Basenji Noises: What They Mean And How To React

Basenji is a unique breed of dog with distinctive vocals.

Unlike many dogs, Basenjis rarely bark and will make different noises to communicate with their owners.

As a new Basenji owner, you’re probably left wondering what the different Basenji noises mean.

So, what do the different Basenji noises mean?

Depending on the situation in which a Basenji makes noise, it can be an expression of joy, sadness, or loneliness.

The key is to identify the sound and the circumstances under which the dog produced it.

As a Basenji owner, you must know what different vocals mean.

Knowing what your Basenji insinuates by different vocals will make it easy for you to respond appropriately.

Keep reading to learn the different Basenji noises and what they mean.


Why Don’t Basenjis Bark?

The reason why Basenjis don’t bark is still a topic under research.

Scientists have not been able to pinpoint the reason why this is so.

However, people have given different explanations for this condition.

First, the Basenji’s larynx is shaped differently from that of other dogs.

Basenjis have a shallow laryngeal ventricle that limits their vocal folds’ abilities to vibrate loud enough to produce the barking sound.

The theory of the shallow larynx was reached after several autopsies on Basenjis in the United States.

Others believe that Basenjis are descendants of an ancient breed of dog that did not bark.

Over time, the gene that makes dogs bark became dormant in Basenjis.

Lastly, some people think barking is not a natural communication method for Basenjis.

They believe this dog breed uses other communication methods, such as howling and yodeling.

Either way, by not barking, Basenjis could survive in the semi-arid African areas.

Such areas are full of predators that threaten Basenjis, especially the puppies.

Moreover, this quality made them excellent hunting and watchdogs in African villages.

Basenji Noises

Basenji Noises and What They Mean

Basenjis are not silent dogs.

They make different vocalizations to communicate with their owners and other dogs.

However, if you’re new to a Basenji, you might not understand these vocalizations and how to react.

The common Basenji noises are:

Human-Like Screams

You’ve heard of instances where police officers have been called to investigate a baby’s cry only to find out it was coming from a Basenji.

These screams are high-pitched and can go on for several minutes.

They usually happen when the dog is alone or wants attention.

The best way to respond is by petting or giving them a treat.


Basenjis also howl like wolves.

You’ll notice your furry friend howling when he wants to go outside or looking for company.

He also howls when sad or lonely.

The best way to respond is by letting him out or spending more time together.

When a Basenji howls, his mouth is usually closed.

The dog will tilt his head back and produce a howling sound that can be eerie, especially at night.


A yodel is a long, drawn-out howl that Basenjis make.

Yodeling happens when two notes are produced alternately and quickly.

Yodeling usually happens when the dog is excited, such as when he sees another dog or his favorite person.

The following are the main types of Basenji yodels:

Welcoming Yodel

Your Basenji will make this noise when lonely.

In most cases, it signifies that you’ve left the dog alone for too long.

The dog makes this yodel to get your attention.

Moreover, a Basenji makes a welcome yodel when he misses his pack.

If you live in an apartment, your Basenji might yodel to get the attention of people living next door.

The best way to respond is by spending more time with your furry friend or getting him a dog companion.

Challenge Yodel

A Basenji makes the challenge yodel when he meets another dog.

It sounds like a warning and is usually followed by growls.

The best way to respond is by keeping your dog on a leash and walking away from the other pup.

Do Not Disturb Yodel

This yodel sounds like an extended “hmmm” noise.

Basenjis make this yodel when they want to be alone.

The best way to respond is by giving the dog some space.


Basenjis also whine when they want attention or are sad.

Whining is a high-pitched noise that can be annoying, especially at night.

The best way to respond is by spending more time with your furry friend or getting him a dog companion.

How to Interpret Basenji Noises

Basenji noises come with body languages like facial expressions, eye movements, and ear positions.

The effective way to interpret these noises is by paying attention to the dog’s overall body language.

For example, a Basenji that whines and has his ears back probably wants attention.

On the other hand, a Basenji that yodels with his mouth open and tail wagging is probably excited after seeing another dog.

If you’re new to the dog, spend time quietly with him to learn his body language.

This way, you’ll be able to see his physical responses to various situations in the environment.

Generally, the best way to respond to Basenji noises is by spending more time with him.

This will help you build a bond and understand his needs better.

Frequently Asked Questions

What sounds does a Basenji make?

Basenjis are vocal dogs that don’t bark.

However, they make growling, whining, and yodeling sounds.

These sounds are used for communication purposes with their owners or other dogs.

Why do Basenjis yodel?

Basenjis yodel for various reasons, like when seeking attention or when annoyed.

It’s your responsibility to assess the situation under which the dog yodels and react appropriately.

Bottom Line

Basenjis make noise to communicate with their owners or other dogs.

You can interpret these noises by observing the dog’s body language, like ear positions.

Spend more time with your dog to build a bond and understand his needs better.

This will help you react appropriately to the different noises he makes.

Failure to respond to your dog’s needs can lead to behavioral problems like constant biting.

Megan Turner
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