The Basenji is an interesting dog breed, probably best known as the ‘bark-less’ dog of Central Africa. But there are a lot of other things that make this one of the most unique dog breeds.
Originally employed as a hunter and retriever by Central African tribes, the Basenji is an ancient breed with a recorded history going back over 5, 000 years. We know for example that these dogs were present in ancient Egypt, as they are recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
However, the breed remained unknown in the western world until 1937, when several dogs were brought to England,. The first Basenji arrived in the US in 1941, and by 1944 had achieved AKC status. Originally called the Congo Dog, the indigenous name Basenji – said to mean, ‘bush thing’ – was later adopted.
At between 15 and 18 inches high, the Basenji is a medium-sized dog, with a distinctive pointed muzzle and a furrowed brow that gives it the impression of being deep in thought. The other stand out feature is the tail, which is tightly curled over the back. The coat is short in length and can be a number of colors. These include red, chestnut, copper, black or brindle. All color variants feature white markings on the chest, feet and tail.
But what really sets the Basenji apart from other breeds is its temperament. For starters, the are compulsive groomers and have been described as being more like cats than dogs in the way they clean themselves.
And the comparison with cats doesn’t end there. These dogs are skilled climbers and can easily scale trees. Even a chain link fence is no barrier to a Basenji.
They are also strong-willed, so early training and socialization, plus strong and consistent leadership, are a must or your Basenji will assume he is in charge and act accordingly. Common problem behaviors are chewing, and aggression towards small animals.
These behaviors are of course common to many dogs and are not specific to the Basenji, so don’t let them put you off. In the main, this is an affectionate, intelligent and enthusiastic dog, that forms close bonds with its family, and is generally good with children.
You do need to remember however that these were originally hunting dogs, so they need quite a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Your Basenji will need a long walk every day and will also enjoy games to keep him mentally active. When to dog is home alone you may want to get him some chew toys, to keep him away from chewing your stuff.
The breed can live comfortably in an apartment, provided its daily exercise needs are met.
The Basenji is a healthy breed, with few serious congenital diseases. They are, however, prone to kidney problems, intestinal disorders, and diseases of the eye, like progressive retinal atrophy.
A big plus of Basenji ownership is that they shed very little, and as they groom themselves, the owner is left with very little work to do.
Finding good puppy names, for a Basenji can be a challenge. Your best bet is to use an online dog names database like Puppy Names HQ, which has literally thousands of excellent dog names, including a mega-list of female dog names.