African dogs are often ancient breeds, frequently descended from aboriginal landraces and strongly associated with the native people of their countries or geographical areas. Many of these dogs are rather independent souls, used to lives of want and privation that have given them any number of unique and unusual personality traits.

Dog breeding standards in Africa are upheld by national Kennel Clubs, as well as the Fédération Cynologique Internationale, the international federation of dog breeders.

Africanis (across southern Africa)

Size: Medium/Large

Height: 50-62 cm (20-24 inches)

Weight: 25-45 kg (55-100 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Short; in any colour, pattern or combination

Life Expectancy: 9-12 years

Type: Domesticated wild dog



A landrace of dogs native to southern Africa, there are still so many large feral populations of Africanis dogs that some consider this dog to be purely a free-ranging wild animal. However, they have also proved adaptable enough for life with human owners, as well as effective at tasks such as herding, guarding and hunting. A well-socialised Africanis will generally be gentle, patient and very friendly with people of all ages, although care needs to be taken with this breed as they are not particularly affectionate and still strongly prize their sense of personal space. When smothered or otherwise deprived of this, Africanis can occasionally become unruly or even reactive. They are also strongly territorial and require good, consistent training and socialisation to ensure this doesn’t become problematic.

Aidi (Morocco)

Size: Medium

Height: 52-62 cm (20-24 inches)

Weight: 23-25 kg (50-55 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Thick and medium length; in black, brown, cream, sable, red, white or brindle, all possibly with white markings 

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Type: Livestock guardian

aidi atlas mountain dog


Otherwise known as an Atlas Mountain Dog or Atlas Shepherd, the Aidi is an energetic, powerful and alert breed. They are so sensitive, jumpy and ready for action in fact that this breed requires plenty of early training and socialisation in order to really be suitable for life as a family pet. They do, however, make outstanding watchdogs and are happiest as a pet when they are given plenty of regular tasks to complete. Their desire for work is the key to their versatility, with Aidi frequently employed throughout Morocco as hunting dogs, watchdogs and police dogs. In common with most livestock guarding dogs, the Aidi requires a great deal of regular exercise and mental stimulation.

Armant (Egypt)

Size: Medium

Height: 53-58 cm (21-23 inches)

Weight: 23-27 kg (51-60 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Long, rough and shaggy; in black, black and tan, grey, greyish yellow or tricolour

Life Expectancy: 12-14 years

Type: Herding dog


Also known as the Egyptian Sheepdog, the Armant is thought to be descended from Briard dogs brought to North Africa by Napoleon Bonaparte’s armies. Largely unknown outside of its homeland, the Armant is widely used throughout Egypt as a herding dog and a guard dog. They are calm, gentle and playful dogs with a great joie de vivre and they make excellent family pets. However, in common with many herding dogs, they do not like to spend extended periods on their own and are known to become mischievous and destructive when they are bored or lonely. The Armant requires lots of regular exercise and mentally enriching play or regular tasks to do, so are best recommended for active owners ready to have a dog at the centre of their daily life.

Azawakh (Mali/Niger/Burkina Faso)

Size: Medium/Large

Height: 60-74 cm (24-29 inches)

Weight: 15-25 kg (33-55 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Short and fine; in fawn with white, red and white or brindle and white

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Type: Sighthound



A greyhound-like dog closely related to the North African Sloughi, the Azawakh is closely associated with the nomadic Toureg people of the southern Sahara. These rapid dogs are capable of running at speeds up to 40 mph and have been employed to hunt both hare and gazelle. Used to life in very harsh and unforgiving environments, Azawakh are noted for an independent spirit and a much hardier nature than most sighthound breeds. The Azawakh’s temperament owes a lot to their upbringing and circumstances, and can vary from being a cuddly lap dog to a fierce, lonesome hunter. As a result, this breed benefits very strongly from lots of regular socialisation and top-up training. Once they find a favoured owner, the Azawakh will tend to be extremely loyal to them and will want to spend as much time as possible in their company.

Basenji (Democratic Republic of the Congo)

Size: Small

Height: 40-43 cm (15½-17 inches)

Weight: 9.5-11 kg (21-24 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Short and fine; in red and white, brown and white, black and white, brindle and white or tricolour

Life Expectancy: 12-16 years

Type: Domesticated wild dog



Descended from a landrace of dogs in central Africa, the Basenji is particularly famous for being a non-barking dog. They are alert, curious and energetic animals who are reserved with strangers and tend to form a very strong bond with one particular owner, who they will follow around all day if possible. They are not good with other animals due to a particularly high prey drive and, unusually for dogs, are not keen on wet weather: a Basenji may well refuse to go outdoors if it is raining. Basenji are keen climbers, often standing on their back legs and easily able to scale wire or chain-link fences. They are also rather difficult to train, with their intelligence focussed on problem solving rather than completing tasks they have been given by others. All of this adds up to a dog not recommended for inexperienced – or impatient – owners.

Boerboel (South Africa)

Size: Giant

Height: 55-66 cm (22-26 inches)

Weight: 68-91 kg (150-200 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Short and smooth; in red, brown, fawn, brindle or black

Life Expectancy: 10-12 years

Type: Mastiff



The massive, muscular and intimidating Boerboel are confident and dominant dogs, used for generations for the guarding and protection of property and family throughout South Africa. They are dogs with a rather unfortunate past and reputation, seen by many as a tool of white oppression and a reminder of the country’s divided past during the Apartheid years. When well-socialised, a Boerboel is an affectionate, gentle and intelligent dog that is easy to train and loves to be given a job to do. However, this breed requires a very strong, confident and capable owner to keep their Boerboel aware of their place within the pack and their role in family life. Without this, Boerboels can very easily become a menace, or even worse.

Coton de Tuléar (Madagascar)

Size: Very Small/Small

Height: 22-30 cm (9-12 inches)

Weight: 3.5-6 kg (8-13 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Medium to long and fluffy; in white, white and grey, tan, black or tricolour

Life Expectancy: 14-16 years

Type: Toy dog

Coton de Tulear


These small, characterful puffball dogs are believed to have arrived in Madagascar after a shipwreck in the Malagasy channel. Coton de Tuléar are playful, affectionate and intelligent dogs who are very eager to please. This not only makes them easy to train, but can also mean they are very entertaining: Coton de Tuléar will often walk on their hind legs to please and amuse their owners. They are full of energy and love to run, swim and play. This breed makes for an excellent and very adaptable family pet but be advised: Coton de Tuléar are curiously nocturnal dogs who become particularly active once the evening begins.

Rhodesian Ridgeback (Zimbabwe)

Size: Very Large/Giant

Height: 61-74 cm (24-29 inches)

Weight: 36-48 kg (79-106 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Short, dense and glossy; in wheaten with a dark muzzle

Life Expectancy: 10-13 years

Type: Scenthound/Guard dog

Rhodesian Ridgeback


Also known as the African Lion Dog, these sizeable dogs have been used to hunt lions on the plains of Africa for generations. Despite this, they are quiet and gentle dogs by nature, although their seemingly laid-back demeanour can disappear in a flash if provoked. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent dogs who are easy to train, although they can have a streak of independence which can make learning new skills a frustrating experience for everyone involved. Faithful, playful and affectionate, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are good with children and other animals but naturally aloof with strangers. This is not a dog for small homes or inactive owners: Rhodesian Ridgebacks love to spend time outdoors and can become quite impossible without it.

Sloughi (across North Africa)

Size: Medium/Large

Height: 61-72 cm (24-28 inches)

Weight: 18-28 kg (40-62 lbs)

Coat and Colour: Short and smooth; in fawn and white

Life Expectancy: 12-15 years

Type: Sighthound



Also known as an Arabian Greyhound, the Sloughi is strongly associated with the Berber people and is a common dog all around Libya, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. This ancient breed is depicted in both cave paintings and Egyptian hieroglyphics and have been used for hunting, guarding and companionship for thousands of years. In common with a number of sighthound breeds, Sloughis have a rather regal and aloof bearing and are noted for their distrust of strangers. This strongly contrasts with their loving and affectionate behaviour with their families, where the Sloughi will commonly have one specific favourite owner. They are generally very calm and friendly pets, but are sensitive animals who retain a number of primitive instincts and a strong prey drive, meaning they often require an unusually high amount of training and socialisation for a dog of this type.