Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa

Eduarda Piamore
By Eduarda Piamore, Expert in canine and feline psychology, education and training.. May 8, 2023
Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa

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Africa is a continent of incredible diversity, with a rich cultural heritage and a wide range of unique flora and fauna. This includes a number of fascinating dog breeds that are found nowhere else in the world. From the powerful and majestic Rhodesian Ridgeback to the energetic and agile Basenji, African dog breeds offer a wide range of characteristics and personalities to suit any lifestyle.

In this article from Animalwised, we'll take a closer look at some of the most popular and interesting African dog breeds, exploring their history, physical attributes, and personality traits.

You may also be interested in: Top Dog Breeds Starting with A
  1. Basenji
  2. Azawakh
  3. Sloughi
  4. Rhodesian Ridgeback
  5. Coton de Tuleár
  6. Boerboel
  7. Aidi
  8. Africanis
  9. Saluki
  10. Pharaoh Hound
See more >>


The Basenji is a small, elegant breed of hunting dog that originated in Central Africa. Also known as the "barkless dog," the Basenji is known for its unique vocalizations, which include yodels, howls, and chortles.

Physically, the Basenji is distinguished by its short, fine coat, which can be red, black, brindle, or tri-color. The breed is also known for its high-set, curled tail, as well as its alert, expressive eyes and pricked ears. Despite its small size, the Basenji is a muscular and athletic breed that excels at hunting and agility sports.

The breed is also known for its intelligence and independence, which can make it a challenge to train. However, with proper socialization and training, the Basenji can be a loyal and affectionate companion that is well-suited to life in a variety of settings.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 1.Basenji

2. Azawakh

The Azawakh is a sighthound breed that originated in West Africa, specifically in Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso. The Azawakh Greyhound's ancestors were bred by the Tuareg people, a semi-nomadic tribe that is native to the Saharan desert region of West Africa.

The breed was primarily used as a hunting dog and was also considered a status symbol and talisman by the Tuareg people. Due to their importance to the tribe, the breed remained isolated in this region for centuries, with little breeding outside of the Tuareg community. It wasn't until the 1970s that the breed was introduced to Europe, where it gained popularity as a show and performance dog.

This breed is tall and lean with a short, fine coat that can range in color from light to dark shades of fawn, brindle, black, or gray. The breed's most distinctive physical characteristic is its slim, long-legged appearance, which gives it a graceful and elegant gait.

Azawakh Greyhounds are primarily bred for hunting and have excellent speed, agility, and endurance, making them ideal for chasing and catching prey in the arid desert regions of West Africa.

Despite their hunting instincts, Azawakh Greyhounds are gentle and loyal dogs that are known for their independent and intelligent personalities.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 2. Azawakh


The Sloughi is a rare sighthound breed that originates from North Africa, specifically Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Tunisia. The breed is also known as the Arabian Greyhound or the North African Sloughi.

Historically, the Sloughi was kept by nomadic Berber tribes in North Africa, and was prized for its ability to hunt and protect the tribe's livestock. Today, the breed remains relatively rare outside its native region, but is gaining popularity as a show and performance dog.

The Sloughi is a medium-sized breed that is muscular and agile, with a short, dense coat that can range in color from light sand to red or brindle.

Like other sighthound breeds, they are known for their speed, endurance, and keen sense of sight. The breed is also known for its gentle and sensitive personality, making it a loyal and devoted companion to its family.

You might be interested in this other article, where we have listed the most popular sighthounds.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 3.Sloughi

4. Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large and muscular breed of dog that originated in Southern Africa, specifically in what is now Zimbabwe.

The breed was originally developed as a hunting dog, and was bred to track and corner large game, such as lions and wild boar.

The breed's most distinguishing feature is its ridge of hair, which runs along its back and grows in the opposite direction to the rest of its coat. The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a short, dense coat that can be wheaten, red, or light tan in color.

The breed is known for its strength, athleticism, and endurance, making it a popular choice for active families and those who enjoy outdoor activities. Despite its hunting heritage, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is also a loyal and affectionate companion that is highly trainable and eager to please.

Be sure to check this other article, where we have listed what are the most intelligent dog breeds according to Stanley Coren.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 4. Rhodesian Ridgeback

5. Coton de Tuleár

The Coton de Tuleár is a breed of African dog originating from the island of Madagascar, more specifically from a port city called Tuléar. Although there is no reliable record that allows to know exactly their origins, it is estimated that these dogs originate from dogs of the bichon family that have been brought from Europe to Madagascar.

The arrival of these dogs on the island is still a mystery. Some versions say that they were taken by French troops, while others affirm that they arrived on the ships of Spanish or Portuguese navigators.

Undoubtedly, its most characteristic feature is its white, soft and dense fur that, due to its resemblance to cotton, gives it the name "coton" (a word that means "cotton" in the French language).

It is also a small dog, with a body slightly longer than it is tall, and a very docile, cheerful and sociable character. For this reason, they are usually very loved as pets, and can be excellent family dogs.

You might be interested in this other article, where you will find a step-by-step guide to cleaning a dog's ears.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 5. Coton de Tuleár

6. Boerboel

The Boerboel is a molosser-type dog breed that originated in South Africa. Its development is believed to have involved cross-breeding with the bullmastiff, Great Dane, and the now-extinct Bullenbeisser dog of German origin.

With its impressive size and imposing appearance, the Boerboel attracts attention wherever it goes. However, this breed requires an experienced owner who possesses patience, love, and knowledge to train it properly.

In terms of temperament, the Boerboel is an intelligent and well-balanced dog that typically responds positively to positive training methods. However, it is inherently wary of strangers, having been historically trained as a guard and defense dog. Therefore, early socialization plays a critical role in their education. With proper training, this breed can make a loyal and devoted companion.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 6. Boerboel

7. Aidi

The Aidi is a lesser-known African breed, largely unrecognized beyond its native territory. Its origins can be traced back to the mountainous regions of North Africa, particularly the Atlas mountain range in Morocco.

These dogs were bred to work alongside the nomadic Berber tribes, serving primarily as herders and protectors. They were also occasionally used for hunting big game, such as wild boar.

The Aidi is a medium-sized dog with a slightly elongated body and a strong, muscular build, highlighting its physical strength, agility, and endurance. Its thick, smooth, short coat is abundant and adheres well to the skin, with a white base color that is often combined with shades of black or brown.

In terms of temperament, the Aidi is an active and loyal dog that displays a strong protective instinct towards its home and family.

You might be interested in this other article, where we discuss how to properly socialize a dog.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 7. Aidi

8. Africanis

The Africanis, also known as African canis, is a fascinating breed of dog native to South Africa. The breed's origins are not well-documented, but it is believed to have developed naturally from crosses between South African pariah dogs and hounds that were introduced to South Africa from the European continent.

Africanis is a medium-sized dog with a slightly elongated body and well-developed muscles. Its short, thick coat can exhibit any color, and some individuals may also display the characteristic Rhodesian crest.

Africanis dogs are active, fast, and very slender, and they require a high level of physical activity to maintain a balanced behavior. Currently, the Africanis is classified as an emerging breed by the Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA). The Africanis Society of Southern Africa is working tirelessly to meet the requirements for official recognition by the International Cynological Federation (FCI).

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 8. Africanis


The Saluki is an ancient breed that is believed to be one of the oldest types of greyhounds or sighthounds. The breed is also known as the "royal dog of Egypt" or the "Persian greyhound" and is associated with both Arab and African cultures.

The FCI, which is the world governing body for dog breeds, attributes the breed's origin to the Middle East, specifically Iran. However, depictions of the Saluki have been found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back to 2100 BC, indicating that the breed has been present in the region for a very long time. The Saluki was highly valued by the Egyptian nobility and was often given as a gift.

The breed comes in two varieties – long-haired and short-haired – with the former being more popular.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 9.Saluki

10. Pharaoh Hound

The Pharaoh Hound is an ancient breed of dog that is believed to have originated in Egypt. It is a medium-sized dog with a lean and muscular body, and a short, glossy coat that can range in color from tan to deep red. The breed is known for its distinctive rose-shaped ears and keen, intelligent expression.

Pharaoh Hounds are highly active and energetic dogs that require regular exercise and mental stimulation. They are affectionate and loyal with their families, but can be reserved or aloof with strangers. With proper socialization, they can get along well with children and other pets. The breed is intelligent and independent, but also sensitive and responsive to training.

Be sure to check our other article about environmental enrichment for dogs and puppies.

Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa - 10. Pharaoh Hound

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Dog Breeds That Originated in Africa