Basenji vs Shiba Inu What’s the Difference

Basenji vs Shiba Inu

People commonly mistake these two breeds of dog, Mainly because they do look alike. They are both hunting dogs and they could also serve as pets. Although these dogs are not for inexperienced dog owners.  

Choosing between the two could be tricky. In this article, you will find out what is common between these two, their characteristics, health, and other criteria. This will aid you in making the right decision based on your preference.  

Basenji Dog

This dog breed is a native of central Africa. They are cute, with their short and fine hair, and can be great-loving pets. Basenji are purebred dogs, although they can be found in shelters too.  

History of the Basenji

Basenjis are a very old breed of dog that still exists. Tracing back to the origin of this species, they originated from Africa.

They were found with the Pygmies, in the country now known as the Republic of Congo.  Basenji-like paintings have been found in old caves in Libya dating back as early as 6000 BC.  

They were able to survive so long in Africa because they were very good hunting dogs (they still are) and served their masters well. Basenjis are independent dogs who can think on their own. They help drive games into nets and help their masters with other useful skills they possess.   

Egyptians are known to be the oldest dog breeders in the world. One theory is that the Basenji was created from the crossbreed of dogs and jackals  

Basenji-like dogs were first seen in Europe in 1880, they were referred to as the Congo Terriers. Although they turned out not to be the ideal Basenji.  

In 1936, Mrs. Olivia Burns was able to import Basenjis into England and started breeding them.  

Basenji Physical Characteristics

Basenjis have short hair that is fine in texture, long legs, and tightly curled tails complimenting their square-shaped body. Their ears are large and erect. They have expressive almond-shaped dark brown eyes. 

Their forehead is tightly wrinkled when they are alert.  They are described to have cat-like features as they tend to groom themselves and require little maintenance.

You can brush and groom them weekly. They do not like being wet, so bathe them only when they are exceptionally dirty.  

Its size ranges from 41 – 43 cm for the male, and 38 – 41 cm for the female.  

The weight ranges from 10 – 12 kg for the male, and from 9 – 11 kg for the female.  

Although they are not tall animals, the male species are usually larger than the female.  

They come in different colors: black, red, tricolor, and brindle. Regardless of their color, they always have a white chest and mostly white legs. 

Basenji Character

Basenji Character 
Basenji Character 

The basenji is very affectionate and loyal to its master but not so much to strangers. They are bred for long hunts, this makes them energetic, intelligent, and independent thinkers. They can sometimes climb trees and fences due to their cat-like nature.  

Basenji can be stubborn, showing some mischievous personalities. This is because they are independent thinkers and are very clever. They might require early training and it is advisable for their owners to have previous experience with dogs.  

They are not really used as guard dogs because of their small stature, but they would surely alert their masters in case of an intrusion.

They are sometimes referred to as “yodeling Basenjis” because they do not bark. Rather they make some odd yodeling sound to make their feelings known.  

Basenji Health

Basenji is a healthy dog breed although it can be prone to some health disorders such as hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, and canine hip dysplasia.

Gene test can be carried out by breeders to determine dogs that are carriers of Fanconi syndrome, a kidney disorder, or PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) 

Their ears should be checked and their teeth brushed often. They have a lifespan of 10 – 12 years.  

Shiba Inu Dog

Shiba Inu has its origin rooted in Japan and is one of the six original dog breeds from Japan. With its small and agile nature, this furry animal can to cope very well with mountainous terrain. It was bred for hunting.

It has a rather muscular physique and a bold, confident personality. These, coupled with its coloring make it look almost foxlike.  

Origins and History of the Shiba Inu

Shiba Inu is a native dog to Japan. It is said to have originated about 3,000 years ago and there are so many theories surrounding its name. Shiba loosely translates to brushwood in Japanese and inu translates to “dog”.

Some of the name theories include that the name might mean “dog that hunts in brushwood bushes” or might have something to do with the color of the brushwood looking like that of the dog.  The name was coined in the year 1920s.  

It is commonly mistaken for the Akita Inu breed although Shiba Inu has its own distinct bloodline. This dog breed is one of the six distinct Japanese breeds namely: Shiba Inu, Shikoku, Kai, Hokkaido, Kishu, Akita Inu.  

The Shiba Inu was purely bred for hunting. They were used for hunting wild boar, deer, and small games. Today, Shiba Inu is a companion animal although it still possesses its hunting trait. 

As the official dog of Japan, the Shiba Inu is recognized in Japan and throughout the world. Its breed was declared a national treasure in 1936. 

This dog breed suffered quite the occurrence during world war II when many of these dogs and other dogs died from bombings. Quite a number of them were also affected by the Distemper outbreak after the bombings ceased.  

It was introduced to the United States in the 1950s and has since then risen to popularity in the United States. Currently sitting as the 44th most popular AKC breed in 2016. 

Shiba Inu Physical Characteristics

Shiba Inu Physical Characteristics
Shiba Inu Physical Characteristics

It has a compact body covered with a short double coat. The coat has an outer coat of straight hair and an inner coat made of soft and thick hair. Due to its double coat, grooming may have to be regular.

The coat has varying colors: red, brown, white or cream, black, and sesame. However, they all have white or cream fur covering their lower parts.  

The head is round and it has a short and pointy snout that looks like that of a fox. It also has a broad neck, a straight back, and a long-curled tail with hair longer than the ones on its body. It has black triangular eyes, a black nose, and straight, triangular ears covered in fur.  

Shiba Inu is a very strong, agile dog with strong legs capable of making fast movements and jumping very high. Owners should consider getting a bigger fence if there isn’t one. It is also incredibly smart and has a good memory.  

Its height ranges from 35 – 43 cm for the male, and 33 – 41 cm for the female.  

The weight ranges from 9 – 11 kg for the male, and from 7 – 9 kg for the female.  

Shiba Inu character

Shiba Inu is a very active dog and has a lot of energy to expend. It needs to be put in a place where it can play and run around.

It is very bold, alert, intelligent, independent, and can be quite stubborn, so it might be difficult to take them through obedience training.  Due to their strong drive, they can be aggressive towards other dogs and might endanger other smaller animals.  

Shibas are generally great human companions. They tend to be affectionate towards their owners although the same cannot be said for strangers. This makes them very excellent watchdogs.  

They are clean dogs and can handle themselves pretty well. So, they tend to put up a fight when you try to take care of them. Due to their very stubborn nature, they need to be handled with patience  

Shibas are known for their scream, they do this whenever they are emotional, and sometimes, they do not need a reason.  

Shiba Inu health

This breed is quite healthy, although it may be susceptible to allergies and cataracts. Here are some other major health issues to look out for in this breed: Patellar luxation, Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD), distichiasis, Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). They have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years. 

Basenji vs Shiba Inu Comparison Table

 Basenji Shiba Inu 
Other names  Congo Terrier, African Bush Dog, African Barkless Dog, Zande Dog Brushwood Dog, Japanese Shiba Inu, Japanese Small-Size Dog. 
Origin Congo Japan 
Dog type Hunting Dog Hunting Dog 
Size  41 – 43 cm for the male, and 38 – 41 cm for the female.  35 – 43 cm for the male, and 33 – 41 cm for the female 
Weight  10 – 12 kg for the male, and from 9 – 11 kg for the female.  9 – 11 kg for the male, and from 7 – 9 kg for the female.   
Coat Fine Dense (Double Coat) 
Life expectancy  10 – 12 years 12 – 15years 
Basenji vs Shiba Inu Comparison Table


The basenji is a cute-looking dog with a square-shaped body and almond-shaped eyes. It should be noted that this dog breed can only have a litter once a year, having more than this is not advisable.  

The Shiba Inu, although cute and affectionate needs a patient owner due to its aggressive nature. Leaving this dog around little kids might be tricky and might need monitoring.