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150 Popular & Unique Basenji Names (With Meanings)

Written by: Lindsey Lawson

Last Updated on April 16, 2024 by Dogster Team

Popular and Unique Basenji Names

150 Popular & Unique Basenji Names (With Meanings)

The Basenji is most commonly known as the barkless dog, but there is so much more to this incredible breed. Originally bred to hunt small game and control rodent populations in their homeland of Africa, these dogs have a very long and impressive history.

If you are making room in your heart and home for a brand-new Basenji, you will want to pick a name that is as unique and amazing as they are. That’s why we’ve provided a list of 150 names that cover all bases. We’ve even included some very interesting African names and their meanings to represent their native origins.


African-Inspired Names for Male Basenji

  • Ade – Nigerian name, meaning “crown”
  • Chima – Igbo name meaning “God knows”
  • Dawit – Amharic form of David
  • Izem – Tamazight name that means “lion”
  • Ejiro – Urhobo name, which means “praise”
  • Cali – means “sublime, lofty”
  • Kato – Luganda name meaning “second of twins”
  • Diallo – means “bold”
  • Bitrus – Hausa form of Peter, which means “stone”
  • Dejen – means “foundation, support”
  • Ike – means “God will laugh”
  • Lencho – Oromo name, meaning “lion”
  • Idir – means alive in Tamazight
  • Kojo – Akan name, meaning “born on a Monday”
  • Kofi – Akan name, meaning “born on a Friday”
  • Kwame – Akan name, meaning “born on a Saturday”
  • Okoro – Urhobo name, meaning “man”
  • Ekene – Igbo name meaning “to praise or thank”
  • Kabelo – means “given” in Sotho
  • Omari – Swahili name, meaning “uncertain”
  • Kibwe – means “blessed” in Swahili
  • Obi – Igbo name, meaning “heart”
  • Moto – Oromo name, meaning “leader”
  • Simba – Shona name that means “strength”
  • Tafhari – Amharic name that means “he who inspires”
Image Credit: Verbitskaya Juliya, Shutterstock

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African-Inspired Names for Female Basenji

  • Asha – Swahili name that means  “alive”
  • Danai – Shona name that means “to call or summon.”
  • Efe – Urhobo name that means “wealth”
  • Dayo – Yoruba name meaning “joy arrives”
  • Imani – Swahili name that means “faith”
  • Farai – Shona name that means “rejoice”
  • Makena – Kikuyu name, meaning “happy one”
  • Rudo – Shone name that means “love”
  • Thema – Akan name that means “queen”
  • Zuri – Swahili name that means “beautiful”
  • Chika – Nigerian name meaning “God is supreme”
  • Ada – means “first daughter”
  • Hibo – Somali name that means “gift”
  • Amara – Igbo name that means “grace”
  • Kenya – means “mountain of whiteness” after Mt. Kenya
  • Nala – Swahili name that means “queen”
  • Ola – Nigerian name meaning “wealth”
  • Zola – name from the Republic of Congo that means “quietness”
  • Anuli – Igbo name that means “joy”
  • Chi – Igbo name that means means “god, spiritual being”
  • Dalila – Swahili name meaning “gentle”
  • Deka – Somalian name that means “pleasing”
  • Jaha – means “dignity”
  • Lulu – Tanzanian name meaning “pearl”
  • Shani – means “marvelous”
basenji dog on the grass
Image By: Aleksandr Tarlõkov, Pixabay

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Popular Male Names for Basenjis

  • Henry
  • Charlie
  • Milo
  • Spike
  • Oliver
  • Boaz
  • Hunter
  • Buddy
  • Niko
  • Jack
  • Finn
  • Axel
  • Silas
  • Ace
  • Ranger
  • Rex
  • Archie
  • Rudy
  • Bandit
  • Apollo
  • Bolt
  • Nash
  • Zeke
  • Rocky
  • Cash
  • Arlo
  • Theo
  • Red
  • Sam
  • Neo
  • Beau
  • Cyrus
  • Rocco
  • Huck
  • Scout
  • Thor
  • Boomer
  • Enzo
  • Buster
  • Jasper
  • Loki
  • Ollie
  • Rusty
  • Chase
  • Alfie
  • Duke
  • Presley
  • Marty
  • Walker
  • Toby
Image by: Pixabay

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Popular Female Names for Basenjis

  • Ginger
  • Lola
  • Maggie
  • Sophie
  • Cleo
  • Ella
  • Annie
  • Lily
  • Daisy
  • Roxy
  • Stella
  • Ruby
  • Millie
  • Nova
  • Clover
  • Gracie
  • Rosie
  • Mia
  • Mabel
  • Nora
  • Trixie
  • Penny
  • Hazel
  • Maisie
  • Holly
  • Bailey
  • Annie
  • Piper
  • Echo
  • Ivy
  • Fiona
  • Lady
  • Ziggy
  • Elsie
  • Greta
  • Sierra
  • Jules
  • Tilly
  • Willow
  • Iris
  • Orchid
  • Juno
  • Scarlet
  • Ariel
  • Sydney
  • Angel
  • Kiwi
  • Riley
  • Molly
  • Poppy
Image by: Iza Ponchie, Pexels


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Top 10 Fun Facts About the Basenji

1. The Basenji is One of the Oldest Known Dog Breeds

The Basenji breed is one of the oldest known dog breeds in existence. There are cave paintings from Libya that suggest they could have existed as far back as 6000 B.C. They are believed to have originated in Central Africa where they were used as hunting dogs. Many Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and statues of the Basenji have also been discovered.

2. Basenjis Don’t Bark

Basenjis are barkless dogs, but they aren’t without noise. They emit a yodel that sounds like it fits somewhere between a howl and a bark. This is because the area between their vocal cords is shallower and is not able to vibrate like other dogs. In African mythology, it is believed that a fire God took away the Basenji’s ability to speak.

basenji dog running
Image by: Aleksandr Tarlõkov, Pixabay

3. Mummified Basenjis Have Been Discovered in Egypt

In addition to being featured on hieroglyphs and statues, there have even been mummified Basenjis found in Ancient Egypt. In 2015, archaeologists discovered a catacomb that contained over 8 million mummified dogs and puppies, which was a ritual practiced to allow the dogs to enter the afterlife alongside their beloved owners.

4. Modern-Day Basenjis Are Used to Hunt Lions in Africa

Basenjis were first used to help flush out small game and control rodent populations in African villages but modern-day Basenjis in their homeland now take on an even larger form of prey, the African Lion. While the courageous, strong Rhodesian Ridgeback breed is born and bred for this purpose, the Basenji is used as bait for the lions to lure them out of dens. While the hunting style is much different than the Ridgeback, it takes a brave dog to wander into a lion’s den.

5. The Exportation of the Breed was Very Difficult

Exporting the breed out of Africa and into Europe and North America proved quite difficult. In the first attempt to export the Basenji to the United Kingdom during the 1890s, there was an outbreak of distemper that led to the death of all the dogs.

Once the vaccine was available 40 years later, the breed was once again exported to both the United Kingdom and the United States around 1930. This time, their numbers were so low in these countries that the breed struggled due to a lack of genetic diversity, leading them to develop a health condition known as Fanconi’s syndrome.

basenji dog
Image by: Mirosław i Joanna Bucholc, Pixabay

6. Sighthound or Scenthound?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding what type of hound the Basenji falls under. According to the United Kennel Club, the Canadian Kennel Club, and American Sight-hound Field Association the breed is classified as a sighthound. The FCI regards them as scenthounds and the American Kennel Club is undecided, listing them as both.

7. Egyptian God Anubis Is Believed to Be Half Basenji

The Egyptian God of Death, Anubis was depicted as having the body of a human and the head of a dog. The distinct look of Anubis bears a striking resemblance to the Basenji, and considering the breed’s popularity in Ancient Egypt, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched.

8. Basenjis Are Difficult to Train

Basenjis are known for being very catlike in many ways. That means they tend to be more aloof and independent when compared to other dog breeds. These characteristics make the breed a bit more difficult to train. They are intelligent though, and training is certainly possible, you just need to be consistent and have a lot of patience.

9. They Are Easy to Groom

Not only does this breed have very short hair, but they also behave much more like cats when it comes to grooming. Basenjis are very clean and will spend a lot of time grooming their coats and paws, just like your average feline.

Basenji in a desert
Image by: Nikita Tiunov, Shutterstock

10. The Basenji is Quick

You won’t have an easy time catching up to these small, athletic dogs. The Basenji is a very fast breed that uses the double-suspension gallop that you see in greyhounds and whippets. The breed has been known to reach up to 25 miles per hour.

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Tips for Naming Your Brand-New Basenji

If you need some extra encouragement on how to choose the right name for your new Basenji, here is a list of tips to help you narrow it down even further:

  • Choose a Name That Fits- The Basenji is a unique breed with distinct characteristics. You will want to find a name that works well with their overall personality. You don’t have to pick a name right away; you can take a couple of days to get to know your new pup before making a final decision.
  • One or Two-Syllable Names Are Easiest to Remember- Names that only contain one or two syllables are always easier for pets to remember and pick up on. You don’t have to limit your criteria to one or two syllables but maybe keep in mind some nicknames that would work if you have a longer name in mind.
  • Name Them Something Appropriate- Make sure to name your dog something appropriate to say and share. Inappropriate names may seem funny at first, but when it comes time to introduce your dog to family members, children, and even veterinary staff, you may think twice. You also need to consider that you will be yelling out their name at some point.
  • Use Your Personal Taste to Help You Pick a Name- When thinking about what to name your brand-new dog, stop and consider some of your favorite things. These could be characters from your favorite books, TV, or movies, or even your favorite foods, drinks, travel destinations, and more. If you stop and think about these things, you may be surprised by the interesting ideas you come up with.
  • Get the Entire Household in on the Process- Basenjis are a breed that will typically take to one person and form a strong, lifetime bond. That doesn’t mean they can’t be part of the family, though. There’s no harm in involving everyone in the house when you are trying to come up with names.


Final Thoughts

There is certainly no breed quite like the Basenji. With a lengthy history dating back thousands of years, ties to Ancient Egypt, and participation in lion hunting, this breed is nothing short of incredible. Hopefully, this list can help you come up with some great ideas to name your beautiful new companion.

Featured Image Credit: Verbitskaya Juliya, Shutterstock

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