Shiba Inu Dog vs Basenji – Which is Better? There are several obvious differences between these two canines which both originated on different continents in ancient times, but just like us humans, they have more in common than you might realize. Let’s dig below the surface to unearth the facts on Shiba Inu and the Basenji and decide which may be a better pet for you.
The bloodline of the Shiba Inu goes back to 300 B.C. They are a basal breed whose job was to hunt small game in the brush. As a matter of fact, the word “shiba” means brushwood and “inu” is the Japanese word for dog.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, Shibas were nearly rendered extinct due to crossbreeding. But, through the efforts of hunters and preservationists, they were spared the death knell for a brief period. During World War II they faced extinction again, due to a food shortage, and yet again during a distemper epidemic in the 1950s. In the aftermath of these crises, the three surviving lines were crossbred, resulting in the version of the Shiba Inu that exists today.
Although this breed was introduced to the U.S. in 1954 by a military family, the first litter wasn’t born until 1979. In 1993, the Shiba Inu was recognized by the American Kennel Club.
You also might want to check out Shiba Inu Dog vs Corgi.
The Basenji is one of the oldest dog breeds in the world. Canines with Basenji-like features are depicted in Libyan cave art dated as far back as 6000 BC. These pariah, or semi-wild dogs, were given as gifts to the pharaohs from nations in the interior of Africa and can be seen in ancient Egyptian, Babylonian and Mesopotamian artifacts. A hound breed, Basenji were dispatched off-leash by African tribesmen to hunt and track small game.
In the late 1800s, the Basenji made its debut in the Western world when a pair was brought to England by an Explorer who planned to breed them, but they died shortly after their arrival. Between the late 19th Century and the late 1930s, several attempts to establish the breed proved unsuccessful. The tide finally turned in 1937 when a pair was brought to England. They produced one litter, but neither the puppies nor the female survived. The male, named Bois, was acquired by a Boston breeder and mated with a female named Congo, resulting in the first U.S.-bred Basenjis.
Fun Fact: The Basenji is thought to have been the inspiration for Anubis, the Egyptian god of mummification and the afterlife.
Size and Appearance – Shiba Inu Dog vs Basenji
The Shiba Inu is the smallest of the six original Japanese dog breeds. Males range in height from 14 to 17 inches, while females tend to be slightly smaller, 13 to 16 inches. They have a stocky, athletic build and their facial features are very similar to those of the fox.
The Shiba has a short, “double coat” of fur. The outercoat is coarse and straight, with guard hairs that protect the skin and are rain and snow repellent. The undercoat is soft, thick, and serves as a barrier to frigid winter temperatures, as does its tail, which it curls up to cover its face and nose while sleeping. Shibas have a grey, buff, or cream undercoat with an outercoat that is black and tan, red, or sesame (black-tipped red fur).
The Basenji is a small, slender dog with a wrinkled forehead, almond-shaped eyes, curled tail, erect ears, and an elegant neck. Males stand about 17 inches at the withers and weigh about 24 pounds, while females stand at 16 inches and weigh about 22 pounds.
All Basenji have white feet, chests and tail tips. The rest of their fur can come in several colors including red, brindle, black, tricolor and “trindle” (tricolor with brindle points).
Fun Fact: Shibas shed so much, the breed is a popular choice for people who spin dog fur for knitting.
Temperament and Family Life – Shiba Inu Dog vs Basenji
Shiba Inus are known for their bold, independent demeanor. Although they are loyal and affectionate to those who reciprocate their loyalty and affection, they can be guarded when dealing with strangers, and aggressive toward other canines. They are also quite possessive when it comes to their food, toys, and territory.
When a Shiba is unhappy or stressed, they will let out a loud, high-pitched “Shiba scream.” They will also make the same sound when they’re very excited or happy.
Shibas take pride in their cleanliness and constantly self-groom to maintain an unsoiled coat. Their compulsive nature makes housetraining easy. If their human takes them outside after meals and naps, some pups will even train themselves.
Staying true to their origins as a hound and pariah (wild) dog, Basenjis are some of the most independent, confident and clever canines around. They are alert, curious, energetic and quite capable of fending for themselves and devising a plan to get what they want, whether it’s a bone in a sealed garbage can, a pair of shoes on the top shelf of your walk-in closet, or a small animal on the other side of the fence. Well…especially if there’s a small creature on the other side of the fence. A Basenji should never be left alone with a cat or other small animal, unless it is a pet sibling. And although they tend to be standoffish with strangers, Basenjis are affectionate with their people and tend to form an attachment to a single family member.
Like the Shiba, the Basenji is considered a “barkless dog.” This is due to a uniquely shaped larynx. Although they can vocalize, they don’t do it often, and when they do, the sound is similar to a howl or yodel.
Another similarity between the Shiba and Basenji is their obsession with self-grooming. Like cats, Basenjis are meticulous when it comes to staying clean. Oh, and if you wanna take a walk in the rain, don’t bring your Basenji—they hate wet weather. As a matter of fact, they often refuse to go out on damp days. After all their hard work to stay clean, can you blame them?
Fun Fact: In 2004 a Shiba Inu Dog named Mari saved her puppies and her elderly human during an earthquake in Japan.
Trainability and Intelligence – Shiba Inu Dog vs Basenji
Although highly intelligent, Shibas have a reputation for being one of the most difficult breeds to train. They are quick learners but are stubborn, independent, and want to do things their own way, so training requires plenty of patience. Shiba humans must pay attention to their dog’s preferences and develop personalized training plans to suit their needs. One method is to use a bit of psychology to make the Shiba think that obedience training is his or her idea.
Aversion training should be avoided. Trust will be broken and the strong-willed Shiba will respond aggressively to this type of training. They will not give up, nor back down.
Shiba Inu Dogs and Basenjis are intelligent, but are difficult to train We could all use some help training them. Check out Brain Training for Dogs to learn how to use your dog’s natural intelligence to stop bad behavior.
Basenjis are not only intelligent—they’re down right “street smart.” This trait is key to their proficiency as hunting dogs. Because they were allowed to hunt off-leash, their innate ability to think for themselves and make decisions was heightened over time.
That said, according to Stanley Coren’s “The Intelligence of Dogs,” when it comes to following commands, the Basenji is the second least trainable dog. The ranking has nothing to do with actual aptitude, and everything to do with the Basenji’s strong-willed, self-reliant disposition.
Training a Basenji requires firm and consistent leadership. If given the chance, they will assume the alpha role if their owner or trainer is timid or inconsistent, but by the same token, a mutual respect must be forged for training to be successful. Early training and positive reinforcement are essential.
Exercise Needs – Shiba Inu Dog vs Basenji
The Shiba Inu is a moderately active breed that adapts well to different active lifestyles. In addition to being walked daily, they respond well to hiking, playing ball, slow jogging and climbing stairs, but of course, the exercise plan will vary depending on the disposition and energy level of the Shiba.
Since they are inclined to seek prey, it is very important to keep your Shiba on a simple leash when walking or hiking. If it is particularly excitable, a harness might be a more useful restraint.
High-energy breeds typically require more exercise than others, but because of its small size, the Basenji only needs one hour of exercise per day.
A daily exercise plan will include one hour-long walk or two 30 minute walks (leashed or harnessed, of course) supplemented by activities such as agility training, fetch, flyball, and tracking games. Scenting games, as well as puzzle and chew toys, are great ways to give your pup a much needed mental workout.
Fun Fact: Basenjis love to climb and are excellent at leaping vertically, a skill that evolved from scouting prey in the tall grasslands of Africa.
Health and Lifespan
Shibas are a particularly healthy breed overall and they have an average lifespan of 12 to 15 years, but like any other breed, they are vulnerable to certain diseases and infirmities.
Common health issues include eye disorders such as glaucoma, cataracts and progressive retinal atrophy. To be sure that there are no eye existing eye problems, it is important for Shiba Inus to visit the ophthalmologist regularly. Hip and knee conditions like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation, are also ailments that are seen more frequently in Shiba Inus than in other breeds, as is chylothorax (the accumulation of fluid in the chest cavity).
Female Shibas that have not been spayed are susceptible to pyometra, a serious bacterial infection of the uterus. Although this infection can occur in any female dog, it is seen more often in Shibas. Therefore, Shiba owners who do not plan to breed their females should be sure to have them spayed.
Basenjis have an average lifespan of 12 to 16 years. They are particularly susceptible to diseases such as Fanconi Syndrome(which can be easily misdiagnosed as diabetes as it affects their ability to break down sugars and proteins), malabsorption (a chronic allergic reaction to their food, similar to irritable bowel syndrome in humans) and hemolytic anemia (which affects the red blood cells and is often fatal).
Certain genetic eye conditions like progressive retinal atrophy (gradual deterioration of the retina), coloboma (a gap or hole in the eyeball), and persistent pupillary membrane (a condition in which strands of the fetal sac remain in the eyes) are also commonly seen in Basenji.
*This post may have affiliate links, which means I may receive commissions if you choose to purchase through links I provide (at no extra cost to you).