African Dog Breeds
January 8, 2019
Despite the colossal size of the continent of Africa, there are only a few dog breeds which originate from there compared with the hundreds which come from Europe.
The African dog breeds tend to have a much longer history and their bloodlines have been preserved unlike with many European, American and Asian dog breeds.
Many people are surprised to see that almost each of the different breeds look totally different from each other. But, there is definitely no trend when it comes to breeds which originate from Africa. Which makes a lot of sense if you think about the size of Africa. It’s easy to underestimate the size of the continent when looking on a map, but by no exaggeration, you could fit America in there three times, or the whole United Kingdom 120 times. It might be a bit of a squeeze, but it would be possible to fit China, Japan, America and Europe in there.
As you’d expect from a region so large, there is a great variation in terms of landscape and climate. There are 54 separate nations in Africa some of which sit at high altitudes and some at low. Although when you think of Africa you think of a scorching hot paradise, the higher up regions can become very cold especially in the night time. The regions which sit closer to sea level are naturally hotter. So, the native dogs evolved to fit into their various environments.
Yet, while there haven’t been as many experiments with cross breeding as there has been in other continents, people have had a lot to do with the various forms that African dog breeds are found in. Typically, a dog is cross-bred until the specific qualities which the breeder is looking for starts to present in the breed.
The native African dogs were cross-bred with dogs which were brought into Africa by travellers and traders who brought dogs from as far as Europe. Through the cross-breeding, the new dogs in Africa were better able to adapt to the environment and perform helpful tasks. While the dogs which were introduced to Africa were used to hunting in their own homelands, none of them where quite cut out for hunting lions or guarding livestock against the dangerous predators.
Most of the dog breeds which come from Africa are placed into the group of Sight Hounds and were thought have been around since Ancient Egyptian times. African breeds were depicted in Egyptian Hieroglyphics in ancient tombs. Yet, recent DNA tests proved that the breeds aren’t as old as they were first believed to be. Only the Basenji was confirmed as true ancient breed although there are plenty of breeds which certainly resembled the breeds which were also found in Egyptian tombs.
Now that you have a better idea of the history of African dog breeds, we’ll run you through a comprehensive list of 10 dog breeds native to Africa.
10 African Dog Breeds
The Basenji is the oldest breed of African dog, its relatively small stature has made it a very popular pet in Africa along with their sweet nature, high intelligence and playful character. They tend to require a high level of attention and entertainment as they can become destructive if they are allowed to get bored. One more interesting fact about the Basenji is the fact that is fairly uncommon for them to bark.
The Boerboel originates from South Africa, but the history of the breed is a little uncertain. They are thought to be the result of crossbreeding a Mastiff which was brought to Africa by Dutch travellers with an undetermined native dog. Their way, what the natives can be sure of is that they are powerful dogs which can make for excellent guard dogs. If they are socialised and trained from an early age, it isn’t uncommon for them to make remarkable family pets as they often love their younger family members. Although they will require a large amount of space, so those with limited space to offer should find a smaller and less energetic breed.
Of all of the African dog breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is potentially the most famous. Although they look ferocious and powerful, they are also very playful animals and can make for great pets if introduced to an active household. The Breed was previously referred to as the African Lion Hounds, yet, now they are more commonly seen as pets even if they can be extremely stubborn and difficult to train. They are certainly not recommended for first time dog owners, but for those who know how to properly train the Rhodesian Ridgeback and have a lot of energy to burn, they can make for the perfect pets.
The Sloughi breed of African sighthound originally came from Libya, Tunisia, Algerian and Morocco. There are few breeds as graceful as the Sloughi which was obviously built to run and chase prey. African hunters utilised the speed of the Sloughi which is nicknamed as the “Arabian Greyhound” for chasing down wild pigs and gazelles. As pets, they will need a similar amount of exercise and opportunity to run. As pets, they tend to integrate well into the family home, and despite their speed, they can often prove to be fairly lazy and will get very attached to their owners.
The Azawakh is yet another member of the African Sighthound family which originally came from the Sahara and Sahel Zone. Historically, they were kept by nomads who were treated with as much respect as people – they took their job in the family home very seriously and proved to be a great guard dog. They also took hunting game very seriously. Both as pets and hunters the Azawakh proves to be very responsive to reward-based training.
Many are surprised to see the Chinese Crested featuring on this list given their name. Yet, despite what it would suggest, they originate from Africa’s large hairless dogs and they made their way over to China after they were established in Africa. Over the years their size reduced due to selective breeding which eventually resulted in the distinctively quirky appearance which they boast now. Personality wise, they are sweet natured, fun, playful and loving. They are also incredibly easy to train and introduce to the family home.
Coton De Tulear
The Coton De Tulear may resemble a Maltese, however, there is no connection between the two breeds. Their name is based on the region of Africa where they first originated – Tulear in Madagascar. They are as fluffy as they are playful and make for the perfect family pet, as long as you’re prepared to tackle their fluffy fur. Yet, their grooming needs are made up for due to their lack of need for excessive exercise. They also have one of the longest lifespans of all dog breeds with an average life expectancy of 16.
The Saluki can now be found all across the world and is recognised by its elegantly slim body and soft, luscious hair. Their stature isn’t too dissimilar to whippets and greyhounds, and they also require the same amount of exercise and mental stimulation. If Salukis are left to get bored, they can quickly become destructive, so, they are not recommended for people with busy lives They used to be the favoured breed of Kings who spent plenty of time looking after their dignified pets.
Technically, the Africanis isn’t a breed as such. Instead, ‘Africanis’ refers to a variety of dogs which are found in South Africa, although they may not be an ancient breed, they did share a time period with Neolithic Herdsmen from the Middle East. The Africanis dogs come with the inherent ability to guard both humans and livestock, making them the perfect watchdog for anyone looking for a vigilant pet.
The Aidi is also known as the Atlas Mountain Dog which originates from Morocco. Originally the tribespeople kept them around for their territorial nature. Yet, the Aidi breed still doesn’t make for the best family pet due to their ability to let their wild instincts take over and forget their training and socialisation. Yet, the Aidi is an attractive breed with their soft and thick coats.