The Basenji German Shepherd Mix

The Basenji German Shepherd mix, or a German Shepenji, is an intelligent, loyal, and athletic breed. They’re not very common but are an adorable delight. Here’s what you need to know about this mix!

The German Shepherd Breed

German Shepherd dogs are renowned for their incredible intelligence, bravery, reliability, and immense loyalty to those they trust. They’re widely considered the finest working dogs that the canine species has to offer. 

This breed strikes an iconic appearance with graceful curves and a muscular, agile form. The large dog is renowned for its willingness to risk its life for the sake of others, which has made them famous as guard dogs and loyal companions.

However, they don’t give their friendship freely, judging each person and animal they meet with aloofness before settling into trust.

German Shepherds are known for being a good fit for experienced pet owners who are willing to provide a lot of activity, exercise, and enrichment.

The Basenji Breed

The Basenji is easily recognizable by its compact, adorable appearance. But what they’re even more famous for is the fact that they don’t bark – they yodel and chortle!

Originating from Africa, the Basenji is a unique hound-type dog with a shiny, short coat and a cute curled tail. A wrinkled forehead and emotive eyes also make the Baseni often seem to display human-like emotions!

Basenji dogs are very fastidious creatures, with a tendency to groom themselves a lot and be picky, poised, and somewhat demanding. They’re often described as cat-like in personality.

They’re also loyal, intelligent, and have a singular devotion to those they trust most.

Basenji dogs aren’t commonly owned, but they have quite a cult following. They’re great for quiet households and more experienced pet owners who can handle their energy and training demands.

How These Breeds Mix Together

Basenjis and German Shepherds look nothing alike at all, which makes mixing them a bit of an adventure. Their main features in common are their muscular, lean bodies, but that’s where the similarities end. 

This means that the breeds can mix together in a vast number of different ways. There’s a vast range of possible coat colors and features that a mix of these two dogs can have.

A German Shepenji can bear an equal resemblance to both of its parents or most to just one of them. 

Essentially, it’s not entirely possible to determine in advance how this mixed breed will look! Even puppies within the same litter of this mix may not look like siblings at all.

This unpredictability is part of why the breed isn’t that common.

Size:

Basenjis are compact dogs, and German Shepherds are large. When mixed, the results can be anywhere from a relatively small pup to a bigger one, depending on how genes are transferred.

In general, you can expect a Basenji German Shepherd mix to have a height of between 45 and 55 cm for males and 40 and 50 cm for females.

In other words, the mix loses the larger size of the German Shepherd, going to a more compact appearance. This may not be the case for all mixes of these breeds, but it’s true for many of them.

You can expect a German Shepenji to weigh anywhere from 22 to 90 pounds, depending on their specific height and length.

Grooming Requirements:

The coat that a Basenji German Shepherd mix ends up with can depend on each dog. However, mostly, you should expect moderate requirements for grooming.

Here are some aspects of grooming to keep in mind.

1.   Brushing 

German Shepherds have medium double coats with a soft undercoat and a close-lying, harsh, and dense outer coat. Brushing is easy, and the coat is simple to maintain, needing about one or two brushing per week to get rid of dirt and loose hair. 

Basenjis, on the other hand, have a very short coat that needs just a quick brushing with a soft-bristle brush or grooming mitt per week to distribute healthy oils.

As such, a mix of the two breeds will likely require a couple of brushes per week, with occasional shedding depending on the thickness of the coat. No clipping of fur is required.

2.   Bathing

German Shepherds and Basenjis both don’t need to bathe often unless they get into something very messy or dirty.

A German Shepenji will, therefore, not need frequent baths either. Too much bathing is likely to dry out its skin and cause irritation.

3.   Claw Trimming

Both Basenjis and German Shepherds have claws that don’t wear down on their own. Trimming and grinding down these nails is crucial to ensure that their walking is not affected by too-long nails.

Expect that level of necessary care for a mix of the two breeds, too.

Strength:

Basenjis and German Shepherds are both highly athletic and energetic dogs. As such, a German Shepenji is typically quite strong for its size, though this will depend on the individual dog.

These dogs, while not as strong as their Shepherd parents, can use their high energy to pull, push, or carry items that can seem impressive for their smaller stature!

Speed:

Once again, we have to look at the athleticism of both Basenji and German Shepherd dogs. Both of them love to run and burn off their energy at quick speeds.

Just like with strength, a mix of these breeds will lose some of the iconic speed of their Shepherd parents but will maintain an impressive rush for their size.

Are German Shepherd Basenji Mixes Good Family Dogs?

Basenji German Shepherd mixes can be wonderful family dogs, but they need to be trained well first, especially if there will be very young children around.

These dogs can have sharp and unpredictable personalities, so proper socialization and training is needed from a young age to allow them to be good family dogs.

When trained well, a German Shepenji can be a fierce protector and loving guardian of its loved ones. Both parent breeds form deep, close bonds with their owners and families, so you can expect the same from the mixed mutt.

Basenji standing on a tree

However, it’s worth noting that Basenjis are often considered more dangerous dogs and that the mix of a herding and hunting dog can lead to some unpredictability. Most Basenji mixes don’t make great family dogs. 

With that being said, the Shepenji is one of the few exceptions to that rule. The German Shepherd’s reliability in the mixed breed allows for a protective, gentle personality.

Still, if you’re worried about the safety of very young, overly reactive children, other dogs may be better suited to your family.

Health:

Both German Shepherds and Basenjis have their fair share of health concerns, as do most purebred dogs. The benefit of mutts is that they often have stronger protection against the breed-related troubles of their parents.

But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be careful, as the German Shepenji will have to contend with the issues of both large and small dogs.

German Shepherds are at risk for:

  • Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Degenerative myelopathy
  • Bloat

Basenjis are at risk for:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • IPSID
  • Fanconi syndrome
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Hip dysplasia

Most responsible breeders will screen for these issues before breeding and distributing their dogs and puppies. However, it’s a good idea to speak to your vet about any concerns you might have about a Basenji German Shepherd mix.

Tests you may want to schedule are:

  • Elbow evaluations
  • Hip evaluations
  • Thyroid evaluations
  • Eye evaluations
  • Fanconi Syndrome DNA tests
  • PRA-BJ1 DNA tests

Lifespan :

Basenji German Shepherd mixes should be expected to live for up to 11 to 14 years with proper care. The aforementioned recommended health screenings, proper care, nutrition, and exercise will give you the best shot at a long-lived dog of this breed. 

Trainability:

A Basenji German Shepherd mix is going to be extremely intelligent, but intelligence does not always transfer to trainability! 

German Shepherds are great at learning in a consistent, reward-based training environment and are usually eager to please.

Basenjis aren’t as keen to please, preferring a ton of positive training techniques, encouragements, and rewards through short 10-minute training sessions.

As such, you should expect a German Shepenji to need a positive environment for learning that is based on rewards as motivation. You should ensure that training sessions are short and concise so they don’t get bored, and you have to be firm and consistent to ensure good behavior!

Both parent dogs require early socialization and puppy training classes are highly recommended.

A Basenji needs these classes more than most other breeds, and regardless, you should continue regular obedience training for the rest of a Basenji German Shepherd mix’s life.

AKC Recognition:

The Basenji German Shepherd mix is not currently recognized as an official breed by the AKC. The foundation recognizes the Basenji and German Shepherd separately, but not as a mixed breed.

This is likely because the AKC rarely catalogs mutts or mixed dogs unless they become extremely popular.

Exercise Requirements:

Basenji German Shepherd mixes are the puppies of two extremely athletic breeds! This means that their exercise requirements are extremely high.

They need long daily play sessions and regular daily walks to burn off enough energy to prevent misbehavior. 

This breed is also likely to enjoy more involved, focused activities, such as agility courses, tracking exercises, and other challenging forms of sport.

A mix of mental stimulation thrown in with physical activity is ideal.

How Popular Is The Basenji German Shepherd Mix?

The Basenji German Shepherd mix is not a popular mixed breed of dog. Some people have never even heard of the mix!

Basenjis themselves are a lesser-known dog breed and can be challenging pets, so mixing that with a German Shepherd’s intelligence is not something many aim to do.

Most people are also hesitant to mix a herding dog with a hunting dog, as this can create some unpredictable traits.

On top of that, Basenji and German Shepherds are rather different dogs in appearance, so they’re not commonly bred together as it’s difficult to determine how the resulting mix will look.

Some of these mixes completely lose their shepherd-like features. Others barely resemble Basenjis at all. As such, people rarely mix these dogs because they can guarantee the type of result.

Despite their lack of larger popularity, among Basenji mixes, German Shepenjis are loved by those in the know. They’re not entirely obscure – just a little lesser-known!

Conclusion

A Basenji German Shepherd mix may be a demanding dog when it comes to energy, healthy, and training. But in turn, the uncommon breed will reward you with unconditional love, protection, and loyalty in their intelligent, steadfast ways.

Due to the vast differences between the parent breed, you can’t truly predict how your mix will come out, but that’s part of the fun!

If you are interested in considering other unique German Shepherd Mixes, check out the Irish Wolfhound GSD mix, the GSD Catahoula Mix, and the Whippet GSD Mix.

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