The Africanis: An Ancient African Dog Breed with a Rich History

Dogs have been around since the dawn of civilization, providing loyal service and unwavering companionship. One such breed of dog that has stood the test of time is the Africanis. This peculiar breed of dog has its origins in Africa and boasts a rich and fascinating history.

In this article, we will travel 7000 years back and explore everything you need to know about the Africanis. We will go through the breed’s origins, ancestry, personality, characteristics, and health.

Origins of the Africanis

The Africanis is believed to be one of the oldest breeds of dogs in the world. These dogs probably originated from African wild dogs, which were tamed by early humans and bred for specific purposes.

According to dog experts Johan Gallant and Joseph Sithole, “The Africanis is the real African dog – shaped in Africa, for Africa.” Thanks to the efforts of these canine enthusiasts, the breed is no longer seen as a mongrel and enjoys the status and popularity of a distinct dog breed.

Early Ancestors of the Breed

The earliest ancestors of the Africanis breed were bred in southern Africa to serve as guard dogs and hunting companions for early humans. The breed’s characteristics were developed over centuries, as the dogs adapted to the environment in which they were bred.

The Africanis is a highly adaptable breed that can thrive in various environments, from rural farms to urban settings. They are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and agility, which make them excellent working dogs.

Due to their hunting instincts, Africanis dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation to stay healthy and happy. They enjoy playing fetch, going for walks, and engaging in other activities that challenge their minds and bodies.

The Africanis in Ancient Egypt

The Africanis also played a significant role in ancient Egypt, where they were revered as sacred animals. They were often depicted in the artwork of the time, playing various roles in Egyptian society, such as guardians of tombs and hunting partners for pharaohs. The Egyptians believed that the Africanis had supernatural powers and could protect them from evil spirits.

Today, the Africanis is still a highly respected breed in many African cultures. They are often used as working dogs on farms and in rural areas, where they help to protect livestock and assist with various tasks. Africanis are also popular as pets, due to their loyal nature and ancient heritage.

Spread Across the African Continent

The Africanis breed spread across Africa, adapting to different conditions and becoming integral parts of various cultures. These dogs have played different roles, from hunting and guarding to providing companionship.

Despite their long history, the Africanis breed is not recognized by major kennel clubs, such as the American Kennel Club or the United Kennel Club. However, there is an organization, The Africanis Society of Southern Africa, that works on preserving and promoting the breed.

Physical Characteristics of the Africanis

The Africanis breed has distinct physical characteristics that make them highly adaptable to their environment. They are a breed of dog that has evolved over thousands of years to survive in the harsh African climate.

Size and Build

Africanis dogs are medium to large in size, ranging between 20 and 24 inches in height and weighing around 55 to 100 pounds. This breed is agile, muscular, and built for stamina and endurance. Their body is well-proportioned, with a deep chest and strong legs that allow them to run and jump with ease.

Coat and Color

The Africanis breed’s coat is short and sleek, making it easy to maintain. These dogs come in different colors, including brown, black, brindle, white, and cream.

The coat color of the Africanis breed is often determined by the environment in which they live. For example, dogs that live in the savannah tend to have a lighter coat color than those that live in the forest.

Temperament and Behavior

In addition to their physical characteristics, the Africanis breed is also known for their intelligence and loyalty. They are highly trainable and make excellent guard dogs. They are also known for their affectionate nature and love to be around people.

Natural Instincts

Africanis dogs are born with a natural hunting instinct, which makes them excellent hunters and guardians. They have a keen sense of smell and can track prey from miles away. In the past, Africanis dogs were used for hunting game, such as antelope and wild boar.

One of the most fascinating things about Africanis dogs is their ability to adapt to different environments. They have a high tolerance for heat and can survive in arid regions with little water. They are also able to survive in colder climates, thanks to their protective coat.

Socialization and Training

Socialization and training are critical for Africanis dogs as they can be wary of strangers if not appropriately socialized. They are naturally protective of their families and can be suspicious of strangers. With proper socialization, they learn to differentiate between friend and foe.

Africanis dogs are highly intelligent and respond well to positive reinforcement training techniques. They are eager to please their owners and enjoy learning new things. They excel in obedience training and can be trained for a variety of tasks.

Compatibility with Other Animals and Children

Africanis dogs have an affinity for children and make excellent playmates. They are gentle and patient with kids and love to play fetch and other games. They are also protective of children and will keep a watchful eye on them.

Africanis dogs get along well with most animals and can be friendly to others when appropriately introduced. However, they do have a strong prey drive and may not be suitable for homes with small pets, such as rabbits or guinea pigs.

The Africanis as a Working Dog

The Africanis breed is highly skilled and versatile, making it an excellent working breed.

Hunting and Herding Abilities

Africanis dogs are skilled hunters. They are especially suited to hunting small game, and their agility and stamina make them formidable opponents. Africanis dogs also excel at herding livestock, thanks to their intelligence and natural herding instincts.

Guarding and Protection

The Africanis breed is protective of their family and property, making excellent guard dogs. They are protective of their home and will alert their family if they sense any danger.

Adaptability to Harsh Environments

The Africanis breed is adapted to different environments, making them an excellent choice for working in challenging environments such as farms and ranches. Their resilience and adaptability allow them to work in harsh conditions and make them a valuable asset in many areas of work.

Climbing Trees

One unique feature of the Africanis breed is their ability to climb trees, a trait that has led to the name “tree dog.” This ability has come in handy when hunting for game and escaping predators in their natural habitat.

Health & Lifespan

The Africanis is a generally healthy dog breed with an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years. With proper care, many breed members can live for two years more than the average.

Africanis dogs are prone to some health conditions, such as:

  • Dermoid Sinus: A congenital condition that manifests with vertebral malformations and deformities, causing neurological signs and symptoms
  • Eye Problems: Entropion (inward inversion of the eyelids) and ectropion (outward eyelid inversion) are common issues in the breed


The Africanis is a fascinating breed of dog that has played a significant role in African history and culture. Their unique story and characteristics make them an essential part of African society.

Africanis dogs have adapted to their environment and have developed a strong survival instinct. They are known for being independent and self-sufficient. Despite their independence, they are also loyal and affectionate towards their owners.

Scroll to Top