The Basenji is a breed of dog that was born and bred for hunting in the wilds of Africa. They have a strong urge to roam not only for the purpose of surveying the boundaries of their territory but for scouting any new game in the area. The Basenji has a keen sense of smell and a strong instinct to chase after things that scurry along the ground. They are alert, self reliant and can seem somewhat distant. Strangers are considered suspect unless and until proven otherwise.
When penned for long periods of time, they express their dissatisfaction by becoming destructive. At the same time, years of domestication have accustomed the Basenji to a life that is in stark contrast to its cousins still living on the African continent. Food is now consistently provided, not hunted. Their small stature allows them to be just the right size for a climate controlled house. In fact, many owners often note that their Basenji can be found anytime sitting on the backs of furniture just so they can stare out the window for hours. Their catlike cleanliness, low shedding and no odor is just what makes them attractive as ever to prospective owners. They do not bark and, even though they are an active breed, do not require a large amount of food.
The crossing of two worlds and two cultures has definitely created some challenges for owners of the Basenji breed. However, the dog's ability to adapt has been its ultimate characteristic. While the Basenji does well as an indoor dog it keeps a heavy lean toward an outdoor life. The Basenji will very much enjoy life as an indoor dog having contact with its owner; however, it will never be the lapdog that wants to sit and watch TV. The contact this type of breed wants consists of taking long walks or short jogs. Yet even if its first love will always be the outdoors, the Basenji will never turn down being inside on a rainy day.
Because the breed likes to chew, the Basenji's indoor life needs to be an environment that is safe from common household dangers. Cords need to be tied up and placed out of the way and any poisonous plants should be disposed of, no matter where they sit. Early and consistent training will lay the ground rules on what is okay to chew on and what is not.
The Basenji's outdoor life needs to be one that provides a vast amount of room to explore. This can come from a large enclosed yard or daily walks on a leash.
The Basenji is highly intelligent and will need plenty of physical activity and mental stimulation to keep from getting bored. Since their boredom can stem from doing the same thing over and over again, it is a good idea to vary activities and walking routines.