Basenjis: Excellent Hunters and Loyal Friends

Basenji is an animal that came to us from the very heart of the African continent. The breed was formed without any human intervention. All character traits, demeanor, the ability to think quickly, natural ingenuity, and even love and affection for humans typical for other dogs are the result of natural selection and not any selection experiments. This is the main value of the Basenji, and one must learn to accept, understand, and love this creature the way nature created it. An amazing dog is still very rare in our area, but the popularity of the breed is constantly growing.

Brief Information

  • Breed name: Basenji
  • Country of origin: Central Africa
  • Time of origin of the breed: about 3000 BC e.
  • Weight: males 11 kg, females 9.5 kg
  • Height (height at withers): males 43 cm, females 40 cm
  • Life Expectancy: 12-16 Years

Key Facts

  • One of the main distinguishing features of the Basenji is that it practically does not bark. Legend has it that once the leader of a pack of “creatures from the thickets” (as these dogs are also called in their homeland) accidentally learned an important secret kept by one of the native tribes. Realizing that he could let slip, he and his flock swore to the people to be silent forever. Since then, Congo Terriers communicate with each other and with people, using rumbling, snorting, sighing, sounds reminiscent of choked laughter or grunt under the nose of a disgruntled person.
  • Typical external signs include a wrinkled forehead, especially when the dog is interested or excited, and a tightly curled tail.
  • Basenji are social animals, accustomed to herding life in natural conditions, so they get along with other dogs, although they highly value the good attitude of a person, sincerely attached to the owner.
  • Representatives of the breed are very active, they are distinguished by a lively mind, amazing ingenuity, and independence. It is impossible to take control of their hunting instinct – a bush dog (another of the many names of the Basenji), without hesitation, begins to chase everything that moves. The best means of control is a long, strong leash.
  • Surprisingly, the “basic” not only does not bark but also does not smell. But for all their cleanliness, these dogs do not like water. Perhaps their genetic memory holds stories of complex relationships with African crocodiles. You do not need to bathe Basenji, they cope with hygiene themselves, washing like cats.
  • The contrast in the behavior of the dog at home and on the street is striking. They love to sleep and behave in the apartment “quieter than water, below the grass.” But on a walk – this is an irrepressible bundle of energy.
  • African in origin, Basenji do not like and do not tolerate cold. Therefore, you should purchase the necessary wardrobe items for walking in the winter. Also, choose a place in the apartment for a pet warmer.
  • With regard to training, only partnership relations are possible here. To force, to impose your will simply not work. Therefore, experts do not recommend starting representatives of the breed for novice dog breeders. As the first dog, “a creature from the thicket” will not work.

History of the Basenji Breed


The history of the breed goes back at least 6 thousand years. Evidence of such an ancient origin can be considered in numerous images, figurines, jewelry boxes in the shape of dogs, very similar to modern Basenji, which scientists have identified during the study of ancient Egyptian burials. And even embalmed, richly decorated mummies of such animals were found in the tomb of Tutankhamun. Researchers believe that the “African barking dog” is home to the lands of Central Africa. The indigenous tribes of Congo, Liberia, Sudan widely used these dogs for hunting purposes. Although to this day there is debate as to whether the inability of the Basenji to bark is the root cause or a consequence of such an application.

It was from these lands that the first “galloping up and down” (this is what the natives call these dogs) were brought as gifts to Egypt, where they were treated with great respect. It was believed that such a dog protected the owner from evil forces and black witchcraft. The Basenji occupied such an honorable place for a long time, until the beginning of the decline of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

In the homeland of the breed, she still remained very popular and highly valued for her intelligence, courage, dedication, and excellent hunting abilities, unique among which was her ability to remain silent.

The acquaintance of the rest of the world with these amazing animals began in 1895. Unfortunately, the first meeting turned out to be sad. Exhausted by the long journey, the little dogs soon died. However, the stories of travelers about the Congolese Terrier, the Zanda dog, the Nyam-Nyam-Nyama, the African forest dog (and this is not all of the Basenji names) could not leave indifferent, and in 1937 these animals were officially presented to the English public at the Kraft exhibition, this the same year America saw them.

The wide distribution of the breed began after the Second World War. The exhibition success of the Basenji exceeded all expectations. Almost no finals of the most prestigious exhibitions in the Best in Show nomination were complete without a charming African alien. The popularity of the breed was added by James Street’s book Farewell, My Lady, published in 1942, and the Hollywood film of the same name, filmed fourteen years later.

The mighty of this world did not bypass the “silent” with their attention. King Farouk of Egypt, Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, representatives of the royal house of Romania, princess of the Principality of Monaco – this is not a complete list of monarchs who treated this breed with a special love.

Appearance and Special Features of the Breed

The breed is registered by FCI under number 43. According to this classification, it is assigned to group 5 – Spitz and primitive species, section 6 – primitive species. Basenji is a harmoniously built, well-balanced animal.

Ideal indicators of height and weight:

  • males – 43 cm at the withers, weighing 11 kg;
  • bitches – 40 cm and 9.5 kg, respectively.

Coat and Color

Basenji’s coat is short, well-fitting, and shiny. The hair is soft to the touch and fine.


The basenji color is purely black and white and red and white, black and white with melon seed tan, black and brown and white. Since 2000, brindle color has also been recognized, and the more pronounced the black stripes, the better. White must be present on the legs, the tip of the tail, and chest.

Basenji Character

Basenji is a hunting dog, therefore, the main features of its temperament are energy and constant readiness for action.

Loyalty is also characteristic of these animals: although it is not easy to gain the trust of the “bassi”, if the dog has recognized you, then it is difficult to imagine a more reliable friend. But the pet will always be wary of strangers, although it will never show aggressiveness first.

Basenji are classified as primitive dogs – humans have never made any adjustments to the breed. The ability to adapt to any conditions, ingenuity, natural ingenuity, independence, and even some self-confidence are all the results of natural selection.

Experts, characterizing the Basenji, say that almost every representative of the breed is a bright individuality, which, to a certain extent, can complicate the process of education and training. But this same individuality finds its manifestation in the surprisingly high development of the intellect. Thanks to him, it becomes possible to establish a close emotional bond between a dog and a person, which remains forever. In this sense, it is very important that a person does not abuse the trust of the animal and treat his pet with love and understanding.

It is not necessary to count on the Basenji to get along peacefully with a cat, hamster, or parrot. But with other dogs “Basya” will get along without problems.

Representatives of the breed do a good job with the function of a protector, but none of them are nannies. They, of course, are very fond of children, but they do not have enough patience to stoically endure pranks.

One of the not very best features of the Basenji is their natural habit of “jackal”. It is not easy to disaccustom a dog to pick up and eat whatever it wants, and it is impossible to guarantee the harmlessness of something uncontrollably eaten, therefore, when walking with your pet in the city, always keep it on a leash.

The Basenji is also called the “African barking dog”. This feature has nothing to do with any pathology of the vocal apparatus, it is just that the “basic” really do not know how to bark. She conveys her feelings with a kind of rumbling. For life in a city high-rise building – the quality is very valuable.

With all its features, Basenji remains a dog – a creature that will be devoted to you all its life. All you need in return is your love and patience.

Education and Training


Many experts consider Basenjis to be dogs that are difficult to train. They say that they do not concentrate well on the requirements of the owner and reluctantly follow the commands. The main argument is the fact that animals belong to the group of primitive, that is, bred by nature itself, without any human intervention. But primitiveness is not synonymous with stupidity. The fact that “basic” is able to solve all its problems without human participation does not mean at all that the owner a priori will not be able to educate and train her.

Knowing the characteristics of the breed, showing patience and love for your pet, you can certainly achieve very good results.

Basenji are independent dogs, the main attention should be directed to achieving a stable correct response to a pet’s call. This is not easy to achieve. Your puppy is initially sure that he knows best where to go for a walk, whom to chase, what “tasty” to pick up and eat on the street. “Basya” is constantly ready to pursue everything that moves, and does so with such a speed that a person cannot catch up with her. There is only one way out – to make it clear to the pet that it may be interesting for him and next to the owner. Play with your four-legged friend, encourage them with treats, just don’t let him get bored.

Care and Maintenance


Basenji is a dog that can be kept both in a city apartment and in a country house.

Taking care of her is not difficult at all. Smooth-haired “African” does not need to be brushed and combed, her coat has absolutely no characteristic doggy smell, even if it is wet. Puppies will require a little more attention – their skin needs to be combed out from time to time, removing dead hairs.

Walking, and active, and mobile is very necessary for the “Congolese” for harmonious development and growth.

In both adult dogs and puppies, remember to constantly monitor the condition of the nails and ears. Clean the ears regularly from dirt and secretions with a cotton swab, and trim the claws or gently file them as needed.

Basenji love to wash and do it almost like a cat so that their faces are always clean and well-groomed (even if they recently got into something sticky), and you can not worry about the cleanliness of upholstered furniture or carpets in the house. But these dogs do not like water, therefore it is not recommended to bathe them. Persistent rejection of water procedures is associated with the genetic memory of the breed, namely, the fear of crocodiles, which are found in almost any African river.

Basenji has an amazing talent for climbing (and very quickly) to any height. If the puppy realizes that the dining table is a source of goodies and snacks, it will be impossible to keep track of him and keep him from pranks. Immediately teach a nimble and active “African” to eat in a strictly defined place. In no case do not give in to attempts to beg for food from you, no matter how hilarious and cute faces the puppy builds.

Taking proper care of your dog requires a balanced diet.

Basenji’s diet should not be monotonous. Try to introduce new foods to the menu whenever possible. By the age of one and a half months, the baby of the “bush dog” should eat veal, raw quail eggs, kefir, oatmeal, and grated carrots from vegetables. You can alternate natural products with specialized and age-appropriate premium dry food.

Don’t forget about a bowl of clean, freshwater. The dog should not be thirsty.

Food from our table is contraindicated for an adult animal, as well as for a puppy. Sweets, spicy foods, fish, and tubular bones can seriously harm your pet’s health. You cannot overfeed the dog. Basenji is by nature a hunter, and the feeling of mild malnutrition is absolutely natural for him.

Basenji Health and Disease


The average life span of dogs of this breed is 12-16 years. Basenji are distinguished by good health, but this does not mean at all that control over the well-being of your pet can be left to chance.

There are a number of diseases that are most common in these dogs. These include:

  • Fanconi syndrome. This is a kidney disease, which manifests itself in a violation of the filtration function of the organ. Vital compounds (amino acids, salts, vitamins), instead of being passed from the kidneys to the body, are excreted in the urine. The result is weight loss, muscle wasting, and dehydration. If untreated, death is inevitable. If you notice that your dog has an irrepressible thirst, frequent profuse urination, see a doctor immediately. The detection of the disease in the early stages is facilitated by conducting special studies (for the level of sugar in the urine, the degree of the excess of the blood acidity index). Remember, the sooner you start treatment, the more chances your dog will survive. The disease is transmitted at the genetic level. Most often manifests itself in animals aged 5 to 7 years;
  • hypothyroidism. This is a disease of the thyroid gland, which is expressed in the low content of thyroid hormone in the blood. Symptoms: excess weight, low body temperature, poor condition of the coat and skin, swelling of the paws and head, a sharp decrease in reproductive function;
  • progressive retinal atrophy. The disease is hereditary and can be transmitted to puppies even from healthy parents. The disease manifests itself mainly in adult Basenji;
  • digestive disorders. To prevent undesirable consequences, pay special attention to the development of the dog’s diet.

Given the Basenji’s predisposition to picking up and eating various kinds of garbage, the risks of animal poisoning are very high. Experienced breeders recommend having a set of necessary antidotes in your home veterinary first-aid kit (potassium permanganate, Glauber’s salt, apomorphine for injection, magnesia solution) and know when what and how to use.
You should also strictly adhere to the vaccination schedule and carry out deworming.

How to Choose a Puppy


Given the rarity of the breed, it is at least naive to expect that you will be able to buy a thoroughbred Basenji baby on the market or via the Internet.

Contact the breeder or nursery immediately. Although the sale of puppies is possible from about the 45th day from their birth, after the litter is activated, it is better to postpone the first meeting – at least until the dog reaches 8 weeks of age.

A healthy Basenji baby should look like a sturdy, well-fed toddler. There should be no traces of discharge under the eyes and nose, the ears are clean, and the sky is a delicate pink color.

It is very important to observe a little behavior of the bass. Pay attention to his relationship with his mother, with other puppies. Try to identify the friendliest dog – this will be the best choice. Growing up, such animals have a more stable psyche, and it will be easier for you to find a common language with them.

Pay attention to your parents. They must be well-groomed and well-mannered. If dad and mom show excessive aggression, behave inappropriately, then, perhaps, they passed on the same character traits to the kids.

A conscientious breeder must provide the necessary documents – a veterinary passport and a puppy card. The veterinary passport must contain information about the results of the test for dysplasia.

When buying a puppy, do not hesitate to ask any questions that interest you: what did you feed and in what conditions the puppy bitch was kept, how was the birth, what kind of baby was born, how does he react to various external stimuli, how did he undergo the first vaccinations, was deworming carried out. A breeder who respects himself and his business will provide you with complete information and will give you many additional tips and advice.

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