Africanis

55-100 lbs
20-24"
Africa
Bantu dog, Hottentot Hunting dog, Zulu dog, Tswana dog, Umbwa wa ki-shenzi

The Africanis is a South African dog that was once considered a mongrel and treated with disdain. While there’s still a feral population in their home country today, the Africanis dog has grown in status. They’ve also developed into becoming a popular family pet due to their playful and friendly nature.

In this guide to the Africanis, you’ll learn:

  • They are a landrace dog that developed naturally in South Africa 
  • There’s more variation within the Africanis breed than in most standardized breeds
  • While some dogs are domesticated, many still roam freely in South African villages 
  • The breed is playful, friendly, loyal — and great with children 


Africanis breed overview

The Africanis is one of the best known dog breeds from South Africa. While the breed still lives near the rural towns where they originated, since the late 1990s their status has improved and they’ve since become one of few domesticated dogs from Africa.  

If you want to buy an Africanis puppy then you might expect to pay around $500 from a reputable breeder, though these aren’t always easy to find in the US; the Africanis isn’t officially recognised by the American Kennel Club (AKC). Another option is to rehome a rescue Africanis dog, if you can find one. Bear in mind that there are many other breeds which are more popular and readily available in the USA. 

This breed is generally very healthy and hardy, with an average Africanis lifespan of up to 12 years. 



Are you considering getting an Africanis? If so, you’ll want to know they are covered for any unexpected health issues. Check out the best pet insurance plans - it’s quick and easy to browse and compare top providers. 



purpose Purpose
Hunting
history Date of Origin
Ancient Times
ancestry Ancestry
Unknown Hound and Pariah-type Dogs

Africanis Health

Average Size
Male Africanis size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-100 lbs
Female Africanis size stats
Height: 20-24 inches Weight: 55-100 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Dermoid Sinus
Minor Concerns
  • Usually Very Healthy
Occasional Diagnoses
  • Entropion
  • Ectropion
Occasional Tests
  • Eye Examination
  • X-rays or other radiographic imaging
  • Myelography (Dye And X-Ray to Assess The Spinal Cord)

Africanis Breed History

The Canis Africanis breed developed naturally in South Africa with very little human interference. 

There isn’t much known about the true ancestry of the Africanis dog. But, it’s believed they are likely to be descendants of the wild hounds and pariah dogs that lived in ancient Africa. 

In 1998, a society dedicated to the conservation of this unique and primitive breed, the Africanis Society, was created by John Gallant, an ardent protector of the breed, and the former director of the National Cultural History Museum, Dr. Udo Küsel.

Unlike most breed societies, their intent is not to perfect the breed but to conserve and maintain the breed as it has developed naturally. Advanced DNA testing of registered dogs is standard, and the group maintains a code of ethics, as well as regulations and procedures for registration and breeding guidelines. 

Today, many feral Africanis dogs still roam freely in the villages and surrounding areas of South Africa. They’re exceptionally friendly and naturally subservient and are a familiar sight in villages where a traditional South African lifestyle is still maintained. 

They often work as guardians for both people and their livestock, as hunting dogs, and even as a herding dog in some instances.

Africanis Breed Appearance

As the Africanis developed naturally, there is much more variation within the breed than in most standardized breeds. But, while there is a great deal of variation from dog to dog, a comprehensive breed standard has been drawn up by the Africanis Society. 

These are fairly large dogs who tend to be athletic and muscular but slender and streamlined. They have long, slender legs and are often slightly longer than they are tall. They have a wedge-shaped head similar to the ancient sighthounds and a long, cone-shaped muzzle. 

Their medium-sized, V-shaped ears can be carried erect, semi-erect, or may droop. The oval-shaped eyes of the Africanis can come in any shade.

Their short, easy-to-manage coats are double-layered and can also come in any color or combination of colors. Although white, black, brown and tan are most common. They can also have a wide range of different markings. 

There are recommendations against breeding those rare dogs with blue or double-colored eyes as well as blue or diluted color coats. This is discouraged for health purposes, as is the breeding of dogs with ridged backs.

Eye Color Possibilities
brown Africanis eyes
Brown
amber Africanis eyes
Amber
Nose Color Possibilities
black Africanis nose
Black
Coat Color Possibilities
black Africanis coat
Black
gray Africanis coat
Gray
brown Africanis coat
Brown
red Africanis coat
Red
cream Africanis coat
Cream
brindle Africanis coat
Brindle
sable Africanis coat
Sable
pied Africanis coat
Pied
white Africanis coat
White
silver Africanis coat
Silver
fawn Africanis coat
Fawn
isabella Africanis coat
Isabella
Coat Length
coat
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
coat density
pin
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
coat texture
Africanis straight coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Africanis Breed Maintenance

The Africanis needs brushing every week or so with a slicker or gentle bristle brush. You can wipe them down with a wet washcloth, which will help to remove loose hair and keep the coat healthy and glossy. They only need to be bathed when necessary as this can strip natural oils from the dog’s coat, making them more susceptible to environmental hazards. 

The ears of the Africanis dog should be checked regularly to ensure that they’re clean, dry, and free of debris or infection. You should also keep their nails trimmed and brush their teeth regularly. 

The Africanis has a lot of stamina and energy and will typically need at least an hour to an hour and a half of vigorous exercise per day. While long walks and hikes are appreciated, these dogs are happiest if they are given frequent opportunities to stretch their legs and actually run. 



Africanis health risks 

Africanis are a very healthy breed, with very few health concerns that you need to be aware of. 

There is only one major concern with this breed is and that is: 

They may occasionally be diagnosed with entropion or ectropion, which are both eye conditions.

Due to their history of living in difficult environments, over the years they have developed a natural immunity to parasites and are generally very healthy. But, they can be susceptible to diseases like distemper, parvovirus and rabies. 

Does your pet insurance cover conditions such as dermoid sinus? Browse and compare top pet insurance providers to ensure you have the best cover for your dog. 

Dermoid Sinus

Dermoid sinus is a neural tube defect. It’s usually found along a dog’s back, neck and tail. It’s prevalent in Ridgeback breeds and, even if it’s discovered later in life, it will have been there since birth. When these tubes aren’t working properly they can become infected and inflamed. Symptoms can vary but one to look out for is the hair in a swirl pattern along an opening on the back — this can usually be seen from around three weeks. 

There are five types, identified by the severity. Surgery is likely to be required to treat them. 

There’s much variation in this landrace breed. Certain standards have been put in place to prevent the spread of certain genetic disorders, such as issues with dermoid sinus in dogs with ridged backs.



Feeding an Africanis — what’s the best diet?

Africanis are historically used to quite a low-quality diet but this certainly doesn’t mean you should feed them one. 

They’re an energetic and athletic breed so should be fed a high-quality diet, with protein as the main ingredient. You should look for food that is formulated for medium to large dogs. 

Puppies should be fed up to four meals a day and this can be reduced to two meals once they are adults. You can feed them treats, especially when training, but take this into account when serving up their food. 

It’s important your dog has a good diet to keep them looking and feeling happy and healthy. To help, check out our friends over at Dog Food Advisor for advice including the best dry food brands and the best wet dog food. 


Brushes for Africanis
Slicker Brush
Slicker Brush
Nail Clipper
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
fur daily fur weekly fur monthly
Africanis requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Africanis Temperament

The Africanis have a friendly but cautious nature. While they are generally very patient and friendly with people of all ages, they do require some space. Too much physical contact and they can sometimes become uncomfortable and if pushed can occasionally become reactive. 

Although all interactions between canines and children should be supervised, the Africanis dogs are particularly patient and playful with children and can typically be trusted to be gentle. They tend to be amicable with other dogs and although they’re watchful and would alert you to an intrusion, they’re not generally aggressive canines unless their family is directly threatened. 

These dogs are independent thinkers who are able to come up with creative solutions to their problems, and therefore need mental stimulation. Fortunately, they’re also highly intelligent and eager to please, so can be easily trained when positive training methods are used.

Activity Level
low activity medium activity high activity
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
16 miles
walk mileage
Minutes of Activity Per Day
90 minutes
activity minutes

Africanis Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.5 cups
cup per day cost cup per day cost
Daily Cost
$1.50 - $1.90
food bowls daily cost
Monthly Cost
$34.00 - $45.00
food bag monthly cost

Africanis Height & Weight

6 Months
Male Africanis size stats at six months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 54.5 lbs
Female Africanis size stats at six months
Height: 18.5 inches Weight: 54.5 lbs
12 Months
Male Africanis size stats at 12 months
Height: 21.0 inches Weight: 70.0 lbs
Female Africanis size stats at 12 months
Height: 21.0 inches Weight: 70.0 lbs
18 Months
Male Africanis size stats at 18 months
Height: 22.0 inches Weight: 77.5 lbs
Female Africanis size stats at 18 months
Height: 22.0 inches Weight: 77.5 lbs

Africanis Owner Experiences

Osama
2 Years
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playing in the snow
Tug-of-war
I a very a like to have a dog. So nice!
7 months ago
Lucy
9 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
We rescued Lucy off the streets in Tanzania as an abandoned 8-week old puppy. Shortly after, while malnourished, she was able to ward off parvovirus which shows her great genetic makeup. She is excellent with children, highly social with other dogs, intelligent, very lively and independent but also affectionate. She also has a knack for hunting and a definite primal instinct. We could not have asked for a better dog!
2 years, 4 months ago
Thieaux
1 Year
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playing in the snow
Dog Parks
Brushing
Agility training
Nap
Tug-of-war
Swim
Catch treats
Run
barking
we found the pup when he was little in the wild africa
2 years, 5 months ago
Oso
11 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running, Walking, Bike riding
Recued from Bangui, CAR, Central Africa. Imported to Florida, USA. Was fear-agressive but with socialization is losing agressive tendencies. Protective when on a leash.
2 years, 7 months ago
Cody
3 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Cody is a rescue dog we adopted at 6 months. He has issues with certain groups of people due to his earlier experiences of physical abuse but after 2 years of loving care from us he has blossomed into a truly beautiful dog reflective of the detailed traits documented above.
4 years, 7 months ago
Puppy
10 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Because I live in africa, I have come across a lot of africanis dogs. These dogs are loyal, confident, independent and intelligent. This dogs are bad at police work but good hunters.
4 years, 7 months ago
Frazer
3 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
Run
Very energetic but extremely smart. Managed to train her to sit within a few minutes. She plays well with my cat too. She can be very naughty at times and also loves taking chances when nobody is looking
4 years, 2 months ago
sam
2 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
Well behaved dog, altho a bit reactive near other dogs , esp if they bark at him. Gets on well with his cat brother . Having been rescued from abuse,where he was kicked in the head, I suspect he cannot see properly out of one eye .He cannot catch a ball but will sit on command. Seems to love small children . Overall health now is very good. He loves to travel by car, so taking him with on holiday is easy.
3 years, 6 months ago
Dusty
6 Months
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walking
traveling by car
training
We adopted Dusty when he was just 11 weeks old, he has grown about 1kg a week since then and is now 7month weighing in at 20kgs. He is full of life and energy but extremely intelligent so training is a breeze. He is very naughty at times but also sooooo cute. I cant wait to see him all grown up as I think he will make the most wonderfull companion.
3 years, 6 months ago
Bella
3 Years
5 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
We rescued Bella as a little puppy. She’s now three-and-a-half. I can attest to many of the attributes above. We live in a huge apartment on the beach and Bella’s favorite activity is walking and running on the beach and this breed definitely needs a big loving space. Bella loves running but she prefers to walk on a leash. She is temperamental at times / especially if strangers get to close to my daughters, but she’s usually very playful and very naughty (just for attention though) Do not get an Africanis if you don’t live an active lifestyle. Bella needs daily exercise and mental stimulation. Finally there’s one thing that blows my mind about Bella. She’s an extremely protective dog of both my daughters - to the extent that she will attack me if go into the girls room while they’re asleep. I suppose she’s figured out that her primary role is protecting the girls. Love her to bits. Really can’t stop gushing about her and we just love more each day
3 years, 5 months ago
Bingo
5 Years
4 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
chase, walk
Lovely, friendly and sociable with dogs and humans. He also careful with our cats and chickens.
3 years, 5 months ago
Tezi
2 Years
2 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Best. Dog. Ever. Literally rescued Tezi right off the streets and it was the best thing that happened to us. High energy, exceptionally loyal, well trained, eager to please, and full of personality. We are not sure if it is due to some trauma she experienced before we found her, but she is weary of strangers and occasionally nervous and skittish, but not at all aggressive and full of affection towards her chosen humans!
3 years, 5 months ago
Luka
1 Year
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
An absolute joy and pleasure. Was very easy to house train. Very protective and very alert. First to all of movement on the farm yard.
3 years, 3 months ago
Luna
2 Years
2 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Go to Park
Going to the Beach
Going on hikes
one of the most beautiful pets I have ever owned, she has such a beautiful personality and wouldn't trade her for the world. honestly the best dog ever
3 years, 3 months ago
Ponyo
2 Years
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Chase
Fetch
Run
Frisbee
Play keep away
full of personality and very loyal. we rescued her after seeing her in our neighborhood for a while, she became comfortable with us and our other dogs very quickly.
3 years, 3 months ago
Hunter
20 Months
3 People
Apartment
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Loving Energetic Interactive Protective Loyal Family Oriented
3 years, 3 months ago
Rusty
1 Year
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Long walks
Just playing around in the yard chasing games
Rusty just loves attention. He can follow me for hours off a lead and won't stray. Always looks after the people of the house and will nudge and guide the kids. He will shepherd the other dogs out the house and knows the boundaries. Very smart and seems to know when his mischievous. This is my 3rd Africanis and he has red nose with blue eyes, go figure, a handsome fellow at that.
3 years, 2 months ago
Night
5 Months
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Fet
Tagging
chasing
Long walks
Night is my 3rd Africanis.s I firstly had Jack in 2006 till he passed away at age 14 this Dec. I love the breeds health, sociability, low grooming needs, high energy, intelligence and a collected protective nature. Night is already 10kg at 5 Months.
3 years, 1 month ago
spotty
1 Year
5 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
spotty has been a fantastic dog with my needs ,it always chases away my boredom and its very intelligent but can be stubborn at other times and needs to be taught discipline around people
3 years, 1 month ago
Kelly
10 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
😆😆 ma Kelly loves walking.u should see him after being released from the chain.and the other thing I realized about him is that he can sense me from far away and that makes me feel protected and I love that.
3 years ago
Pablo
2 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Teething
Boat ride
Bath time
Brushing
Catch treats
For a small pup like a 2 month year old i found it very amazing how he was able to hunt his own food, he came to the hiuse with a crab from the lake and later that day killed a baby mamba
3 years ago
Laika
12 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Jogging
Playing Ball
Laika is a rescue dog and we haven't had her long, but already her loyalty and attachment to the "family pack" is evident. She is great with my girls (aged 6 and 10) - I trust her completely. We take her jogging every day which helps work off her energy. We have started training and she is intelligent and eager to please. Our biggest problem is her jumping on guests to greet them, but I'm sure with continued training she will learn how to say hello to humans properly. =)
2 years, 12 months ago
Yella
2 Years
3 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Our Yella is a cross breed rescue (was a stray who had to find her own food), is lab yellow with amber eyes. She is very friendly, eager to please, full of energy, runs and jumps a bit too much, and behaves like a hooligan if she is playing. She loves full body loves/rubs, and loves to cuddle. She is extremely affectionate, and wants to be around us all the time no matter where we are. She loves to play with boxes and thinks they are the best toy ever. She is a gentle soul unless playing when she may bite a little too hard by mistake, or jump up and knock people over in her enthusiasm. SHe is quick to learn tricks and food toy puzzles, and loves to run with a rope in her mouth that she throws up into the air and catches. She brings her toys to us, but we still have not been able to get her to give them to throw again and it is always a game of tug.
2 years, 12 months ago
Bobby the Africanis
11 Months
4 People
House & Yard
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
I adopted a handsome young man name Bobby, his being an absolute gem, very protective of his family, has energy for days and thoroughly enjoyed his long hikes. He was easily trainable, loyal and loved to be affectionate. He enjoyed sitting on my lap all the time. One week ago he was knocked by a car and succumbed to his injuries. We miss him so much.
2 years, 8 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd