10-12 years although and occasional Basenji has lived up to 20 years of age.
4 to 6 puppies
Southern and AKC Hound
CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, APRI, ACR
According to the American Kennel Club standards there are four basic colors: Red, black, tricolor, which consists of black with tan in their traditional pattern) and brindle (red with black stripes), each of these with white on the tail, chest and feet.
16-17 inches (41-43 cm)
22-26 pounds (10-12 kg)
20-25 pounds (9-11 kg)
The Basenji can live outdoors with a big yard or in an apartment provided they get exercise daily and lots of it. It is important to remember when your Basenji is bored, he will begin chewing things-anything is his sight so if you live in an apartment, he should not be left there alone. In many ways, they are similar to a hyperactive child.
The Basenji, which originated in Africa, is a small, shorthaired and athletic dog with a smooth shiny coat and is the size of a fox terrier. They have a shiny coat of a number of different colors usually having white feet as well as white on the chest and tip of the tail. The Basenji is an elegant dog with long legs and a level back. Many think they have a perpetual worried look on their face because of the deep wrinkles in their forehead. The tail is high up, but curls up and slightly over to the side of its back. The ears are erect, straight and open in the front similar to a German shepherd, although some say they resemble a small deer. The small almond shaped eyes make the Basenji appear to be squinting.
The long legs of the Basenji contribute to its running gait being similar to what you would see on a horse. They have a type of gallop, when running at full speed, where their feet just barely touch the ground. They enjoy doing what they were born for: hunting and running. It is this quality that makes them want to chase every small animal they see. If he gets off the leash, he will go and, in most cases, will be totally oblivious to your calling him. The Basenji only comes in heat once a year, in the fall.
The one trait that the Basenji is most known for is the fact it does not bark. This is not to say that it is a mute dog by any means. Depending on what their mood is at the time, they will whine, squeal or howl and give one single 'woof' from time to time. When the Basenji is upset about something like being locked up, they will let out a scream that is similar to a woman or baby screaming or a rooster crowing. They do make a sound called a yodel or baroo that is attributed only to their breed. Overall, when they want to be heard, they know what to do and they are heard.
Basenjis can be hard to train because they can be very stubborn. Positive reinforcement is highly recommended when training them and tricking them into thinking it's their idea. They want to please their masters, but are still headstrong. They are very destructive dogs and will chew on things much more so than most dogs. In fact, there is very little that they won't eat. They need to be strictly confined or crated when you're not around because if there is a way to escape and run wild, they will. Some dog trainers feel that if you are a person that wants a very well-trained dog, the Basenji dog is not for you because of their stubborn independent streak.
The coat of the Basenji is short and silky with pliant skin. There are four standard colors for Basenjis--chestnut red, black, black and tan, and brindle. White feet, tail tip and chest is on all the colors.
There have been some variations like the "trindle", which is a tricolor with brindle points, liver, sabled reds, creams and blue and whites. Most of the variations have been bred out through the years except for the trindle variation. Most of the breeding is a matter of owner preference.
The Basenji is a very old breed of dog with his origin stemming way back to ancient times. It has been said that they originated in Africa and considered an "African import" at some point. The first signs of this dog (or dogs thought to be Basenji because of the similarities) were found and seen in Egyptian tombs and wall hangings over 5,000 years ago. In the late 1800s, they were prized as hunting dogs in the Congo because of their great speed and intelligence as they would track their wild game right into nets while waiting for the master to come.
Attempts to bring the Basenji dog to England in the early 1900s failed when most of them died from diseases. They were brought into Europe in 1934 under the name of Congo Dog. Breeders experimented, refined the breed and transferred it all over the world with the help and expertise of breeder Henry Trefflich. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed of Basenji in 1943, and in 1990, several imports of the breed were added in the books.
There are many terms to describe the Basenji dog and some may seem contradictory, but they so vary in temperament and have so many different moods. Although many temperaments come from the training, there are many that are characteristic of the breed. They are very alert, energetic and affectionate, yet they are also demanding. The Basenji needs to be handled and have human contact from a very young age to truly make a good pet. They do not like small animals and will chase them until they catch and kill them, if given the chance. Another characteristic of the Basenji is their inability to get along with other dogs, especially if they are a dominant dog. This is especially true when it is a dog of the same sex. Many owners of Basenji have said that they get along fine with other Basenji dogs, just not dogs of another breed.
They are very intelligent dogs and bond very strongly with their family members. Basenjis are somewhat shy and aloof with strangers and may actually "circle" them like prey if left unsupervised. When they circle something, this usually means that they consider it a threat to them or their home. They are territorial and very protective of their home and any area they spend a lot of time in and consider as "theirs".
They are very playful dogs that need much play time and exercise to release some of their energy that they seem to consistently possess. If they don't get the exercise they need, they will exert it in negative ways such as chewing and destroying whatever they find. The temperament and disposition of the Basenji is patient and eager to please, but respond much better with older children than young. In addition to all their energy, they love to run and climb so you will need a very high fence (at least 6 feet) if you have hopes of keeping them in. They are very loving dogs with their owners, but need to have constant attention and human contact. Many owners say that their Basenji is like a 2-year-old child with their demands for attention and if they don't get it, they make you regret it by being destructive.
There are a few diseases and disorders that the Basenji is prone to getting.
Fanconi Syndrome is an inheritable kidney disorder that usually will Show its symptoms after the age of four. A urine test can be given to the dog to test for the disorder.
hip dysplasia is a disorder that can cause loss of mobility, lameness and painful arthritis in the joints. It can be mild to severe where it will cripple the dog. All dogs can and should be tested for canine hip dysplasia if you plan to breed them as this is a hereditary disease.
Malabsorption is an autoimmune intestinal disease that if left untreated can lead to death. Dogs with this disease can improve with a special Diet.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy, which is a degeneration of the retina of the eye, may lead to total blindness and other less serious eye problems.
Basenjis, unlike many other dogs require very little grooming other than the normal brushing. They will love being brushed, however, as they are always craving attention from their owner. They wash and clean themselves like cats, always licking themselves clean. Unbelievable to some, the Basenji does not smell so they require little bathing as well. Many owners say they only bathe their Basenji every couple of months if needed. If your dog spends a lot of the daytime running around getting dirty and sleeps indoors at night, you may wish to bathe him more often. They are the ideal dog for someone with allergies. Basenji dogs do have sensitive skin, so be cautious about using strong flea shampoos. Always do a sensitivity test on their belly before fully shampooing their body. Speaking with your vet or pet supply store may help you in choosing the best shampoo and grooming supplies to keep your dog and you happy.
Some owners have said their Basenji does not shed, while others say they do, but a minimal amount that can be taken care of with a simple vacuum job. If you choose to show your dog, you may need little or no trimming at all, although some choose to trim the tail a bit. Other owners trim the whiskers. Nail trimming can also be kept to a minimum. If you are uncertain, you can check with other Basenji owners or your vet can advise you. You will find that your Basenji requires less grooming than most other dogs. You will find that with all the needs and demands your Basenji has, heavy grooming is not one of them.
Basenji dogs need as much exercise as you can possibly give them. They are highly energetic dogs that need more than just an occasional walk around the block. It's great if you have a large fenced in back yard where they can run all they want; however, this will not replace exercise with you. Remember, your Basenji thinks of himself as a member of your family and wants to play with you. On the subject of fences, a chain link fence is not recommended because they can climb it very easily.
You may find that your Basenji needs more exercise than you can give him. Enrolling him in some training courses will help him get much of the exercise he needs, especially agility training and lure courses. In lure coursing, the dog chases an artificial lure across a field in specific patterns. Many dogs have to be trained to do this, but some dogs instinctively know what to do as it is in their blood to track and hunt. Lure coursing is excellent exercise and stimulation for you Basenji. Many Basenji owners have their dog participate in competitions of lure coursing, and claim their dog loves it due to their excellent drive, energy and competitive spirit. The dog can also earn titles in competitions sponsored by some organizations such as the American Kennel Club.
Basenjis do not like to be around or in water and will avoid it at all costs. You will have to almost trick them to get them in water. Although, if they are in pursuit of something, they have been know to run in the rain.
Because of their intelligence and high energy level, there are different types of training that can be given to the Basenji dog. Due to their great prey drive, which is what they were bred for, most Basenji excel in lure coursing. This consists of a white plastic lure (or bunny) attached to a continuous loop run by a machine that has an operator, which controls the speed. The competition is in a field and must be at least 600 yards long with four turns or more. The dogs get points based on overall ability, speed, and skill in following the lure, agility and endurance. Basenji dogs are not necessarily bred for lure coursing and can be tested at a young age to see if they will be successful at the sport.
Conformation is something else that the Basenji dog can compete for in the ring. Because their coat is short and they require so little upkeep, half the battle is won. Training your dog to walk and look elegant like his breed represents will be a great experience. A Basenji breeder may be able to give you some advice on this.
Obedience is not something that the Basenji is known for, but with hard work and dedication, your dog can be trained. As with all dogs, even the Basenji, they strive to please their owners. They have an abundance of energy that needs to be put in a positive direction and positive reinforcement training works best with them as well as firmness. Many Basenji owners say that you need to make the dog think that what you want him to do is his idea and he will be more willing to do this. Dogs need affection, enthusiasm and exercise. If they get all these, the training will be much easier. If you feel you can't do this on your own, talk with a professional trainer that can either give you advice or enroll him in a training course. Training of any kind, especially obedience, should start at a young age.