Breed Type: Sight Hound
Country of Origin:  Africa
Size:   Medium
Also known as:  “Congo Dog”
Males: Height:  41-43 cm Weight: 10-12 kg
Females: Height: 38-41 cm Weight: 9-11 kg
Exercise Requirements:  Rigorous
Care Requirements:   Low to Moderate
Lifespan:  9-12 years
Best Suited as:  Companion, Hunting, or Physically Active Partner

Overview:
The Basenji is another breed of dogs in the hunting category of canines.  They originated in Africa and are known for their hunting skills of being able to not only point to the prey being hunted or retrieve it once killed, but they are also able to chase game into nets and then keep the game entrapped until the hunter arrives.  But a more unique trait of the Basenji is they are also known as dogs who do not bark.  Even though they do not usually bark, they do vocalize excitement with an interesting “yodel” of sorts that also differentiates them from any other dogs around.  While strong and athletic, Basenjis have a lighter build that allows them to be both agile and fast.

Appearance:
With particularly expressive eyes, the Basenji breed is intelligent and alert.  While purebreds always have white feet, chest, and tail tips, the rest of their coat varies in the colors of brindle, chestnut red (most common), or pure black – but always with the aforementioned white areas of their coat.  Their ears are naturally floppy but yet another breed that is known to have its ears cropped in countries that allow it.  Basenjis are clearly alert without this added visual characteristic and it is unnecessary to their appearance.  Their cute, curly tails only add to their expressive personalities.  The Basenji have wrinkled foreheads with wrinkles that deepen when mentally focused.  Their bone structure is lighter, but muscular and their long, elegant necks add to their attractiveness.  Their fur is very short, but thick and fine.

Temperament:
Basenjis are an obviously alert breed in temperament and quite curious about anything that gets their attention.  These character traits of curiosity coupled with their high level of intelligence result in a dog that is not too concerned with obedience.  If consistent and willing obedience is the goal, this breed may not fit your particular preference.  Along with innate curiosity, they also exhibit a highly independent nature and are rather stubborn so can be a bit of a challenge to train.  Trainers need to be quite adaptable at coming up with out-of-the-box corrective techniques in order to keep up with the intelligent Basenjis and succeed at getting them to both listen and obey.  But take care not to insist on too much obedience from them as that will stunt their natural characteristics of intelligence and curiosity from being expressed.

Even though an independent breed, Basenjis bond very closely with their caregivers and prefer being around them as much as possible.  Generally the breed does not care to be wet or cold similar to the way cats usually feel about water and cold weather.  But that isn’t the only characteristic they share with the feline species, oddly enough they also prefer to groom themselves by licking and accomplish doing so quite well.

History:
The history of the Basenji breed is interesting and dates back to the era of ancient Egypt and its Pharaohs.  It is believed that Basenjis were originally from the central areas of Africa and given to Pharaohs as gifts.  The first evidence of their existence is thought to be various depictions of them both in Egyptian tombs and paintings more than 5,000 years ago.  Eventually they gained popularity back in Africa as hunting dogs known to scare game straight into hunting nets and other similar hunting skills used for their owners.

They were not routinely found in English speaking countries such as America and Great Britain until the middle part of the 20th century when they began to be popular in both nations.  While earlier attempts were made to import the breed to other countries, it took a while to be successful at it because most imported Basenjis soon died from various diseases.  Once breeders were able to make enough scientific advancement through selective breeding methods, they were able to import the breed after eliminating some of the genetic tendencies toward disease vulnerability.  Henry Trefflich is the main breeding expert who was mostly responsible for learning how to breed them to survive and thrive in other parts of the world.

Care and Grooming:
As previously stated, the Basenji prefers to clean themselves through routine licking daily and are surprisingly skilled at doing so.  This makes them an easy dog to maintain at least in terms of its coat.  It is helpful to occasionally brush out the coat of the Basenji – especially whenever it begins to shed as this well speed up the process and lessen the amount of short hairs scattered over the living area.  When brushing a Basenji all that is needed is a rubber brush or even just rubber gloves because its coat is so short.  This will also help maintain skin health below the coat.  While the ears of the Basenji are often cropped when legal to do so, this is unnecessary.  Some would say that cropped ears on this breed actually detract from its natural state of being.

Health:
The Basenji breed is susceptible to some serious diseases such as eye diseases leading to blindness, hip dysplasia and arthritis, anemia, malabsorption issues, and kidney disease.  However, most of these are avoided through clean breeding shown by a line of ancestors testing clean for the issues that are genetically handed down.  Breeders must take special care in doing the different tests before any breeding occurs if their ancestry has not proven to be clean.

The Basenji can also tend to have skin problems – especially if not kept in a clean environment and allowed to clean themselves as they prefer.  They are also more prone to reactive to any chemical exposure whether industrial chemicals or household chemicals.  They tend to have higher absorption rates of such environmental chemicals which in turn lead to liver problems.

Suitability as a Pet:
The Basenji is not a breed to own lightly without proper research into seeing whether the natural characteristics of Basenjis fit well with the environment they are destined to live in.  Generally speaking, the breed is okay with children in its environment as long as the children are kept out of their personal space and private domain such as dog bed or kennel.  As children can be unpredictable and Basenjis can tend toward disobedience, they should not be used as close companions for children in the family.  However, the Basenji is protective of their family including the children so can work well in a family situation as long as proper precautions are kept.

Remember also that the Basenjis are natural hunters genetically so it is best to allow young Basenjis plenty of time to get familiar with household pets while they are still puppies and are more prone to play than to hunt.  This will help lessen any risk of future aggression exhibited toward other pets within the home once grown into mature dogs.

Training:
Because Basenjis tend to be hardheaded and stubborn with little need to please, inexperienced dog owners and/or trainers might not want to choose this particular breed.  But to those who enjoy working with a challenge in terms of training, it can be quite a match of wits working with Basenjis and finding ways around their natural independence and stubborn traits while still able to enjoy their highly intelligent and curious personality.  If you understand what you need to know before attempting to train a Basenji dog, or what you might need to learn more about, it can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience to train one properly while also allowing its unique personality to thrive.

Basenji Organisations in Australia
Basenji Club of New South Wales
Club President: Sophia Tromp
Email : anupi@optusnet.com.au
Club Secretary: Kay Eldred
Email :keldred@bigpond.net.au

Basenji Organisations in the UK
Basenji Rescue and Transport Home

Basenji Organisations in the US
Welcome to the Basenji Club of America
The Basenji Club of New South Wales Inc

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