7 Large African Dog Breeds

7 Large African Dog Breeds

Last Updated: August 18, 2023

In this article you will know the answer to the query “7 Large African Dog Breeds“.

The continent of Africa is huge. The space is large enough for the U.S China and India to fit comfortably. 

In spite of such a vast area it may surprise some that there are only 11 dog breeds that originated in Africa. 

7 Large African Dog Breeds

Especially since research has shown that dogs were domesticated in Africa first. 

My purpose in this article is to highlight seven of the largest African dog breeds.

Among these breeds the largest and heaviest is the Boerboel with its 28-inch height and 200-pound weight making it one of the bulkiest dogs found on any continent. 

The Basenji is the smallest breed on my list standing 17 inches tall and weighing 24 pounds.

A motley crew of breeds exists between these two-some heavyweights others lighter.

The biggest breed is at the top of my list.


You might want to consider a Boerboel as your next pet if you’re looking for a large guard dog. Its pretty intimidating to look at them as an adult male can reach 28 inches (71 cm) in height and weigh between 110 and 200 pounds (50 – 90 kg). A burglar should avoid a house where theres a Boerboel as this is a no-nonsense dog that inherited its guarding skills from his ancestors in South Africa. 

Dutch settlers in South Africa in the 1600s desperately needed fierce animals to protect their farms from predators which is how this dog got its name. In order to create a strong confident guard dog bulldogs and mastiffs were bred together to create the Boerboel. Old South African legends claim that Boer dogs are strong enough to kill a lion but according to experts with the AKC such claims might be a bit far-fetched. Boerboels are said to be able to kill leopards at most. This is still a good choice for anyone looking to protect his home from bipedal intruders. 

Despite their intimidating appearance Boerboels do make excellent pets as they are smart highly-trained and very affectionate with their immediate family. This large hard-working dog needs ample exercise and a large backyard where he can run freely. 

Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are fast and athletic dogs that you would not want to mess with. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are descendants of ferocious South African hunting dogs belonging to the Khoikhoi tribe that lived in the Cape Peninsula area. A variety of European guard dogs were crossed with this native dog when Dutch settlers arrived in Southern Rhodesia (modern Zimbabwe). Rhodesian Ridgebacks are closely related to Great Danes hence their impressive stature. Typical males weigh between 88 and 110 pounds (40 and 50 kilograms) and reach heights of 25 to 31 inches (63 to 79 kilograms). 

His name is derived from a ridge of hair growing backward on his back. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a short dense coat that varies in color from light wheaten to deep crimson.

These dogs make excellent guard dogs. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are friendly and loyal to their owners but they watch foreigners with suspicion even if they do not attack without provocation. 

They like learning new things so they are easy to train but they have a strong sense of justice so if they believe they have been punished unfairly they will suffer greatly. 


A guard dog like this isnot your typical one for sure. Azawakhs look thin you can almost feel their ribcages under the short fine coat however he is quite athletic and extremely quick.

Azawakhs originate from the Western coast of Africa and are closely related to the Tuareg and other nomadic groups in such countries as Mali Nigeria and Burkina Faso. A dog of this breed was used as a sighthound in the past.

These dogs are referred to locally as “idii n’ illeli’ or the sighthound of the free. Instead of using scent they spot prey and sprint after it at a speed of 40 miles per hour. Due to its long legs an adult male stands 25 to 29 in (64 to 74 cm) tall but weighs only 44 to 55 lbs (20 to 15 kg).

When they meet strangers Azawakh dogs keep their distance from them because of their attachment to their owners. 

Considering the weather in your area is important when choosing such a pet. Azawakhs dislike rain and cold weather since they live in the desert.


Despite being hunting dogs originally Basenjis make good pets and are low-maintenance. Despite their high exercise needs they’re very energetic and enjoy practicing their skills by chasing interesting scents.

It is said that Basenjis come from the Congo where they’re called savage dogs or jumpers. Because these dogs are not that big they need to jump a lot to spot their prey hence the name.

The average adult male stands around 17 inches tall (43 cm) and weighs no more than 24 pounds (11 kg). In hunting season it is not uncommon to see a Basenji standing on two feet like a meerkat. 

Dogs with Basenji characteristics tend to howl and yodel more than bark. The reason they cannot bark is that they have a very strange-shaped larynx which prevents them from doing so. Barking would have attracted predators to the nomad owners of the Basenji so they were bred not to bark. If you live in an apartment building this characteristic makes them a good choice as pets.  


You would not find a faster dog anywhere else. Sloughi or Arabian Greyhound belongs to the sighthound family and when they see their prey they can dash as they pursue them they reached speeds of up to 32 mph (50).

The Sloughi dogs originate in Morocco Algeria and Libya where they were used by Berbers and Bedouins to hunt hares gazelles and foxes. The average Sloughi male is 24 – 29 inches tall and weighs 40 – 63 pounds (18 – 28 kilograms). 

There are many colors of this breed ranging from light sand to light fawn sometimes with a black mask on their heads. When they are affectionate with their owners they are good with kids though not small ones that do not know boundaries. 


Saluki dogs are one of the most elegant sighthound breeds and their origins lie in the Middle East (Iraq Syria Lebanon Israel and Palestine) though they are closely related to Afghan hounds than other African hunting dogs. In males this breed grows up to 23 – 28 inches (58 – 71 cm) tall and weighs 40 – 60 pounds (18 – 27 kg). Like sighthounds Saluki dogs have long (and extremely fast) legs and their coat colors range from pure white to tricolored coats of white black and tan. 

It is estimated that a Saluki dog achieved a speed of 68.8 km/h (42.8 mph) which made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the worlds fastest dog. Such a dog needs to be well-trained as you cannot catch him if it does not come when called. However they are very devoted as pets and can even live in apartments as long as they are given a lot of opportunities to exercise and even chase a squirrel to satisfy their hunting instincts. 

African Wild Dog

The African Wild Dog also known as the painted wolf due to its large bat-like ears and patchy coat is one of the worlds most endangered mammals. A similar type of dog can be found in the Southern part of the African continent but their numbers are rapidly declining due to the loss of their natural habitat and infectious diseases. The African Wild dog can grow up to 30 inches (76 cm) in height and weigh between 40 and 70 lbs (18 – 31 kg). 

Known as opportunistic predators they live in packs ranging from 10 to 40 members. Most of the time they hunt gazelles.

A second reason for the extinction of this breed is that they attack farm animals without hesitation which is another reason why farmers shoot them on sight.

As opposed to many other social animals female African Wild Dogs leave their packs once they reach sexual maturity. It is a very clever way of preventing inbreeding because they join other packs and expel some of the females. 

It is not uncommon for African mythology to place African wild dogs at the root of death. Native Americans believed that after death the gods could transform them into wild dogs and to this day local hunters smear the body fluids of these dogs onto their feet to gain their abilities. 

Despite centuries of ties forged with the local population modern African people are not more sensitive to their plight which will eventually lead to the extinction of the African Wild dog.

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