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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Breeds > Basenji


Origin: Zaire

AKC Group: Hound

Height: 16 - 17 inches (Male)

Weight: 20 - 25 pounds (Male)

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Basenjis are high-spirited and playful. These dogs don't bark - they yodel. Basenjis are active and need regular exercise. They're escape artists and fast chasers, and they can be very destructive if left alone too long. These are stubborn dogs that are sometimes aggressive with other animals.

Basenjis are hounds dogs. Because they are great at sniffing and exploring, hounds were originally used to trail rabbits, foxes and other small mammals. Most hounds are good-natured dogs that make loving companions if trained properly. Hounds are sometimes stubborn, though, so training may take a while.

Most hounds need rigorous physical exercise, so daily walks and runs are a must. Never let a hound off a leash unless it is in an enclosed area, because it will take off if it picks up a scent. Hounds are barkers and howlers, and they are sometimes hard to housebreak.

Male height: 
16 - 17 inches
Male weight: 
20 - 25 pounds
Soft and short.
Chestnut red, black and tan, black and brindle. Feet are always white, as are chest and tail. Eyes are dark or hazel. Nose is black. Tail curls rightly on one side of its back.
Special considerations: 
Because this breed is so independent, professional obedience training is recommended.

The Basenji is an ancient breed from Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) in Africa, believed to descend from the very earliest types of pariah dogs. The breed's keen nose and sharp eyesight were useful to hunters, who used the dogs to drive game into nets or to track wounded prey. British explorers, who called the dogs "African Bush Dogs," attempted to bring stock to the United Kingdom but were unsuccessful until, in 1936, a pair was imported from the Congo by a Mrs. Burn, who gave the breed its current name. After a few years, the dogs began to thrive and eventually reached the United States. Their tightly curled tails, prick ears and yodeling vocalizations make them a unique and endearing breed.

The Basenji is a quick, inquisitive hunter and protector of his homestead. His eyes and expression speak volumes about his personality. One look at him and you can tell that he's smart, playful and independent minded. He is typically aloof with strangers but friendly with his family. He does not vocalize like other dogs and is often called "barkless."
At home: 
The Basenji seems like the ideal apartment dog - small, barkless, odorless and clean. However, just because he doesn't bark doesn't mean that he's quiet! His unique larynx creates yodels, chortles, whines, howls and even sounds similar to screams or crows. Also, Basenjis needs large amounts of exercise, play and attention, or they will become bored and destructive. If you are willing to give him the appropriate amount of mental and physical stimulation and daily access to the outdoors, then he can adapt to many different living situations. A fenced-in yard is an absolute necessity, as the Basenji is a wanderer. And like other sighthounds, the Basenji is capable of great speeds - he should never be left off lead in an unsecured area. He dislikes cold and wet weather.
The Basenji is very active and needs regular activity that should not only exercise his body but also allow his inquisitive nature to be satisfied. Vigorous daily walks or jogs are necessary to help him expel his energy.
A Basenji requires a high-quality dog food with a good source of protein. Some enjoy eating grass and appreciate access to fresh grass.
Patience is necessary when training a Basenji. This intelligent dog can be responsive when properly motivated, but his independent nature and intelligence mean that his attention will quickly lag with overly repetitive or heavy-handed training. He should be socialized with a variety of other animals and people from a young age to lessen his predatory and possessive instincts.
The Basenji is standoffish with those he doesn't know. He can do well with children he's been socialized to, but he's best with older children who understand how to treat a dog respectfully. He usually does well with other dogs, especially other Basenjis, but cannot be trusted around small pets, which he will see as prey.
The average life span of the Basenji is 10 to 14 years. Breed health concerns may include cataracts; coloboma; corneal dystrophy; Fanconi syndrome; hemolytic anemia; hip dysplasia; immunoproliferative small intestinal disease (IPSID); persistent pupillary membrane (PPM); progressive retinal atrophy (PRA); thyroid problems; and umbilical and inguinal hernias.
Fun fact: 

The Basenji is also known as the African Barkless dog.

Grooming blurb: 
The Basenji is a neat dog - known to groom himself like a cat by licking his paws and wiping his face. His short coat will shine when regularly tended to with a hound glove. The wrinkles on his face should be wiped with a clean cloth to keep the skin healthy.
Copyright by T.F.H. Publications, Inc. This document has been published with the intent to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter within. While every reasonable precaution has been taken in preparation of this document, the author and publisher expressly disclaim responsibility for any errors, omissions, or adverse effects arising from the use or application of the information contained herein. The techniques and suggestions are used at the reader's discretion.