The Africanis is a landrace of Southern African dogs. It is believed to be of ancient origin, directly descended from hounds and pariah dogs of ancient Africa, introduced into the Nile Valley from the Levant. The Swahili name for the breed is umbwa wa ki-shenzi meaning common or mongrel or "traditional dog". Africanis is also an umbrella name for all the aboriginal dogs in Southern Africa.
While the Africanis Society of Southern Africa has conceptualised the Eurocentric term of "Africanis" to encapsulate all African breeds of dog, there do exist numerous specialised types developed by various African ethnic groups with their own indigenous and ancient names. These types are not "land races" as dictated by the Africanis Society, but rather unusual types developed for certain specific conditions, and that do exhibit differences in type one from the other.
The Africanis Society of Southern Africa aims to conserve the Africanis as a landrace rather than develop it as a breed. While the Africanis is recognized by the Kennel Union of South Africaas an emerging breed, researchers on the ground, such as anthropologist Sian Hall, hold that the various different types of indigenous African dogs have already developed, over thousands of years, as types suited to their specific conditions by Africa's own indigenous peoples. They therefore have no need to be Eurocentrically regarded as an "emerging breed" by European Canine Institutions. Hall holds that the dogs have already developed as distinct types among the various African groups and that each deserves to be regarded and recognised as such. It follows that one breed descriptions cannot be allocated to the many different types of indigenous dogs on the African continent.