10 African Dog Breeds

A red and white Basenji dog standing up straight with a curled tail and perked ears in a field of grass and dandelions.

bruev / Getty Images 

As the world’s second largest continent, Africa is home to a number of exotic and unique animal species in all different sizes, shapes, and colors. It’s no wonder tourists flock to the area specifically to partake in an African safari where they have a chance to spot the country’s amazing creatures.

Elephants, giraffes, and lions are typically the first thing that comes to mind when most people think of African animals. A species often overlooked, though, is the dog. African dogs vary enormously and have unique appearances, temperaments, and history. Some breeds have become extremely popular across the globe, while others still largely only exist in Africa.

  • 01 of 10

    Saluki

    A fawn-colored Saluki dog laying in the grass and looking away from the camera.

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    Looking at a Saluki, the first thing you’ll notice is how tall and slender they appear. While they are slim, Salukis are very strong, balanced, and athletic. Historians believe the breed is one of the oldest in the world, possibly dating back to 7000 b.c. Salukis were favorites of kings throughout history, and their elegant appearance is likely the reason they are still popular pets in current times. The Saluki was officially recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1927, which marks the beginning of its rise in popularity in the U.S.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 23 to 28 inches
    Weight: 40 to 65 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Slim body; agile movements; deep eyes; long and narrow head; long ears covered with silky hair; smooth coat; colors include white, cream, fawn, golden, tricolor, and black and tan; long tail; females may be smaller than males

  • 02 of 10

    Rhodesian Ridgeback

    An elegant, brown Rodhesian Ridgeback standing tall on a sand dune with blue sky in the background.

    Frank Schrader / EyeEm / Getty Images

    The unique Rhodesian Ridgeback was created when breeders crossed the native ridged Khoikhoi dog with European breeds, like various Terriers, that were brought to southern Africa by Dutch colonists. These ridged dogs were found to be excellent at confronting lions, which made them extremely valuable hunting dogs. They also were proven experts at fending off dangerous animals like leopards and monkeys as well as hunting prey, like antelopes, for food. The active and loyal breed increases in popularity each year, especially in the U.S.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 24 to 27 inches
    Weight: 70 to 85 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Marked by a stripe of backward hair, also known as a ridge, on their back; muscular body; long, deep muzzle; short and dense coat; colors range from light to red wheaten with small white markings on their chest and toes

  • 03 of 10

    African Wild Dog

    Spotted wild dogs with large round ears looking close at the camera.

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    Also known as the painted dog, the African wild dog is an extremely unique dog breed that typically roams the plains and woodlands of sub-Saharan Africa in packs. There, they hunt antelopes, rodents, birds, and sometimes, even large wildebeests. Hunters and farmers often seek to kill African wild dogs due to their threatening behavior and potential to spread diseases. As a result, this breed of wild dogs is one of the world’s most endangered.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 30 inches
    Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Large, perked, round ears; dark muzzles and ears; spotted markings with patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur; athletic and fast; long legs; each foot has four toes

  • 04 of 10

    Aidi

    Aidi dog with white markings sitting with its mouth open in front of a white background.

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    Despite the fact that this breed hails from the hot African continent, the Aidi’s coat is actually thick, dense, and soft to the touch. Their plush coat is one of the reasons why the Aidi reminds owners so much of traditional sheepdogs. The breed was originally developed in Morocco to protect its owners from predators in the mountains where they worked. Because Aidis are smart, protective, and loyal, they became popular pets. The breed is not currently recognized by the American Kennel Club, but it is recognized by a number of other canine organizations and continues to prove its excellence in North Africa.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 20 to 24 inches
    Weight: 50 to 55 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Medium-sized; thick, coarse coat of medium length; colors vary and can include black, white, red, and tawny; large, bear-like head; tapered muzzle; strong jaws; slightly droopy ears; dark eyes

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Boerboel

    A large dog, resembling a mastiff, looking away from the camera in front of leaves.

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    Boerbels are often mistaken for Cane Corsos or a type of mastiff due to their large, muscular appearance and blocky head. Their looks are powerful and intimidating, but Boerbels are gentle giants who are intelligent and loyal companions who are especially great with kids. Boerbels, for those reasons, are very popular family pets. The breed came to fruition after interbreeding between European guard dogs, including bull and mastiff types, and African bloodlines. The Boerboel, translated as the “farmers dog,” was kept by farmers due to its fearless attitude and protective nature.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 22 to 27 inches
    Weight: 150 to 200 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Large, muscular body; blocky head with a wrinkled forehead; broad muzzle; loose and fleshy upper lip; short and dense coat that comes in shades of brown, red, and fawn; may have brindle or piebald markings

  • 06 of 10

    Sloughi

    A sand-colored dog with a thin body and curled tail standing in the grass ready to run.

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    The history of the Sloughi breed remains largely a mystery, but experts can confirm that hunters especially loved hounds like the Sloughi and they were popular hunting companions among Egyptian royalty as well as nomads. They are commonly found in Morocco, where it is still used for hunting. Sloughis are also used as guard dogs because of their aloofness towards strangers. But don’t be fooled—Sloughis are often affectionate among those they know and they make wonderful pets.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 26 to 29 inches (male); 24 to 27 inches (female)
    Weight: 35 to 50 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Short hair; smooth coat; long, slim body; pointed nose; large, dark eyes; coat color includes all shades of cream to red; coat may have brindle or black markings around the eyes or ears

  • 07 of 10

    Basenji

    A red and white Basenji dog with perked ears and a curled tail standing in a field with dandelions and looking straight at the camera.

    bruev / Getty Images

    The Basenji may have a small and compact body, but that definitely does not mean they aren’t athletic. Basenjis have an incredible amount of stamina and, thus, they have high exercise needs. They need lots of regular exercise to prevent boredom. If you can meet their exercise needs, Basenjis are wonderful, affectionate pets. A plus—Basenjis don’t bark. Instead, they make yodeling noises that are less disruptive. If that’s not enough for you, the Basenji has a long history of domestication, which proves that they make top-notch pets. The breed is depicted in ancient Egyptian artifacts, and Basenjis can also be found in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 16 to 17 inches
    Weight: 22 to 24 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Small and graceful; short, fine coat; curled tail; almond-shaped eyes; smooth musculature; color includes red, black, tricolor, or brindle with white markings on their feet, chest, and tail; long stride

  • 08 of 10

    Chinese Crested

    A small dog with gray skin on a hairless body and voluminous white hair on its head, feet, and tail standing in the grass.

    Zuzule / Getty Images

    You may already be familiar with the adorable Chinese Crested dog, especially if you are an avid dog show viewer. Chinese Cresteds stand out among other dog breeds because of their extremely unique look. The breed is mostly hairless with pink-ish skin. Tufts of hair typically top their heads, giving them a fun, furry hairdo. While these dogs are very small, Chinese Cresteds are very energetic and love to spend time running and walking with their owners. The exact origin of the Chinese Crested is still unknown, but experts believe they evolved from other African hairless dogs that were crossed with smaller Chinese breeds.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 11 to 13 inches
    Weight: 8 to 12 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Can be hairless except for the head, tail, and feet or fully coated; small and slender body; spotted pink skin with white, feathery hair; small size

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Abyssinian Sand Terrier

    A small hairless dog standing on a cement step in front of a wooden door.

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    Perhaps the most striking feature of this breed is their hairlessness. They do, however, often have hair on their heads and on the ends of their tails. Abyssinian Sand Terriers are quiet and calm, but they absolutely love exercising with their owners. This breed originated in Africa, but their entire history is still quite mysterious. A rare breed, featuring long bodies and varying skin tones, Abyssinian Sand Terriers are fearless, loyal, and eager to please their owners.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 15.5 to 20.5 inches
    Weight: 21 to 39 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Colors include black, gray, bronze, sand; skin can have mottled markings; hairless except for tufts of hair on head and tail; bat-like ears; long muzzle; sleek body

  • 10 of 10

    Coton de Tulear

    A person wearing jeans and converse walking next to a white, fluffy, small dog.

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    Upon hearing the words “African dog,” a dog with the appearance of the Coton de Tulear is likely the last one that comes to mind. Short, squat, and oh-so-fluffy, the Coton de Tulear is a happy companion dog who loves being around their owners and amusing them with their silly antics or fun tricks. The breed was once the preferred lapdog of the nobles of Madagascar, an island nation off the coast of Africa. These nobles wanted to keep the adorable breed for themselves, and thus the Coton de Tulear was isolated from the rest of the world for centuries. In the 1960s, French tourists discovered the breed and brought it to Europe, where it was an instant hit. The breed was registered by the American Kennel Club in 2014.

    Breed Overview

    Height: 9 to 11 inches
    Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
    Physical Characteristics: Fluffy white coat; sturdy and small body; rounded eyes; triangular head; lively and inquisitive expression