From the vast landscapes of Africa come some remarkable dog breeds that captivate with their unique qualities and rich history. With a heritage deeply intertwined with the continent’s diverse cultures, these African dog breeds showcase striking physical characteristics, impressive skills, and unwavering loyalty.
“Many African dogs have adapted to the diverse climates and terrains of the continent, from dense forests to vast savannahs,” says Dr. Sabrina Kong, a veterinarian based in California. “Their histories are deeply intertwined with the cultures and communities they originated from, making them not just pets, but symbols of their native regions.”
Whether they originated as courageous hunters, devoted guardians, or beloved companions, these African dog breeds offer a fascinating glimpse into the richness and diversity of canine heritage.
What is Considered an African Dog Breed?
An African dog breed refers to a type of dog that originated from the continent of Africa. These breeds can be found in different parts of the world, not just in Africa. Some African dog breeds have deep roots in Africa and have been present there for thousands of years. Some breeds have also been introduced to other regions and have gained popularity globally.
“Not only are African dogs a testament to adaptability, but they also showcase a stunning array of features forged in an equally varied set of environments,” says Dr. Daisy May, MRCVS BVSc. “The genetic diversity is as vast as the African continent itself, encompassing every extreme from the thirst-quenching deserts to the rain-drenched jungles.”
Let’s take a closer look at twelve exotic dog breeds from Africa.
12 African Dog Breeds
With their distinctive physical features, such as sleek and hairless bodies, unusual coat patterns, or strikingly expressive eyes, African dog breeds stand out from other breeds, making them a source of fascination and admiration. Here are twelve dog breeds who originated in Africa.
Boerboel (South African Mastiff)
Boerboel dogs, also known as the South African Mastiff or African Mastiff, are a remarkable African breed known for their powerful build and imposing presence. Originating from South Africa, Boerboels have a rich breeding history as farm dogs. They were bred to be guardians and protectors, capable of defending livestock and their human companions from predators. As such, they possess a natural protective instinct and are incredibly loyal and devoted to their families. The South African Boerboel temperament is calm, confident, and steady, making them excellent family companions.
Boerboels are moderately active dogs that benefit from daily walks or play sessions. However, it’s important to note that they do not require intense exercise or long-distance running. A securely fenced yard is essential as they are known to be territorial and may try to protect their property. Boerboels have relatively low-maintenance coats. Regular brushing to remove loose hair and occasional baths are usually sufficient. However, it’s important to pay attention to their facial folds and keep them clean and dry to prevent infections. One of the most popular dog breeds from South Africa, Boerboels make wonderful companions for experienced dog owners who understand their needs and are committed to providing them with love, guidance, and a stable home environment.
Abyssinian Sand Terrier (African Hairless)
Abyssinian Sand Terriers, also known as African Naked Dogs or African Hairless Dogs, are a rare dog breed that originated in Africa. They have a unique appearance with a smooth, hairless body and wrinkly skin. Abyssinian Sand Terriers have a long history of breeding in Africa, where they were bred as working dogs. They were used as hunters, guard dogs, and were even used for pest control.
Abyssinian Sand Terriers are known for their loyalty and protective nature. They can be reserved around strangers but are usually relaxed and friendly with their families. Abyssinian Sand Terriers require regular physical activity to keep them happy and healthy, such as daily walks and playtime. However, they do need to be protected from extreme weather conditions since their hairless bodies are sensitive to temperature changes. Skincare is crucial, and regular bathing with mild, hypoallergenic shampoos and moisturizing is recommended. Since they are hairless, they can be prone to sunburn, so sunscreen application is necessary to prevent skin damage when outdoors.
The Pharaoh Hound is a striking and elegant breed that traces its roots back to ancient Egypt. They were initially used for hunting rabbits. However, they made their way to other countries and have gained popularity worldwide as devoted family pets. Pharaoh Hounds are known for their affectionate and gentle nature. They form strong bonds with their family members and can be reserved but not aggressive with strangers. These dogs are intelligent, trainable, and have a strong independent streak.
Pharaoh Hounds are active and energetic dogs that require regular exercise to keep them happy and healthy. They enjoy activities such as running, walking, and playing games. Mental stimulation through training or puzzle toys is also important to prevent boredom. Pharaoh Hounds have a short coat and they do not require a special diet. These dogs generally thrive in a loving and active household, where they receive plenty of attention and exercise.
Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs are a powerful and athletic breed known for their distinctive ridge of hair along their back. Originally bred in South Africa for lion hunting, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a rich and storied breeding history. They were developed by crossing various breeds, including European hunting dogs and native South African dogs, to create a versatile and courageous hunting companion. Despite their hunting origins, modern Ridgebacks are cherished family pets known for their gentle and affectionate temperament.
Due to their hunting background, Ridgebacks are an active breed that requires regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. They thrive with daily walks, playtime, and opportunities for running off-leash in a secure environment. Ridgebacks have a short coat that is relatively low maintenance, and they require a high-quality, balanced diet that helps maintain their weight.
Africanis dogs are a type of dog breed indigenous to Africa, known for their natural adaptability, resilience, and independence. Africanis dogs originated as street and village dogs found throughout the African continent, where they evolved as a result of natural selection and interbreeding between indigenous dogs and European breeds. Today, they are recognized as a distinctive breed in South Africa and are becoming increasingly popular as both pets and working dogs for their versatility, agility, and loyalty.
Africanis dogs are known for their social, loyal, and affectionate disposition. They are intelligent and adaptable, able to adjust to changing environments and situations with ease. Despite their independent streak, they are very trainable and bond strongly with their owners. Africanis dogs need regular exercise to stay healthy and happy. They require minimal maintenance, and their short coats do not require special attention. Africanis dogs require a nutritionally balanced diet that meets their individual needs, as obesity can be a concern.
Originating from Central Africa, Basenjis are one of the oldest dog breeds, with a rich breeding history dating back thousands of years. They were highly regarded by ancient civilizations as hunting dogs, particularly known for their exceptional tracking skills and ability to flush out small game. Today, they are beloved companions known for their intelligence, curiosity, and independent nature.
“The Basenji is often called the barkless dog due to its unique yodel-like sound, known as a barroo,” says Dr. Kong. Basenji dogs have a reputation for being cat-like in their behavior, as they are known to groom themselves and even climb on furniture. As self-groomers, they are known for their cleanliness and lack of dog smell. They are alert, energetic, and can be reserved with strangers, but form strong bonds with their family. They are often described as both loyal and reserved, possessing a sense of self-reliance and an independent streak. Basenjis are a high-energy breed that benefit from daily walks, playtime, and opportunities to run in safe, enclosed areas.
The Aidi, also known as the Moroccan Atlas Shepherd Dog, originates from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco. Aidi dogs have a long breeding history and were traditionally used by the Berber tribes as herding and guarding dogs. They are known for their strong protective instincts and loyalty towards their families. Aidi dogs are alert, confident, and courageous, making them excellent guard dogs. They are typically reserved and standoffish with strangers but bond deeply with their owners.
Aidi dogs are loyal and protective companions that require an active lifestyle and regular grooming. They enjoy long walks, hikes, and engaging in interactive play sessions. Aidi dogs have a dense double coat that needs regular brushing to prevent matting and to keep their fur in good condition. They shed seasonally, and during that time, more frequent brushing may be necessary to manage the shedding.
Salukis have a long and rich breeding history, dating back thousands of years in the Middle East. They were treasured by ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Persians, who considered them to be noble and sacred dogs. Salukis were primarily used for hunting game in the desert, showcasing their incredible speed, endurance, and agility. Salukis are gentle, sensitive, and have a calm and reserved nature. Often described as independent and aloof, they may be cool with strangers but are typically devoted to their families.
Salukis have a strong hunting instinct, and caution should be taken when keeping them around small animals due to their prey drive. Exercise is crucial for Salukis as they are bred for speed and endurance. They enjoy regular opportunities to stretch their legs in a safe and securely fenced area. Their short, smooth coat requires minimal brushing to remove loose hair and prevent matting. Salukis are generally clean dogs and have little to no dog odor.
Armant dogs, also known as Egyptian Sheepdogs or Egyptian Greyhounds, have a long history in Egypt, believed to be one of the oldest indigenous breeds of the region. They were primarily used as herding dogs and guardians of livestock. In ancient times, they were highly valued for their intelligence, loyalty, and versatility in various working roles.
Armant dogs are known today for their affection towards their families. They are typically gentle, friendly, and tolerant, making them great companions. They have a strong protective instinct and can be somewhat unfriendly with strangers. Armant dogs have high energy levels and require daily walks, playtime, and opportunities to run in a secure and enclosed space. Armant coats are relatively low maintenance and require regular brushing to keep clean and remove loose hairs.
Coton de Tulear
Coton de Tulear dogs are named after the city of Tulear in Madagascar, where they were originally bred. They were favored by the royal families and nobility of Madagascar as loving companions. These dogs were treasured for their friendly and sociable nature. Coton de Tulears are affectionate, playful, and highly sociable. They enjoy being part of the family and are known for their happy and clownish personalities. They are typically great with children and get along well with other pets, making them excellent family dogs.
Coton de Tulears are recognized for their adaptability to different environments and are often described as highly trainable. They enjoy daily walks and playtime but do not require intense or vigorous exercise. Grooming is an important aspect of caring for Coton de Tulear dogs due to their unique coat. They require regular brushing to prevent matting and tangling of their hair. Regular bathing is also necessary to keep their white coat clean and free from staining. One of the most popular originating from Africa dog breeds, Coton de Tulear dogs can bring joy and laughter to their families with their happy and affectionate nature.
Azawakh dogs originated in West Africa, specifically in the Sahara and Sahel regions, where they were primarily bred for hunting purposes. They were valued for their speed, stamina, and courage, excelling in tracking and coursing game such as hares, gazelles, and antelopes. Azawakh are known for being independent, reserved, and somewhat distant. They are loyal to their families but may be wary of strangers.
Azawakh dogs also have a strong prey drive and should be kept in a securely fenced area. Exercise is essential for Azawakh dogs as they are sighthounds bred for speed and agility. Grooming for Azawakh dogs is relatively low maintenance as their short coat requires minimal brushing to remove loose hair and dirt.
Sloughi dogs are a breed with ancient origins, hailing from Morocco. They have a long history as prized hunting companions, known for their speed, agility, and endurance. Sloughis were highly valued by nomadic tribes for their ability to track down and capture game such as desert hares, gazelles, or foxes.
Sloughis are known for their reserved and dignified nature. They are generally gentle and affectionate, forming strong bonds with their loved ones. Activity is essential for Sloughis as they are sighthounds bred for speed and endurance. Off-leash exercise in an enclosed space is ideal for them to fully utilize their athletic abilities. Sloughi coats require minimal brushing to remove loose hair and maintain their sleek appearance.
African Dog Breed Care Tips
Before taking on the responsibility of an African dog breed, there are several factors to consider. African dogs may require a high-quality, nutrient-rich diet to support their energy levels and overall health. Their living space should be suitable for the size and activity level of the dog. African dogs tend to be medium to large in size, so ample space to move around and play is essential. They may not be suitable for small apartments or homes with limited outdoor areas.
Exercise is another important consideration. African dogs are typically active and energetic, requiring regular exercise to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. They may benefit from daily walks, runs, or other activities that cater to their high energy levels. Additionally, African dog pet parents should be prepared for the time and effort required for training and socialization. Consistency and patience are key when working with these intelligent and independent dogs.
Taking all these factors into consideration will ensure that you can meet the needs of an African dog breed and provide them with a loving and suitable home.
African Dog Breed Training Tips
Training African dog breeds can be a rewarding experience. These dogs are highly intelligent, independent, and can have a strong prey drive. When training African dogs, it is important to establish clear boundaries and consistent rules from a young age.
Positive reinforcement methods work best with these intelligent dogs, providing treats, praise, and rewards for desired behaviors.
Due to their independent nature, African dog breeds may require patient and persistent training efforts. Socialization is crucial, exposing them to various environments, people, and other animals to help them become well-rounded and confident.
Regular mental stimulation and challenging activities like scent work or agility training can help channel their energy and keep them engaged. With proper training and socialization, African dog breeds will become well-behaved and loyal companions.