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Chow Chow vs Basenji What’s the Difference

The Chow Chow and the Basenji are two dog breeds with hunting abilities. While the Chow Chow originated from China, the Basenji originated from Congo. 

Although they look nothing like each other, they do share some unique attributes that make them favored by homeowners. 

Chow Chow vs Basenji

A Chow Chow is a loud barker and dominant, on the other hand, a Basenji is social and makes little noise that they’re mostly termed “barkless.” 

In this guide, we will be making a close comparison between the Chow Chow and the Basenji. We will be looking at their history, appearance, personality, and activities they enjoy. 

At the end of the day, you should be able to figure out which dog will serve a greater purpose in your household. 

The Basenji

The basenji is a hunting dog that originated from Congo in Africa. These dogs are hypersensitive and use their sense of smell to hunt down the game.

In the present era, the use of the Basenji has changed. They’ve found their way into most homes and now make up for a lovely family pet adopted by first-timers. 

History of the Basenji

DNA study of the Basenji shows that it was initially a domestic breed and originated from the family of gray wolves.

Even though they’re generally believed to have originated from Congo, history shows that they were first seen as carved stoned on the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. 

However, in the real-life world, they were used as hunting dogs in the greater part of Congo, where they go by the nickname “village dog”. In the mid- 20th venture, this dog breed made its way into the United States and Europe, where their roles have been refined. 

While they’ve made their way into most homes as loving dogs, the basenji still has the traits that made it a hunting dog. They’re loving, sensitive, and affectionate to their master.

Like their ancestors, the modern basenji still goes into heat once a year. Their transition from hunting shows that this breed is highly adaptive and serves as a good first-timer dog, thanks to its gentle nature. 

Basenji Essence and character

A basenji is an affectionate yet conservative breed. It’s affectionate to familiar faces but a little conserved with strangers. This is no surprise, given their hunting origin and ability to be one step ahead.  

Basenji are clever but aren’t the most athletic breed. This means unlike large breeds such as the Rottweiler, a basenji isn’t good to train. To harness their hunting quality, you have to be patient.

For those who want their basenji to act as a guard dog at night, you might be a bit disappointed. This is because a basenji doesn’t make the loudest noise, rather, they depend on their sensitivity to fish out suspicious happenings. 

Like most home dogs, a basenji might require a bit of care from its owner. They love a good romp and enjoy games such as chase.

They might have lost their hunting skill, but they still love to put their pace to the test when needed. If well taken care of, a basenji can live for 13 years or more. 

Appearance of the Basenji

Appearance of the Basenji 
Appearance of the Basenji 

Basenji’s aren’t the largest dog breed. Their male stands at a max of 27 inches and puts on 24 pounds in weight.

Their females are shorter at 16 inches and 22 pounds, making a basenji small. The way to differentiate basenji from other dog breeds is by looking closely at their coats. 

Their coats are short and hardly fall off, and they also possess wrinkled foreheads and curled tails. Their eyes are expressive and convey a reasonable amount of emotion. Examining their almond-shaped eyes, you can tell if they’re scared, sad, or happy. 

The basenji has a lean frame but tends to be energetic thanks to their hunting drive. The breed is “barkless” and independent. However, this doesn’t mean they want to be alone all the time.  

Basenji Health and care

Basenjis are active and super healthy but might suffer certain health conditions if not properly taken care of. According to the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals, Basenji’s are prone to health conditions such as elbow and hip dysplasia, Von Willebrand’s disease, and hypothyroidism. 

Some breeds might also suffer from Fanconi syndrome. Fanconi syndrome is a kidney disease that prevents the processing of sugar and proteins. The dog suffers a deficiency in protein since most of it is passed out through his urine. 

For this reason, when getting a basenji from a breeder, it’s important that must-have run tests to confirm if the breed is suffering from any of these diseases. A standard breeder will show you the medical record of the dog and that of his parent. 

The Chow Chow

The Chow chow is one of few dogs which caught the attention of the Queen of England – Queen Victoria, during its early days in England. Although these dogs are now popular, they were originally used by the wealthy in England to guard their homes.

In the next few lines, you will find the information you need about the Chow Chow – this includes their place of origin, appearance, activities, and health needs. 

History of Chow Chow

History has it that the Chow Chows’ existence spanned back 2,000 years ago. Rumors have it they originally surfaced from Siberia, where they were used for herding and pulling. However, they were present in large numbers in China, especially around the trading port in Canton. 

In the 18th century, English merchants visiting China started including the Chow chow to protect their shipments being transported to England.

Upon their entrance into England, they were displayed in Zoos and immediately caught the eye of the Queen of England – Quern Victoria, who happens to be a dog lover. 

By the beginning of the 19th century, the Chow chow became a popular sight in England and was seen in the household of the wealthy. 

Chow Chow Essence and character

Chow chows are neither social nor outgoing, and they can be harsh with unfamiliar faces, including other dog breeds. This fits into the narrative that they’re guard dogs.

In their worst mood, Chow chows can become aggressive barkers. Hence, you should be prepared for one of these moments of “madness” if you’re thinking of getting one. 

Chow chows are trainable, but their compliance to training depends on their mood. They can be stubborn, thereby making it frustrating for their trainer. Generally, to train a Chow Chow, you need someone patient, experienced, and highly creative. 

Chow chows are adopted for their protective nature. They’re not family pets but to make them one, you need to get them to lower their guard through frequent socialization. It’s not a good idea to leave your kids in the care of s Chow Chow due to their aggressive nature. 

Appearance of the Chow Chow

Appearance of the Chow Chow 
Appearance of the Chow Chow 

A Chow Chow is a medium-sized breed, unlike the Basenji, which has a small frame. Their height ranges from 17-20 inches, and tends to put on a lot of weight. Ideally, 50 – 75 pounds. 

Chow chow has straight, powerful legs to help them support their weight. If you look closely, you will notice distinct features such as a curled tail, an erect ear, and a broad skull that resembles those of a bulldog.

Just like the basenji, they equally have facial wrinkles, but theirs is masked by their hair but still manages to give the dog a scowling face. 

The trait that’s unique to chow chows is their blue or black tongue. A chow can have either a rough or smooth coat, and those with rough coats are the most common, giving them a puppy-like appearance.

Those with smooth but short coats aren’t too common. But no matter the type of coat a chow chow has, they’re bound to possess a dense undercoat. The color of their coat ranges from red to black coloration. 

Activities with the Chow Chow

The dominant Chow Chow derives pleasure in running, hunting and herding. They can be trained for competitions, but you will need a patient trainer to do so.

Chow chows don’t enjoy being kept in chains, but due to their aggressive nature, most homeowners don’t have a choice but to do so when their kids are around. 

Due to their aggressive nature, most dog owners think Chow chows can survive anything thrown at them. Well, that isn’t true. It’s important not to expose a Chow chow to any psychically demanding activity until they’re older than 18 months.

It’s also recommended to meet a veterinarian to discover the amount of exercise your chow chow can cope with. 

Basenji Health and care

The Chow chow has an abundance of hair in addition to dense undercoats. Unfortunately, they’re also high shedders, so you need to use your brush most of the time.

In some seasons, you will need to brush this dog every day, while in others, twice or thrice a week will do. 

A Chow chow is a healthy breed and will remain in perfect condition if you give it the care it needs. However, conditions such as diarrhea, allergies, and digestive issues are common with a Chow chow.

It’s, therefore important to ensure the chow chow you’re getting from a breeder isn’t prone to any of these. 

Chow Chow vs Basenji Comparison Table

 Chow Chow Basenji 
Dog size Medium-sized (46-56cm) Large (41-43cm) 
Weight 25 to 32 kg, Female: 20 to 27 kg Male:  10 to 12 kg; 9 to 11 kg 
Function guard dog Barkless hunting dog 
Character balanced, loyal, vigilant, strong-willed Affectionate, quiet, loyal, sensitive 
Origin China Congo  
Life expectancy 9 to 15 years  10 to 13 years 
Colors Solid colors – Black, red, and cream Tan, black, tri-color, red, black, and white 
Chow Chow vs Basenji Comparison Table


At this point, you must have acquainted yourself with all the similarities and differences these dog breeds have.

You will get an aggressive, vigilant, and loyal breed with a chow chow. With a Basenji, you will have a calm dog that’s hypersensitive and alerted to danger. 

If what you want is a dog that won’t give you a lot of trouble, a basenji is the answer. However, if you don’t mind the headache that comes with raising a dog, provided they can provide you and your family a certain degree of security, a Chow chow is the answer.