From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Other namesAfrican dog
mūtina dog
Khoekhoe dog
Xhosa dog
Tswana dog
Sotho dog
Zulu Dog
OriginSouthern Africa
Height 50–62 cm (20–24 in)
Coat Short and compact
Colour All colours or combinations of colours, particularly brown, brindle, black or white
Litter size 2-8
Dog (domestic dog)

The Africanis is a dog landrace found across southern Africa.[1] It is a medium-sized, short-coated dog, with a distinctive black patch on the outside of the tail.


Africanis dogs resting in the grass and enjoying the sun.

As is typical with landraces, there are several regional variations, believed to be the result of isolation and, to a limited degree, deliberate breeding.[2][3] Some modern writers describe the Africanis as a pariah dog. This is considered an inappropriate classification, as the term typically denotes an ownerless, free-ranging dog. Considered a landrace with limited human interference in their breeding, the Africanis has also been maintained by human owners.[2]

The Africanis is a medium-sized, lightly built dog with a long slender muzzle and, usually, a short coat. It has been described as resembling a cross between a Greyhound, a terrier and a dingo.[2][3] It can be found in almost any colour or combination of colours, although fawns, browns, brindles and blacks with various white markings are common.[2][3] A distinctive, possibly primitive, feature is a black patch found high on the outside of the tail where the caudal gland is found in the wild wolf.[3]

The Africanis usually stands between 50 and 62 centimetres (20 and 24 in). Being a landrace, minor variations in appearance may be common. The Africanis is nonetheless known to breed true to a recognisable form.[3]


Africa's indigenous dogs may be descended from ancient Egyptian dogs found throughout the Nile Delta around 5,900 years ago.[note 1] It is believed the descendants of these dogs spread throughout Africa with tribal movements, first throughout the Sahara and finally reaching southern Africa around the 6th century AD.[note 2][2][3]

The Africanis has almost always been attached to human settlements in southern Africa. The dogs could have been used to help herd sheep, goats and cattle, guard against predators and help their human companions in the hunt.[2][3] The Africanis has been known by a number of names. These include the Bantu dog, Kasi dog, umbwa wa ki-tamaduni ("traditional dog" in Kiswahili), the Khoekhoe dog, the Tswana dog and the Zulu dog. Other local names include Sica, Isiqha, Ixhalaga, Ixalagha, Isigola, I-Twina and Itiwina.[3]

While generally looked down upon by European settlers who preferred their imported dog breeds, the Africanis was held in higher esteem by Europeans in Africa than the Indian pariah dog was in India.[2]

In recent times efforts have been made to protect, preserve and promote these dogs, and prevent them from being split into a number of different breeds based upon different distinguishing physical features.[3][6] In South Africa, a society was established in 1998 to preserve the Africanis, the Africanis Society of Southern Africa.[3][6][7]

The name Africanis is a portmanteau of the words "Africa" and "canis".[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The oldest dog remains to be found in Africa date 5,900 years before present (YBP) and were discovered at the Merimde Beni-Salame Neolithic site in the Nile Delta, Egypt. The next oldest remains date 5,500 YBP and were found at Esh Shareinab on the Nile in Sudan. This suggests that the dog arrived from Asia at the same time as domestic sheep and goats.[4] The dog then spread north to south down Africa beside livestock herders, with remains found in archaeological sites dated 925–1,055 YBP at Ntusi in Uganda, dated 950–1,000 YBP at Kalomo in Zambia, and then at sites south of the Limpopo River and into southern Africa.[5] Archaeologists working in Africa have difficulty distinguishing ancient domestic dog remains from those of jackals, there are only a few distinguishing skeletal parts and those diagnostic parts are not always preserved.[2]
  2. ^ The earliest skeletal remains of dogs in southern Africa were found at archaeological sites in Limpopo Province, South Africa and date from around 570 AD.[2]


  1. ^ Swart, Sandra (2008-01-01). Dogs and dogma: A discussion of the socio-political construction of southern african dog ‘breeds’ as a window onto social history. Brill. pp. 267–287. ISBN 978-90-474-2280-8.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Moggs, Tim; Sealy, Judith (2008). "Africanis: the pre-colonial dog of Africa". In van Sittert, Lance; Swart, Sandra (eds.). Canis Africanis: a dog history of Southern Africa. Leiden: Brill. pp. 35–52. ISBN 978-90-04-15419-3.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Morris, Desmond (2001). Dogs: the ultimate dictionary of over 1,000 dog breeds. North Pomfret, VT: Trafalgar Square Publishing. pp. 685–686. ISBN 1-57076-219-8.
  4. ^ Gautier, Achilles (2001). "The Early to Late Neolithic Archeofaunas from Nabta and Bir Kiseiba". Holocene Settlement of the Egyptian Sahara. pp. 609–635. doi:10.1007/978-1-4615-0653-9_23. ISBN 978-1-4613-5178-8. refer page 620
  5. ^ Clutton, Juliet; Driscoll, Carlos A. (2016). "1-Origins of the dog:The archaeological evidence". In James Serpell (ed.). The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behavior and Interactions with People (2 ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 17. ISBN 978-1-107-02414-4.
  6. ^ a b Arman, Koharik (September 2007). "A new direction for kennel club regulations and breed standards". Canadian Veterinary Journal. 48 (9): 953–965. PMC 1950109. PMID 17966340.
  7. ^ "AfriCanis – Primitive and Aboriginal Dogs Society". Retrieved 2024-02-11.
  8. ^ "What is in the name AfriCanis? – The Africanis Society of Southern Africa". Retrieved 2024-02-11.

External links[edit]