Shiba Inu vs Basenji: A Complete Comparison

Shiba Inu vs Basenji

If someone was to ask you ‘in a fight between a Japanese hunting dog and an African hunting hound, who would win?’, what would you reply?. Well, today I’ll enlighten you with the answer. We’ve all heard the phrase ‘a dog is a man’s best friend’, but which dog can be the perfect best friend to which human is the question that needs answering. Take my words as a guide to which dog is your ideal best mate, the Shiba Inu or the Basenji?


What are the main differences and similarities between a Shiba Inu and a Basenji?

Two fierce hunting dogs seem very alike. Maybe that’s how dogs perceive us too – humans who act the same, eat the same and talk the same. But in reality, humans are quite different, and so are dogs. So let’s talk about this for a moment, ‘what makes Basenji and Shiba Inu different?’.


Basenji dogs originated in Congo. They use scent and sight to hunt their targets. These dogs are quiet and shy, giving them the title of the ‘barkless dog’. Shiba Inu is a Japanese-originated hunting dog. Both of these breeds have a small size, but the Basenji has a straight-down tail, unlike the Shiba Inu, which has a gorgeous curled tail.

 Shiba Inu is the smallest Japanese breed of dog. Their athletic build and sly facial features make it resemble the fox a lot. Shibas usually come in lighter undercoats and slightly darker outer coats, that make them warm in winters and protect them from rain and snowfall. 

See also: Shiba Inu vs Korean Jindo

The Basenji is a small dog with almond-shaped eyes and erect ears. Their chest and feet have a snowy white color and the rest of their fur is made up of darker colors like black and brown.

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Have you ever met two siblings who look just alike but one of them is cranky and mean, while the other is affectionate and caring? I’m sure if you ever meet a Basenji and a Shiba Inu, you’ll get a very similar feeling. For two dogs who look alike, they both sure have their quirks.

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Both of these dogs are strong-willed, confident, and have an independent personalities. They make their own judgments about everything. However, a Basenji is an attention-seeking fellow, who craves affection from his family and any other human in contact. 

A Shiba Inu also loves its family, but gaining its trust might be a long process. They’re territorial about their food, stuff, and space.


Both the dogs look very similar to human eyes, but if you focus on the details, you can spot the differences. Basenjis are slightly larger than Shiba Inus. A Basenji has a height of 16-18 inches while a Shiba is 13-17 inches. And therefore Basenjis weigh more as well, 20-24 pounds. Whereas Shibas weigh only 15-23 pounds.

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Training a dog can be a hard task, especially if the dog is a Shiba Inu. This intelligent breed can think on its feet but when it comes to training, a Shiba can cause a lot of trouble. They’re stubborn and like to make their way. 

Understanding Shiba Inu is one of the most crucial parts of their training. A very good psychological move is to make the dog believe that the training was their idea. That will give it a sense of control and independence. 

Basenjis are also intelligent and clever. They are also extremely difficult to train as they are strong-willed and self-reliant. To train them, don’t exert too much authority but try to gain its trust. At the same time, do not be timid enough to let it presume the alpha role.


Shiba Inus tend to live a longer life than Basenjis. A Basenji will live up to 10-12 years and a Shiba Inu can live for 12-16 years. However, a Basenji has very few health issues to worry about. Shiba Inu are prone to get many health issues such as allergies, spinning, and glaucoma. Veterinary Ophthalmology volume 9 talks about glaucoma in Shiba Inus dogs in depth.

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Which One Is Best For You?

Hopefully, you’ve figured out which dog is the one for you. But if you haven’t, I have a few more words of wisdom. Both of these breeds are extremely loyal and independent. However, a very big difference is their coating which can be a deal-breaker or maker for a few people. 

Basenjis have a short coat that will not shed, making them ideal for people with allergies. For people as sensitive as me (who get an allergic reaction from a speck of dust), Basenjis are the way to go. 

However, as predicted, the lack of shedding makes these dogs high maintenance.

The size also plays a role, because if you’re looking for a smaller pet, Shiba Inu might be the one.

Are Shiba Inus and Basenjis Related?

Looking at cute pictures of these dogs did get me thinking, ‘are they cousins or something?’. Well, if you’re thinking the same thing, no need to google it. Even though they look similar, they both originated at drastically different times and places. 

The Basenji’s origins can be traced back to 2 BC, in Congo and the Shiba Inu originated in Japan in 300 BC. So them being related seems like a long stretch.

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Can Shiba Inu and Basenjis Get Along?

This is a very easy question to answer. Can two different people get along? They might or they might not. Depends on who they are and what they do and what their beliefs are. In the same way, we can’t make any such generalizations about a breed of dogs. 

It depends on the personality of the dog, its age, health, and sex. But they both are similar dogs with strong-willed independent personalities. It’s very much possible that they both will end up bickering. The best way to know the answer is to get to know your dog and understand it and make it socialize with other dogs.