Basenji is a very old dog breed. There is documented evidence of Basenjis 5,000 years ago in Egypt, where they were known as “the pharaoh’s dog.” In Africa, the breed was used as a hunting dog. Although it has been known as the “barkless dog,” it is not noiseless. Instead of barking, these dogs yodel and shriek and can be quite noisy.
The Basenji stands 16 or 17 inches tall and weighs 20 to 25 pounds. She is very much an athlete, lightly built but muscular. She has a wrinkled forehead, upright ears, and almondshaped, dark eyes. The tail is high and curled. The coat is short and may be red, black, tricolored, or brindle.
The Basenji’s short coat should be brushed twice weekly with a soft bristle brush. Although a walk morning and evening will be enjoyed, that’s not enough exercise. The Basenji needs to run inside a safely fenced area where she can sniff for critters and run until she’s tired. Although she doesn’t look like a sighthound, she has many characteristics of a sighthound, including the joy of running and the hunting of prey by sight.
Enrolling in a puppy socialization class can help Basenjis be more comfortable with people outside their families. Early training that is fun can teach her important household rules. Keep in mind, though, that during training many people feel Basenjis are more like cats than dogs. Although the breed is quick and intelligent, it is not necessary compliant, so training can be a challenge. However, with lots of positive reinforcement, the Basenji can learn to enjoy training, and many have succeeded in a variety of canine sports.
The Basenji breed can be very difficult for a first-time dog owner or for an owner who wants a compliant dog. A Basenji’s owner needs a sense of humor. The Basenji can be good with children when they treat her with respect. She may chase cats and can be dog-aggressive. Health concerns include eye, kidney, and thyroid problems and anemia.