11 Dog Breeds From Africa That You Will Fall in Love With

The second-largest continent in the world, Africa, is renowned for its diverse mineral resources and spectacular landforms.

However, African wildlife is what fascinates tourists the most, making it the most popular destination for safaris.

The stunning elephants, leopards, lions, and zebras are the main attractions, but what is truly impressive about the continent is the distinctiveness of its dogs.

Most dog breeds from Africa are resilient, intelligent, and have incredible hunting instincts.

Although you may think you’ve never seen them before, you will surely be able to recognize some of them.

An Endangered Species – the African Wild Dog

African Wild dog posing

Before we talk about the dog breeds which can make wonderful pets, let’s discuss the largest canines living in Africa.

This type of dog is probably what you instinctively think about when you hear the words “African dogs”.

Also known as Cape hunting dogs, African wild dogs are currently an endangered species.

This is because they are often killed by farmers who try to protect their livestock, but there’s more to the story.

Habitat loss and contagious illnesses which are specific to domestic dogs (such as canine distemper) also threaten the existence of these beautiful animals.

In terms of appearance, African wild dogs have unique mottled coats and large, rounded ears.

Their spots are usually brown, black, yellow, and white, and their placement helps the dogs recognize each other.

This is very important, as African wild dogs have tight social bonds and strongly rely on their packs.

They normally communicate through actions, touch, and vocalizations, and make various sounds which are not specific to common dog breeds.

Living in packs of 2-20 members or more, African wild dogs always make sure that their puppies are the first ones to receive food.

Since their jaws are not very powerful, they usually hunt large animals in packs.

Luckily, these “painted wolves” have been able to survive because they have incredible cooperation skills and are very intelligent.

Due to their scarcity, you would have to be extremely lucky to spot a pack of African wild dogs during a safari.

Since they cannot be domesticated, it would be your only chance to see them in real life. 

Dog Breeds From Africa: Looking for the Perfect Pet

Many wonderful dog breeds have their roots in Africa.

While most of them require an active lifestyle and a spacious home, some could be the perfect choice for people who want a more peaceful kind of life.

Regardless of the category you fit in, check out the list below and see if you can find your dream pet!

1. Saluki

Portrait of a Saluki dog

Height: 58–71 cm
Weight: 16–32 kg
Lifespan: 12–14 years
Appearance: Long legs, deep chest, drop ears, long head, silky coat

Salukis were developed from sighthounds, which means that they hunt by sight rather than by scent or sound.

They are difficult to train and normally can’t be trusted off-leash, but they’re very quiet and reserved as adults.

One of the most important aspects of owning a Saluki is the environment you have to provide – Salukis are energetic dogs and they were bred to hunt, so apartment life does not suit them well.

However, if you have a yard, keep in mind that Salukis are chasers. If they see a squirrel or anything that may catch their attention, they will probably run after it.

To make sure nothing happens, it’s usually best to have a tall fence. Allowing them to sleep inside during the night can also help them stay safe.

Even though they don’t display it often, Saluki dogs are very affectionate with their families. They are loyal, easy to groom, and highly intelligent.

However, they require a lot of your time - if Salukis are left home alone for too long, they can become visibly distressed.

Before deciding to get a Saluki dog, you need to know that they are a high maintenance breed.

They have to receive the right amount of attention, to be trained and exercised properly, and to be handled with care.

If you’re ready to take on such a responsibility, you will have a gentle, trustworthy companion by your side. 

2. Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog sitting on grass

Height: 61–66 cm (female) / 64–69 cm (male)
Weight: 32 kg (female) / 40 kg (male)
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Appearance: muscular, short glossy coat, with a ridge of hair grown along the back in the opposite direction from the rest of their coat

A beautiful dog with an athletic build, the Rhodesian Ridgeback loves to exercise. In Africa, this breed was originally trained to hunt big animals, such as lions and bears.

To be able to take care of such a pet, you need to have an active lifestyle.

Whether it’s running, hiking, or walking, you need to find at least one activity that could keep your dog busy every day.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are extremely energetic, so they should not be left indoors for too long.
Since they are very intelligent and strong, they’re not the best option for first-time pet owners.

However, if you have the time and financial resources to take care of a Rhodesian Ridgeback, they will truly change your life.

They are loving creatures, and they can be great with children. If you have or want other pets, Rhodesian Ridgebacks can accept them, as long as you raise them together.

They make great guardians and they’re not known for being loud either. When a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog is noisy, it’s usually worth investigating.

In terms of drawbacks, this breed can sometimes become destructive.

You will have to be firm whenever you’re together in public, as they may become hostile towards other male dogs or unfamiliar animals.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be wonderful pets, but they need an experienced owner who knows how to train them properly. 

3. Boerboel

Boerboel dog breed

Height: 59-65 cm (female) / 64-70 cm (male)
Weight: 55-73 kg (female) / 60-79 kg (male)
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Appearance: mastiff-type, muscular, short coat, black mask

Boerboel dogs were used to be raised in certain areas of South Africa to protect their families and their farms.

Historical sources suggest that they were also used for hunting baboons and leopards. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Boerboels have a dominant nature.

As much as they are obedient, they are also natural leaders, so they need to be handled by a firm, experienced owner.

This breed is very protective, so early socialization is crucial. Otherwise, they could become dangerous whenever they interact with strangers or with other dogs.

Due to their size and temperament, Boerboels need space to move freely. If you live in an apartment, you should definitely choose another breed.

These dogs don’t enjoy being alone for too long, so busy schedules are not compatible with Boerboels.

If you decide to get one, keep in mind that mental stimulation is also very important for them.

Boerboel dogs function best when they have something to do, especially if it also involves exercising.

When it comes to children, Boerboels can even be therapy dogs.

However, it would be best to supervise them around small children – due to their size, these dogs could accidentally hurt them.

If you’ve owned pets before and you have the necessary time to train and socialize a new one, there’s a great chance you could handle a Boerboel. 

4. Basenji

Height: 38-41 cm (female) / 41-43 cm (male)
Weight: 9-11 kg (female) / 10-12 kg (male)
Lifespan: 12-16 years
Appearance: Curled tail, almond-shaped eyes, wrinkled forehead

Basenjis were originally bred in Africa as hunting dogs. Their job was to spot the prey and lure it into carefully laid nets.

Due to their small size, they had to rely on their cleverness rather than physical strength.
Innocent and adorable at first sight, the Basenji is a mischievous and highly intelligent dog.

If you care about your possessions, definitely don’t get one! These dogs are the perfect pets only for people with a great sense of humor and even greater patience.

Given how stubborn and challenging Basenjis can be, you really need to make sure that this is the dog you want. Regular exercise is mandatory and you can’t leave them alone for too long.

On the bright side, they’re rather quiet, and they spend a lot of time licking and grooming their coat.

This means you’ll be able to keep your pet clean and properly groomed with a minimum amount of effort.

However, they’re not so well-behaved around smaller animals or strangers. If you don’t socialize them while they’re young, you’ll have a hard time once they become adults.

Even so, raising a Basenji can be amazing! They make the cutest sounds and they’re affectionate and devoted to their families.

Because they’re also great watchdogs, they will always alert you when something happens. All in all, this breed can be quite challenging, but a Basenji sure is fun to be around. 

5. Coton De Tulear

Coton De Tulear dog sitting on grass

Height: 22–27 cm (female) / 25–30 cm (male)
Weight: 3.5–5 kg (female) / 4–6 kg (male)
Lifespan: 14–16 years
Appearance: White cotton-like coat, short legs

Although most dog breeds from Africa were originally trained for hunting, Coton de Tulear dogs were always meant to be companions.

Small and adorable, this breed is very easy to get along with. If you’re looking for a friendly pet that could live in any environment, the Coton de Tulear may be the perfect choice for you.

These long-haired dogs might seem high-maintenance at first, but their coat is actually easy to groom and clean.

As a matter of fact, things are rarely difficult with them! Training, travelling, meeting new people or animals, all of these can be accomplished easily with a Coton de Tulear.

And if they’re quiet at first - don’t worry, they tend to become noisy once they start having fun!
Although they’re cuddly and soft, these dogs still need a moderately active lifestyle.

A small yard could be enough for your pet to play freely in, but going on walks frequently is also great.

Regardless, the Coton de Tulear will bring you permanent joy and love, as long as you can make them feel the same way.

If you’re away from home a lot, have a busy schedule, or you simply can’t spend much time with your pet, do consider another breed.

These dogs strongly dislike being left alone for more than a few hours, and they can even start chewing or barking excessively when it happens. 

6. Aidi

Height: 52–62 cm
Weight: 25 kg
Lifespan: 12–13 years
Appearance: Medium-sized, thick coat, protective mane

The Aidi breed was initially developed in Morocco for protection and guardianship.

Even though Aidis were mostly working dogs in the past, it’s getting more and more popular to own them as pets.

This is not surprising, given how affectionate and devoted they can be to their family.

However, keep in mind that no matter how friendly they are, Aidis still have well-developed protective instincts.

If you don’t socialize them while they’re puppies, you will find it very difficult to handle them around strangers and other dogs.

They are mistrustful by nature, so they need to have an experienced trainer who can provide plenty of guidance.

Punishment, criticism, and hostile feedback could make them trust you even less.

Aidis are active dogs, so raising them in an apartment won’t make them happy - this breed requires extensive physical and mental stimulation.

Once you let them get bored, you will have to deal with incessant barking or many other unwanted behaviors.

If you’re able to match their energy level and keep them busy every day, you’ll have a wonderful companion by your side. 

7. Azawakh

Height: 60–70 cm (female) / 64–74 cm (male)
Weight: 15–20 kg (female) / 20–25 kg (male)
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Appearance: Visible bone structure, long legs, very short coat, graceful walk

A sighthound bred in West Africa, the Azawakh was named after the Azawagh Valley.

Initially kept as guard dogs and hunting companions, Azawakh dogs are a rare breed of which little historical information is known.

At present, the Azawakh is a great therapy dog in rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. 

Both independent and loyal, this dog has a rather complex personality.

They can be the perfect family pet, both indoors and outdoors, but having a yard would be much better than raising them in an apartment.

If they have to live with other dogs, there’s a high chance your Azawakh will become the alpha dog.

As much as they are sweet, they don’t exactly enjoy having to interact with strangers or other animals – if you end up owning an Azawakh, that’s definitely something you’ll have to work on.

Another aspect you shouldn’t overlook is their diet. The physique of the Azawakh is athletic and very slim, partly because of its low-protein diet.

Since their digestive system has adapted to this diet in time, you will have to take it into consideration when buying food.

However, don’t be too strict either! Discussing this with your vet will help you make the right decisions in terms of nutrition.

With the right owner and the proper training, Azawakh dogs can easily become great companions. They are intelligent, self-confident, and sensible enough to learn quickly.

If you think you could handle an Azawakh, make sure you haven’t overlooked anything – they get very attached to their owners, so rehoming one would be extremely difficult. 

8. Armant

Sheepdog guarding a herd of sheep

Height: 53 – 58 cm
Weight: 23–29 kg
Lifespan: 13 years
Appearance: Medium-sized, black and light-brown coat, deep chest, black nose

Originally from Egypt, the Armant was mainly a guard dog and a herding dog.

Although it hasn’t been confirmed yet, this breed allegedly resulted from the crossing of the Briards, brought by Napoleon’s troops to Egypt, with local dogs.

While the Armant breed is extremely courageous when they have to protect something or someone, they’re also the sweetest dogs children could play with.

Affectionate and loyal to their owner, the Armant doesn’t require much time for training. They’re smart enough to understand commands quickly and patient enough to learn.

In terms of care, another advantage is that grooming shouldn’t take you much time either (except during shedding seasons).

Due to their energetic nature, Armant dogs need to lead active lives.

They can live well in apartments, but you will have to make sure they take enough walks, have enough toys, and play as much as they need to.

If you have a spacious yard, don’t forget that the Armant has a herding instinct – many distractions could catch their attention, and you don’t want them to run away.

It’s a good idea to get an Armant if you’re able to create a healthy routine for them. As they’re more sensitive than other dog breeds, they can be affected by irregular schedules.

Also, impatient owners should never opt for this breed – Armant dogs respond negatively to soft punishments and loud noises, so don’t take on more than you can handle. 

9. Chinese Crested Dog

Chinese Crested dog exposed to the wind

Height: 23–30 cm (female) / 28–33 cm (male)
Weight: 2.3–5.4 kg (female) / 2.3–5.4 kg (male)
Lifespan: 13–15 years
Appearance: Small-sized, hair growth depends on the variety of Chinese Crested Dog (Hairless or Powderpuff)

In spite of its name, the Chinese Crested Dog breed was actually developed in Africa and only later brought to China.

There are two types of Chinese Crested Dogs, with each having distinct coat-related traits.

The Hairless usually have their head, paws, and tail covered in coat, while the rest of the body is exclusively covered in very soft skin.

The Powderpuff, on the other hand, are long-haired and have a thick double coat. Surprisingly, both of these types can appear in the same litter.

Unlike other dog breeds that originate from the African continent, the Chinese Crested Dogs require a lot of time and patience when it comes to grooming.

Even the Hairless dogs need some extra-care, as their skin is very similar to human skin. The last thing you want is seeing your pet suffer from acne, sunburns, or allergies!

In terms of health, it’s important to keep in mind that this is a toy breed.

It’s true that Chinese Crested Dogs are not affected by certain congenital diseases specific to small dogs, but they’re not low-maintenance either.

Glaucoma, Progressive Retinal Atrophy, and lens luxation are just three of the major health concerns related to this breed. 

These concerns could imply high medical expenses, and you have to make sure you can afford them.

Chinese Crested Dogs are ideal for indoor living, and their energy levels don’t require an active lifestyle.

As long as you find engaging activities for them at home, you can even skip a walk or two.

However, they really dislike cold weather, so make sure they have a warm home to return to and plenty of dog coats.

Friendly, affectionate, and incredibly cute, these delicate dogs can be wonderful family pets. However, they can’t be left alone for too long.

If there’s no one at home for most of the day, it’s best that you look for another dog breed. 

10. Sloughi

Greyhound dog running

Height: 61–68 cm (female) / 66–72 cm (male)
Weight: 18–23 kg (female) / 22–28 kg (male)
Lifespan: 12–16 years
Appearance: Medium-large, athletic, long legs, short and smooth coat

A beautiful sighthound similar to the Saluki, the Sloughi originates from Morocco and is also known as the “Berber Greyhound”.

In the past, Sloughis were predominantly used to hunt gazelles, jackals, and foxes.

Their hunting instincts are ingrained, so you should have your Sloughi under control whenever they interact with small, unfamiliar animals.

Alert and independent, this breed is not renowned for its obedience. You can train a Sloughi to become a great pet, but you need a lot of patience and resources.

Before agreeing to this challenge, make sure it’s truly what you want – as aloof as they may be, Sloughis get very attached to their families, so it would be emotionally difficult for them to be rehomed.

This breed could adapt to apartment life, but you would still have to provide appropriate amounts of daily exercise.

As you can probably guess, Sloughis are high-energy dogs – if you don’t have an active lifestyle, get ready to change it entirely.

First-time owners should definitely opt for a dog that requires less care. Sloughis can be very stubborn, and they’re not the best choice for families with small children.

Additional pets are not recommended either, unless they grow up together. Even so, if you’re willing to put in the time and the effort, you will have a reliable life partner by your side. 

11. Africanis

Young Africanis dog posing for a picture

Height: 50-60 cm
Weight: 25-45 kg
Lifespan: 10-12 years
Appearance: Medium-sized, short coat, slender muzzle

Probably the most interesting breed on the list, Africanis dogs have developed naturally, with almost no human involvement.

They have been living in Africa for thousands of years now, and their earliest remnants date from 570 AD.

Although this has not been confirmed yet, the Africanis allegedly descend from ancient Egyptian dogs.

In spite of being unfairly labeled as “pariah dogs” by some modern writers, they are highly intelligent and easy to train.

Additionally, they are actually sociable dogs – they enjoy giving and receiving affection, as well as playing.

People appreciate Africanis dogs because of their great guarding skills. Once they become a part of your family, they do their best to protect you.

Due to the environment they developed in, the Africanis are even-tempered and easy to handle even by first-time owners.

As long as you socialize them properly, they can be great companions for children. They can be very friendly towards other animals as well, especially when they grow up together.

If you ever decide to adopt an Africanis dog, it is essential that you provide him with a proper amount of daily exercise.

They can adapt to apartment life, but only as long as they’re still taken outside regularly. 

Final Thoughts

Most of these breeds are extremely smart, easy to groom, and quiet.

Some of them can make wonderful pets for families with small children, while others are better suited around older children.

Almost all of them require previous experience with domestic dogs. A few of them could require high medical expenses.

These pros and cons are vital pieces of information, and you should never overlook them when you’re deciding what kind of dog to get.

Every animal requires responsibility to take care of it, but some of them could be more than you can handle.

The only way to provide each dog with the love and care they deserve is to make an informed choice.

As you can see from this article, there are many dog breeds from Africa to choose from.

Whether you fall in love with the gorgeous Boerboel or the adorable Coton de Tulear, the conclusion remains the same – before becoming a dog owner, you need to make sure that you can provide everything they may need.