The planet is a big and wide place filled with various cultures. Just as we celebrate different cultures and peoples around the world, we can also celebrate the diversity of man’s best friends. From New York to Tokyo, there are different dog breeds from place to place.
You might be wondering how many different types of dog breeds exist. The FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale) recorded and recognized around 390-400 dog breeds. Knowing each breed will allow us to understand not only the place itself but the ways of life of everyone that lives alongside these dogs.
As the world’s second-largest continent, Africa is home to several exotic and unique animal species in all different shapes and sizes. When people think of the African continent, they mostly think of wild safaris, jungles, and deserts with blistering heat. And while Africans are proud of their rich and diverse fauna, they are also celebrated for birthing some of the most adorable canines that we’ve come to love today. As such, it comes to no surprise that they also have specific dog breeds that thrive in their weather, lifestyle, and land.
Want to know more about the five (5) most common dog breeds in Africa? Let’s check this one out.
1. Rhodesian Ridgeback
The Rhodesian ridgeback often referred to as the African Lion Hound, is a native canine hailing from South Africa. It is known to be gregarious with a quiet and gentle temperament, making it an excellent companion for humans. The hallmark physical trait of this breed is the ridge on its back, hence the name “Ridgeback”.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is easily trained and has above-average tractability. The breed’s history dates back to the 16th century when the first Europeans explored the interior on the Cape of Good Hope where they were bred by the Boer farmers to meet their needs for a hunting dog in the wilds of Africa. They needed a companion that could withstand the rigors of the African bush and handle the drastic changes in temperature from the heat of the day to the freezing night temperatures. This dog was bred to hunt and be a family protector.
In today’s modern era, the Rhodesian Ridgeback continues to be an active, exuberant pooch that loves a good walk to the park from time to time. As it ages, a well-trained Ridgeback begins to mature and develops new traits that make it a more gentle pooch.
Native to Morocco, the Aidi or Chine De l’Atlas is a dual-purpose dog used as both a flock guardian and a hunting companion. The Aidi, also known as the Atlas Mountain Dog, was developed in the Atlas Mountains. This mountain range extends 1500 miles across northern Africa through Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia.
Like many ancient breeds of dogs, the true history of the Aidi is shrouded in mystery. Although its true origin may have been lost in time, we do know that the Berber people used the Aidi as a protective guard dog for the family. The job of the Aidi was to watch over livestock and property; keeping them safe from predators and strangers.
The 21st century Aidi is known for one unique trait: its heavy, short coat, which is unusual for the scorching African climate! An Aidi at home is very protective and loyal to its owner, but it can be quite sensitive when punished. As such, dog trainers recommend utilizing positive reinforcement methods as a training tool instead.
Aidis also tend to be agile, alert canines as a result of their history as livestock protectors in Africa. They make for the perfect watchdogs and at the same time an exquisite choice for a family pet!
Basenjis are one of the smallest hounds. They are an aloof and very affectionate dog that can be fiercely protective of their families.
The Basenji got its name from a Mrs. Burn in England around 1936. Known until then as the Congo dog or Congo terrier, the word “basenji” means “dog of the bush” in that region of Africa. They are ancient dogs — tracing their lineage from pariah dogs for the Egyptians and then to hunting dogs for the tribes in the Congo.
This breed is in silent packs and often wears bells to alert their human partners to their whereabouts in the deep jungle. They were, and still are, renowned for their keen eyesight and excellent sense of smell. In the 1980s several Basenjis were imported to the United States from Zaire and added to the AKC gene pool to help combat some health problems.
Most reputable dog breeders today would say that the Basenji is not for everyone. After all, a Basenji’s intelligence is high to the point of mischief. They can be manipulative, aggressive, and unworthy of your trust if you don’t teach them appropriate commands early on in their lives. On top of that, a full-grown Basenji is determined to escape an environment that it doesn’t like. If you leave it in your backyard alone for some time, you might lose your pooch as it searches for a more comfortable space.
With all these peculiarities in mind, the Basenji still continues to be well-appreciated by dog owners who have the patience and experience to deal with them. They love to play and show off!
The Boerboel is Africa’s big lion dog, bred to protect South African homesteads from wild and ferocious predators. They are often found on dangerous breed lists across the world, but they are also gentle giants and are known to have a fondness for children.
“Boer,” a Dutch word meaning “farmer,” was the name given to Dutch, German, and Huguenot settlers of South Africa who began arriving in the mid-1600s. The interbreeding of these and other European bloodlines in South Africa resulted in something called the Boer Dog, which was used by Boer settlers as a big-game hunter and protector.
A lot of people get easily intimidated by the sheer size of a Boerboel, but they’re actually just gigantic sweethearts! As part of their ancestry as farm working dogs, they thrive the most when they have a job to do or a goal to accomplish. These canines are highly active and intelligent, so they love to play and earn treats! A Boerboel’s temperament depends on its level of trust with people, so they may be a little aloof with strangers. However, a well-trained Boerboel will never think of causing harm to anyone.
In general, a Boerboel is the perfect canine for owners who love a big boi accompanying them in the outdoors. They are active, playful canines that require constant physical and mental stimulation.
The Africanis breed of dog developed naturally, without much in the way of human interference, and many feral Africanis dogs still roam freely in the villages and surrounding areas of South Africa. They are hunting and landrace dogs that are thought to have descended from dogs pictured in ancient cave art and on Egyptian murals.
Before the 1990s, this breed was viewed as feral mongrels. But concentrated efforts by the Africanis Society, founded by John Gallant and Dr. Udo Küsel, have improved their status. It is rare to find one outside of Africa.
These are just five of the many dog breeds common in Africa! Their rich culture is truly a fascinating thing to read about.