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Basenji

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Possessing a distinctive look and bold personality, basenjis are attention-grabbers but can be difficult to train. These active, energetic and easily bored dogs are demanding and require homes where they receive the attention they believe they deserve. They are not suited to homes with small children and while they don’t bark, they can unleash noisy screams.

Which breed group is the basenji in?

Breed group: Hound

Basenji breed history

Thought to have originated in in ancient Egypt, basenjis became important in the Congo region of West Africa where they were discovered by Europeans in the 19th century. The dogs were versatile workers which carryied goods, controlled rodent populations, guarded tribes and flushed out prey. They were imported to Europe in the 19th century but the first arrivals quickly died of various diseases. The dogs were successfully established in the 1930s both in the UK and the United States. One of the oldest breeds of domesticated dog, the Basenji rarely barks as it was crucial to remain quiet when hunting.

Basenji breed characteristics

This non-barking African dog is relatively small but boasts a muscular body, erect ears and a tail tightly curled over one hip. Its wrinkled brow creates a quizzical expression. The basenji has a short and fine coat which may be red, black, tricolour or brindle but also feature white feet, chests and tail tips. The dogs groom themselves like cats and shed minimally.

Basenjis are highly intelligent but are independent and renowned for their stubborn streak which makes then hard to train and control. They don’t bark but are given yodelling and screaming. They are skilled escapologists which may prove problematic. They will chew and play with anything which presents probelms in the home. However, they are great guard dogs and will defend their owners. Basenjis famously don’t like to get wet and will shy away from walking in the rain.

  • Lifespan: 12-15 years
  • Height: up to 43cm
  • Weight: up to 11kg
  • Muscular body
  • Wrinkled brow
  • Short and fine coat
  • Red, black, tricolour or brindle with white
  • Intelligent
  • Independent
  • Stubborn
  • Hard to train
  • Protective
  • Don’t bark
  • Can yodel and scream

Health issues with basenji

Basenjis are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, they are prone to certain health conditions which prospective owners should be aware of:

  • Fanconi Syndrome
  • Immunoproliferative Systemic Intestinal Disease
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)
  • Coloboma
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy(PRA)
  • Umbilical Hernia
  • Hip Dysplasia

What is the basenji bred for?

Basenjis were bred as utility dogs for tribesmen in Africa, assisting with hunting, guarding their owner and controlling rodent populations.

What sort of owners does the Basenji suit?

As basenjis are so hard to train, they are not the best choice for first time owners. They can be frustrating as they will decide when and how often to obey humans. They possess a strong prey drive which means they cannot be trusted off lead and they require a copious amount of exercise. They are easily bored and will become destructive if they need a diversion or to burn off energy. As such, they require active owners who are at home all day and who can devote a great deal of time to their pet.

These dogs do not suit homes with small pets, but they can learn to live with cats. They require early socialisation with both dogs and people if they are to become well-adjusted with balanced personalities and they are not good choices for homes with small children. Their diets should be closely monitored as they can easily gain weight and they do not carry excess weight well.

In short, basenjis require experienced owners with time on their hands who lead active lives and benefit from some experience of training dogs.


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