Unlike a great many of the sight hounds or hound breeds in general, the Basenji is a dog that can make a good adjustment to city life provided the owners are willing to work with the dog. In general the smaller size, the relatively quiet behavior and the willingness to spend time indoors with the family makes the Basenji a good choice for a city dog.
The Basenji is also considered to be a relatively low maintenance dog when it comes to grooming and bathing. They have a very fine, short coat that is low shedding year round with just a slightly heavier shed in the early part of the spring. Like a cat the Basenji will constantly lick and clean his or herself, meaning that the need for a full bath is relatively infrequent for the breed. They have a very low doggy odor to the short coat and are often very low in dander production as well. This combination makes many Basenjis a good match for people with low to moderate allergies. Each person with dog allergies should spend a few hours with a Basenji to see if they are tolerant of the breed before making a decision.
Besides the Basenji's natural cleanliness they are also a popular breed because they are considered to be a non-barking dog. While it is true that the Basenji doesn't regularly bark, this doesn't mean they can't bark and that they don't make any type of noise. As a matter of fact a Basenji can bark and will if he or she feels threatened or needs to alert the people of the house that something is wrong. Their natural way of vocalizing when not giving that solitary bark is to use a type of a yodeling or combination of a grumbling, humming type of sound. Some Basenjis are known to "talk" to their owners in response to the owner talking to the dog. They may also use this sound to alert owners of changes in the environment or to voice their excitement or displeasure of various types of events or activities.
As a city dog the Basenji does adjust well to living indoors most of the time. They are very active indoors and will quickly learn how to take advantage of a comfortable couch or chair, or ideally sleep on your bed at night. Highly affectionate with their owners they do crave constant physical contact with the family for at least some of the time when everyone is together. The Basenji can often be found laying at his or her owner's feet if they aren't allowed on the furniture, plus they enjoy being around other dogs and even cats when socialized and raised together. It is important to monitor the weight gain of the Basenji, especially when they are predominantly indoors, as the breed can be prone to obesity without the proper exercise. Always avoid over feeding and feeding treats and human foods in addition to the dog food ration. Treats should never account for more than 5% of the total food intake for the dog per day.
The energy requirements of the Basenji are a bit less strenuous than with some of the sight hounds. They need routine, brisk, intensive walks or runs at least twice a day, ideally for at least 30 minutes per outing. Since the Basenji is a sight hound and will chase, they must be kept on a leash when outside of the house or yard. A very well trained Basenji will heel without the need of a leash and collar, but most breeders recommend always having them leashed to prevent the dog from dashing off and possibly running out into traffic. While they will learn to live very nicely with family cats, most Basenjis will chase stray or unfamiliar cats and they are very prone to chasing squirrels and other smaller rodent types of animals. Agility work and being in the great outdoors are often a wonderful exercise opportunity for the Basenji. If in a rural area or park be sure to have the dog well trained before removing the leash, but a retractable type of lead can be used to allow the dog to run and explore while still maintaining control.
Basenjis living in apartments or homes without fenced yards often don't get the level of exercise that they need and may resort to destructive types of behaviors. They are avid climbers and jumpers that may also start to chew on a variety of things in the home. This problem is often alleviated by increasing the exercise time and providing both mental stimulation in the form of obedience or agility training along with an increase in exercise. The independent nature of the Basenji does allow them to tolerate being left home alone provided they have lots of interaction with the family when everyone is home.
In general the Basenji breed is not cold tolerant and are not ideally suited to damp and wet types of climates unless they can be kept indoors. Their short coat and thin skin makes them very susceptible to colds and chills, especially in the cold, wet climates. They also prefer to be indoors with people rather than in kennels, even under ideal weather conditions.
If the home has a fenced yard, containing your Basenji is still a bit of a concern. These dogs can climb amazing distances and a chain linked fence is easily to climb out of for many of these dogs. They can also jump very high from a standing position and can learn to jump up on objects to get out and over even a privacy type of fence. They are also know to dig out if they are bored or restless within the fence. Appropriate exercise, lots of attention and securing and routinely checking the fence is essential with this breed. Once out of the yard they are likely to go hunting, often traveling many miles in a very short period of time. Their focus on the prey animal also creates a safety hazard for the dogs as they cross roads and high traffic areas without any attention to the cars and vehicles on the road.