Basenji is an ancient dog breed. There is documented evidence of Basenjis 5,000 years ago in Egypt, 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 almond-shaped, dark eyes. The tail is high and curled. The coat is short and maybe 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 many people feel Basenjis are more like cats than dogs during training. Although the breed is quick and intelligent, it is not necessarily compliant, so that training can be challenging. 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 tough for a first-time dog owner or 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.
Basenji at K9 Research Lab