles the characters in the famous stories.

He is a little pocket rocket, and full of life, much to the amusement of his owners. The Chinese Crested is an affectionate little pup who loves to snuggle with his family on the sofa. He is also a hypoallergenic dog, making him an excellent option for African dog breed lovers who suffer from slight dog allergies.


Armant

Armant Dog
The Armant is a rare Egyptian Shepherd dog.

The Armant is also known as the Egyptian Sheepdog, and he is Africa’s herding dog of choice. He is one of the youngest dog breeds on this list, born around the period of the 20th century. The Armant is tough and will guard his flock with his life, and the same goes for his human family.

He measures 21 to 23 inches tall, and he weighs between 50 and 65 pounds. He has a coarse and medium-length coat that needs brushing 2 to 3 times a week to prevent matting. His coat is either black, gray, and fawn, and he has cute forever-puppy eyes that will melt the hardest of hearts. The Armant is Africa’s teddy-bear dog.

He is a very active pooch who needs to be worked hard to make sure that he burns off that high energy of his. If you aren’t planning to work him, he needs at least 1 hour of vigorous exercise every day. He likes the company of other dogs and is especially fond of children, taking care of them as if they were his flock.


Final Thoughts

So now, when you think about Africa, you will also think about these unique dogs and what they have to offer. From little to large, skinny to muscular, bald to fluffy, there is something here to tickle everyone’s fancy. Hopefully, we have broadened your canine knowledge, too, and introduced you to a handful of these gorgeous dog breeds.

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