12 Dog Breeds With African Origins

Boerboel African dog laying on grass

Africa, as the world's second-largest continent, is home to a diverse range of exotic animal species. Tourists travel to Africa to go on safaris, where they may see the continent's incredible elephants, giraffes, and lions in protected areas. Their dogs, which vary greatly in appearance, temperament, and history, are frequently forgotten. Some breeds are found all across the world, while others are solely found in Africa.


If you're looking for a first-time companion, go for a dog that fits your lifestyle more than its appearance. High-energy working dogs, like most African breeds, need a lot of exercise, don't mind going on walks with their owners, and might be an excellent candidate for house guarding if that's what you're looking for.

Breed Characteristics

Africa's varied geography includes deserts, tropical rainforests, mountains, and green savannah. African dogs share numerous characteristics. With short coats and slender bodies, they've adapted to the continent's torrid environment. They're very active worker dogs with strong hunting and protecting instincts. They also develop a strong relationship with their peers and have learned to rely on one another.

Here are 12 unique African dog breeds that dog lovers enjoy.

  • 01 of 12

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

    The first thing you'll notice about a saluki is how tall and slim they seem. Salukis are powerful, balanced, and athletic despite their small size. Historians say the breed is one of the world's oldest, going back as far as 7000 B.C. Salukis have long been a favorite of Egyptian pharaohs and monarchs, and their exquisite beauty is likely why they are still popular pets today. The American Kennel Club recognized the saluki in 1927, marking the beginning of the breed's popularity in the United States.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    23 to 28 inches tall Weight range: 40-65 pounds Coat & Color: White, cream, fawn, golden, multicolor, and black and tan are some of the hues available.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 17 years

  • 02 of 12


    Breeders mixed the native ridged Khoikhoi dog with European breeds such different terriers introduced to southern Africa by Dutch colonists to produce the distinctive Rhodesian ridgeback. Hunters discovered that these ridged dogs were particularly good at confronting lions, making them exceptionally useful hunting dogs. They were also capable of fending off hazardous predators like as leopards and monkeys, as well as hunting prey such as antelope for nourishment. Every year, the energetic and faithful breed grows in popularity, especially in the United States.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    24 to 27 inches tall 70-85 pound weight range Color and coat: Their backs have a ridge; their coats are short and thick; their colors range from light to red wheaten with little white patterns on their chest and toes; and they may wear a black mask.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 03 of 12

    African Wild Dog


    The African wild dog, also known as the painted dog or painted wolf, is a rare canine species Lycaon pictus that lives in packs in the plains and woods of Sub-Saharan Africa. These wild canines are not tamed and are similar to the African wolves. They hunt antelope, rodents, birds, and even enormous wildebeests on occasion. Due to their menacing temperament, African wild dogs are frequently killed by hunters and farmers. These wild dogs are critically endangered.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Wild animal; not a AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 30 inches
    Weight: 40 to 70 pounds
    Coat and Color: Spotted markings with patches of red, black, brown, white, and yellow fur

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 04 of 12

    Aidi (Atlas Mountain Dog)


    Despite the fact that this breed originates from the sweltering African continent, the Aidi's coat is thick, dense, and velvety to the touch. One of the reasons the Aidi reminds owners of traditional sheepdogs is their soft coat. The breed was created to defend its owners from predators in the highlands where they worked in Morocco. Aidis are popular pets because they are intelligent, protective, and devoted. Although the American Kennel Club does not recognize the breed, it is recognized by numerous other canine organizations and continues to demonstrate its superiority throughout North Africa.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Guardian (UKC), Molossian (FCI), not an AKC-recognized breed

    20 to 24 inches tall 50-55 pound weight range Coat & Color: Medium-length thick, coarse coat; hues include black, white, red, and tawny; dark eyes.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12


    Because of their huge, muscular physique and blocky head, Boerboels are sometimes mistaken for or mastiffs. Despite their menacing appearance, boerboels are gentle giants who are clever and devoted friends that are especially good with children. Interbreeding between European guard dogs, especially bull and mastiff types, and African lineages resulted in the creation of the breed. Farmers retained the boerboel, which means "farmers dog," because of its brave attitude and protective temperament.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Working (AKC)

    22 to 27 inches tall 150-200 pound weight range Short and thick coat in brown, red, and fawn hues; may have brindle or piebald patterns.

    Life Expectancy: 9 to 11 years

  • 06 of 12



    The sloughi's history is mostly unknown, but specialists can affirm that hunters adored dogs like the sloughi, and they were popular hunting partners among Egyptian aristocracy and nomads alike. They're rather abundant in Morocco, where they're still employed for hunting. Because of their aloofness toward strangers, Sloughis are frequently utilized as security dogs. But don't be fooled: sloughis are friendly with those they know and make wonderful pets.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    24 to 29 inches tall 35 to 50 pound weight range Short hair; smooth coat; dark eyes; coat color ranges from cream to red, with brindle or black markings around the eyes and ears.

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 15 years

  • 07 of 12


    Although the Basenji has a tiny and compact physique, it is not without athletic ability. Basenjis have tremendous stamina and, as a result, have high activity requirements to avoid boredom. Basenjis are beautiful, loving pets if you can satisfy their activity demands. A benefit: Basenjis do not bark. Instead, they create less distracting yodeling noises. If that isn't enough, the Basenji has a lengthy history of domestication, demonstrating that they make excellent pets. Basenjis have been pictured in ancient Egyptian artifacts, as well as ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Hound (AKC)

    16 to 17 inches tall 22 to 24 pound weight range Short, fine coat with white markings on their paws, chest, and tail; colors include red, black, tricolor, or brindle.

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 14 years

  • 08 of 12

    Abyssinian Sand Terrier (Hairless African Dog)


    Long bodies and various skin tones characterize this highly unusual African breed. This breed's biggest distinguishing trait is its lack of hair. They frequently have hair on their heads and tail ends. The Abyssinian sand terrier is a peaceful and gentle breed that enjoys working out with its owners. Fearless and devoted, Abyssinian sand terriers are eager to please their owners.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not an AKC-recognized breed; possibly extinct

    15.5 to 20.5 inches tall Weight range: 21-39 pounds Colors include black, gray, bronze, and sand; skin may have mottled patterning; hairless save for tufts of hair on the head and tail.

    Life Expectancy: 12 to 15 years

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  • 09 of 12


    The Chinese crested's precise origins are unknown, although scientists believe they descended from other African hairless dogs mated with lesser Chinese varieties. If you watch dog shows regularly, you may be familiar with the lovely Chinese crested dog. Because of their distinct appearance, Chinese cresteds stand out among other dog breeds. The majority of the breed is hairless and has pinkish skin. Tufts of hair usually grow on top of their heads, giving them a playful, fuzzy look. Despite their small size, Chinese cresteds are exceptionally active dogs who like running and strolling with their owners.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Toy (AKC)

    11 to 13 inches tall 8 to 12 pound weight range Hairless save for the head, tail, and feet; speckled pink skin with white, feathery hair.

    Life Expectancy: 13 to 18 years

  • 10 of 12


    The white, fluffy coton de tulear is perhaps the last canine that springs to mind when you hear the words "African dog." This pleasant companion dog is small, squat, and cotton puff. It enjoys being around its owners and amused them with its goofy actions or interesting tricks. The aristocrats of Madagascar, an island nation off the coast of Africa, used to favor this breed as their lapdog. The coton de tulear was secluded from the rest of the world for decades because these nobility wanted to maintain the lovely breed for themselves. French travelers found the species in the 1960s and took it to Europe, where it became an immediate sensation. In 2014, the American Kennel Club officially recognized the breed.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Non-sporting (AKC)

    Height: 9 to 11 inches
    Weight: 8 to 15 pounds
    Coat and Color: Long, fluffy white coat

    Life Expectancy: 15 to 19 years

  • 11 of 12



    The Africanis is a native South African dog breed and one of the few remaining primitive breeds on the planet. DNA research has confirmed that the Africanis is a separate breed, formerly rejected as mongrels. With origins dating back to around 7000 BC, it predates the Egyptian dynasties. It has the appearance of a greyhound crossed with a dingo. Today, the Africanis live in remote tribal groups in South Africa, where they continue to hunt, herd, and serve as guard dogs, as in the past.

    Breed Overview

    Group: Not an AKC-recognized breed

    Height: 20 to 24 inches
    Weight: 55 to 100 pounds
    Coat and Color: Black, black and tan, brown, white

    Life Expectancy: 10 to 12 years

  • 12 of 12


    The Azawakh is a beautiful and old West African desert creature. The Azawakh Valley, located in the desert between Mali and Niger, gave them their name, which means "Land of the North." They are devoted to their family, although they might be suspicious of outsiders. This high-prey-drive sighthound also protects their nomadic Tuareg shepherds' cattle. They are well-known for their hunting abilities and friendship. They have evolved to thrive in hostile desert environments.

Breeds to Avoid

If you really want an African dog, the worst thing you could do is adopt an African wild dog puppy. These dogs are hard to come by in the United States, and in most situations, keeping them is banned in the majority of states (like other wild canines, such as wolves and foxes). These unusual wild canines are hypercarnivores, with meat accounting for 70% of their diet. If you're looking for an African dog, the Rhodesian ridgeback, coton de Tulear, and basenji are the simplest to come across.