|Country of origin
|Classification and breed standards
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Africanis is a
dog breed. It is
believed to be of ancient origin, directly descended from
pariah dogs of
ancient Africa, introduced
into the Nile Valley from the Levant. The Swahili name for the
breed is umbwa wa ki-shenzi or "traditional dog". Africanis is also an
umbrella name for all the aboriginal dogs in southern Africa.
The Africanis is a short-coated,
medium-sized dog, well-muscled and slightly longer than tall. It can be of any
colour. The Africanis has over the years been shaped by Africa for Africa. Its
beauty is embodied in the simplicity and functionality of its body. It is
slenderly built, agile, supple, and capable of great speed.
The Africanis is well disposed without being obtrusive: a friendly dog
showing watchful territorial behaviour. The breed is independent and
territorial, but highly trainable.
- It is my experience that the Africanis is a marvellous pet and house
dog. Guided by its instinct of subservience it will steal your heart before
you realise it.
- - Johan Gallant, President of the Africanis Society of Southern
Africa (September 9th, 2005).
The Africanis needs neither pampering nor special food. It is consistently
healthy and has, over the years, developed a natural resistance against internal
and external parasites.
There is ample evidence that no canine
took place in Africa and that the traditional African dog is a descendant of
dogs that had been domesticated in the
East and came
to Africa. Their earliest presence has been established in
Egypt and dated at 4700 BC.
records show that, from then on, the dog spread rapidly along the
Sudan and even beyond. At the same time, migrations, trade, and transhumance
took it deep into the Sahara. By 2000 BC, this moving frontier stopped for a long period. Meanwhile,
throughout the Egyptian dynasties, the breeding of swift and slender sight
hounds together with a variety of common dogs became very popular.
For thousands of years, the aboriginal
Stone Age San (Bushman) populations in Southern Africa hunted without the help
of dogs. Although the Khoikhoi brought domestic sheep along a western migratory
route to the Cape of Good Hope just before the Christian era, there is no conclusive evidence that dogs were part of their party.
The domestic dog first arrived in Southern Africa with the migration of the
Early Iron Age Bantu speaking people. Dogs of Nilotic origin consecutively
joined the Early and also Later Iron Age migrations. It is generally accepted
that these migrations travelled along the Central Rift and the Lacustrine
region. They followed tsetse-free corridors through Zambia and Zimbabwe to reach
Botswana and finally South Africa. The earliest evidence for the presence of a
domestic dog in South Africa has been established by Dr. Ina Plug, deputy
director of the Transvaal Museum. The remains were found near the Botswana
border and dated at 570 AD. By 650 AD the presence of the house dog is
established in the Lower Thukela valley. By 800 AD it is part of a Khoisan
settlement in Cape St. Francis, indicating that contact and trade between Bantu and Khoisan had been established.
For hundreds of years this exclusive primitive canine gene pool adapted to
various conditions of the Southern African landscape and, through natural
selection, evolved into ecotypes all belonging to the same
landrace. It is sometimes argued that dogs brought by the Arab trade, Eastern
seafarers, and Portuguese explorers might, over the years, have "contaminated"
the traditional African dog. In other opinions, these chances are scant. Exotic
canine influences became more likely after the colonisation of Transkei and
Zululand during the
The true Africanis is still found today in tribal areas where people maintain
their traditional lifestyle. The fast-changing South Africa and the impact that
this causes on rural societies, together with a certain disdain for the
traditional dog and the status that the ownership of an exotic breed provides,
poses an increasing threat to the continuation of the aboriginal Africanis. The
Africanis Society of Southern Africa was founded to conserve this ancient gene
pool. Conserving the Africanis as a land race stands for conserving
Today, the Africanis is recognized by the
Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) as an emerging breed.
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