Weight Management – Our Experiences

active_basenjisAlthough the AKC standard suggests an average weight of 23 pounds for Basenjis, actual weights vary greatly with frame size. Petite Basenjis may register ideal weights of 16-18 pounds. Tall Basenjis may weigh as much as 35 pounds. Breeding, early nutrition and timing of spaying or neutering all impact the adult size of your Basenji.

  • The vet-recommended way we’ve found easiest to assess whether a dog is the proper weight—irrespective of frame size—is to watch him as he bends to make a tight turn. For dogs of proper weight, the last rib should be observable.

Excessive weight is the most common weight problem. In addition to increasing the possibility of developing diabetes, overweight Basenjis can develop muscular or skeletal problems. Higher spinal stress can lead to disk or vertebrae problems. Excessive weight magnifies hip and knee problems (hip dysplasia and luxating patella). And for overweight dogs, jumping on and off furniture may become more challenging and even lead to injury.


  • Weight problems may reflect improper caloric intake. The number of calories and best diet vary based on age and physical activity level.  But most Basenjis benefit from a grain free diet.
  • If you feed kibble, ensure it is high quality—no by-products or grain. Kibble that contains grain can contribute to weight gain without adding needed nutrients. Kibble should always be hydrated before feeding to prevent dehydration in your dog.
  • Treats also should be grain free and should be considered part of your Basenji’s total daily caloric intake. In addition to providing only empty calories, rawhide treats may cause bloat.
  • Note that suggested serving sizes posted on the bag often are appropriate for an extremely active Basenji—others should receive less.

Weight gain that is gradual can be the result of an underactive thyroid. Click here for more information on hypothyroidism.

  • Though less common, unexplained weight loss is also a concern.  An annual wellness exam will help you and your vet to evaluate any weight changes as well as tested blood values.

Additional Resources on Weight Management