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This fiesty hound is among the most primitive domestic breeds along with the Australian Dingo. Basenjis, meaning “bush thing,” originated in early human civilization in the African Congo and Zaire where he lived and hunted with Pygmy tribes. His picture has also been found in Egyptian tombs dating back to the fourth dynasty…

Basenji Photo
Basenji Poses In Front Of Mountains

The Basenji as we known him today was discovered in the late 1800’s by English explorers of Africa. However, when originally brought to England, the hounds were wiped out by distemper, a fatal illness unknown to African dogs. In the 1930’s the English breeders were more successful and the dogs were soon seen in America where they were not only recognized by the AKC, but also by the American Sighthound Field Association, making them elegible to compete as a lure coursing dog where they frequently take top honors.The Basenji is often mistakenly called the “barkless dog.” He does vocalize, especially as a watchdog; he sounds like a yodelling howl or shriek with an occasional sharp, fox-like bark. His quietness on the hunt was an essential trait in Africa. His wrinkled forhead gives him a perpetually surprized expression that is both very alert and clever.

In temperament, the Basenji is docile with his family, but does not like other dogs and pets. He’s inquisitive, but reserved, with an independant stubborn streak. He is moderately affectionate and playful, and good with children if they treat him with dignity. Since his importation from the Congo, the Basenji still retains his hunting instincts; he is not appropriate for a home with cats and small mammals.

This hound has a mind of his own and is difficult to train in obedience. He can be challenging for a first-time dog owner because of his reluctance to comply with anyone’s wishes but his own. However, when training and socialization begins in puppyhood, the Basenji has been known to do well in training if given lots of positive reinforcements for obedience. As a lure courser, he needs very little training for competition since chasing prey is instinctive for him.

The Basenji is a handsome dog with a short coat of tan or black and white, pointed erect ears and a tail that curves over his back. He has a few major health concerns, i.e. Fanconi syndrome (kidney failure) and Basenji enteropathy, a serious and progressive disease of the small intestine causing severe diarrhea and weight loss. Being African-bred, he does not tolerate cold climates well.

Observing a clever and tireless Basenji is a bit like looking through a mirror into unknown past eons when early mankind first domesticated dogs from wolves and made dogs into their hunting partners and family companions. The Basenji has descended from these times virtually unchanged in form, function and nature. As a working hound, he’s all business. At day’s end, he will gladly curl up beside you, keeping an eye and ear open for potential danger.

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