Basenji

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20-24 lbs
15-16"
Central Africa (Zaire and the Congo)
Congo Dog, Congo Terrier

The Basenji is described as a mischievous and lively breed with a “barkless” feature to his personality. The Basenji is said to have originated in Africa and became highly revered in Egypt. In Egypt, the Basenji was gifted to the pharaohs as a sign of respect and loyalty. The Basenji was known as a hunter who loved to hunt rats and other small rodents, also serving as a companion. The Basenji has a short, fine coat with pricked ears. His forehead is wrinkled, creating an expression of endless worry. The Basenji’s personality is described as being cat-like in regards to his independence and hygiene. The Basenji is known as an intelligent breed with a highly curious streak. The Basenji is fairly easy to maintain; his short coat would require weekly brushing with a curry brush to help reduce the amount of shedding.

Purpose
hunting small game
Date of Origin
ancient
Ancestry
african bush dog

Basenji Health

Sketch of Basenji
Average Size
Male Basenji size stats
Height: 16-17 inches Weight: 22-26 lbs
Female Basenji size stats
Height: 15-16 inches Weight: 20-24 lbs
Major Concerns
  • PRA
  • Fanconi Syndrome
  • Basenji Enteropathy
Minor Concerns
  • PPM
  • PK
Occasional Tests
  • Eye
  • Dna Test For Pk
  • Fanconi Urine Test

Basenji Breed History

While the exact timeline of the Basenji is unknown, the Basenji ancestors were said to have originated in Central Africa. The origin of the breed name Basenji is derived from ancient Congo and Sudan dogs, with the word “Basenji” meaning “bush thing”. It is also said that the Basenji dog was presented to the pharaohs as gifts due to their companion status. While there are pictures of similar dogs in ancient Egypt, it is difficult to provide details as to whether the Basenji were the breeds depicted. The Basenji breed was introduced to England in the 1930. There had been attempts to bring the Basenji to England in 1895 but the dogs succumbed to distemper. In 1941, this canine was introduced to the United States as a pet and show breed, though the original purpose was to hunt small game. The Basenji would find its prey and lure it. The Basenji has appeared in some media in the past such as Goodbye, My Lady in 1956. In the movie, the Basenji is emphasized due to its signature yodel rather than traditional bark. Additional Basenjis were imported from Africa in the 80’s in order to help breed out hereditary problems and widen the gene pool. There was also a push to introduce more colors to the Basenji breed such as brindle. It was around this time that the Basenji was officially recognized as a sighthound and competed in trials. As for official breed recognition, in 1942, the Basenji Club of America was formed and the Basenji was formally recognized as an official breed in 1943.

Basenji Breed Appearance

The Basenji is described as having a light build with a swift gait. The Basenji has high legs which appear to be longer in than its torso in proportion. His muzzle is described as being shorter than his skull and he has eyes that are small and almond-shaped, ranging in color from dark hazel to dark brown. Additionally, his head is wrinkly and maintains an expression of worry and thought. The Basenji’s prickly ears are locked on top of its head, allowing for easier hunting techniques. His coat is short and wiry and can come in colors of black and white, black, tan and white, brindle and white, or red and white. The Basenji maintains a white-tipped tail, white underbelly, and white paws. The Basenji’s tail curls over his back. This breed’s pose is described as elegant and graceful with striking poise. This sleek dog does not have a traditional bark and instead yodels as a form of communication. 

Appearance of Basenji
Eye Color Possibilities
hazel Basenji eyes
Hazel
brown Basenji eyes
Brown
amber Basenji eyes
Amber
Nose Color Possibilities
black Basenji nose
Black
brown Basenji nose
Brown
Coat Color Possibilities
pied Basenji coat
Pied
black Basenji coat
Black
brindle Basenji coat
Brindle
red Basenji coat
Red
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Basenji wiry coat texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Basenji Breed Maintenance

The Basenji should be brushed at least once weekly with a rubber curry brush to reduce the amount of shedding. The Basenji should be bathed once every 4 to 6 weeks to prevent the natural oils from being overproduced. The Basenji is not hypoallergenic but does experience low-level shedding, especially seasonal shedding. The coat is odorless and only requires minimal care. Nails should be trimmed every 2 to 3 weeks to prevent damage due to overgrowth. The Basenji requires daily exercise to prevent boredom, which may result in destructive behavior. High level activities will able him to remain entertained; obedience training is always a good place to start. This breed would do well with more than one Basenji present in the home. The Basenji should have extra space to be able to run around and explore his environment. However, he should not be left alone without some entertainment. The Basenji would be happy to live indoors with his owners and will provide great companionship. This dog fares well in climates where the temperature is not too extreme. The Basenji does not have any known specific dietary needs.

Brushes for Basenji
Slicker Brush
Deshedder
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Basenji requires weekly brushing
Daily Weekly Monthly

Basenji Temperament

The Basenji is described as intelligent, stubborn and catlike. The Basenji is also considered affectionate towards their owners. This dog does not bark but uses their yodel methods to communicate. As a result of their original purpose, the Basenji enjoys a traditional game of chase and trail. This breed likes to be able to be entertained and in turn, likes to make his owners happy. While the Basenji is affectionate, he will not resort to following you everywhere as he usually has his own plans to follow. He may partake in property destruction if not provided with enough high-level activity to keep his day going and because of this, the Basenji is often described as mischievous with an energetic streak. The Basenji is better suited for families with older children who would understand how to care for him appropriately and handle his personality. The Basenji is independent; he may hesitate with introductions to strangers and has been known to make a great watchdog. Training the Basenji should be split into short and entertaining sessions for him. It is important to use positive reinforcement techniques such as food and praise rewards. The Basenji dog is able to get along with other pets if he is raised with them. If not, it is important to keep the Basenji away as he was originally bred to hunt.

Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
14 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
90 minutes

Basenji Popularity

Popularity ranking
#88
Popular Hybrids
Corsengi
Welsh Corgi
Basenji
Corsengi
Great Dasenji
Great Dane 
Basenji
Great Dasenji
Labrasenji
Labrador Retriever
Basenji
Labrasenji
Baseagle
Basenji
Beagle
Baseagle

Basenji Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
3 cups
Daily Cost
$1.2 - $1.4
Monthly Cost
$34 - $45

Basenji Height & Weight

6 Months
Sketch of Basenji at six months
Male Basenji size stats at six months
Height: 9 inches Weight: 12 lbs
Female Basenji size stats at six months
Height: 8 inches Weight: 11 lbs
12 Months
Sketch of Basenji at 12 months
Male Basenji size stats at 12 months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 21 lbs
Female Basenji size stats at 12 months
Height: 15 inches Weight: 19 lbs
18 Months
Sketch of Basenji at 18 months
Male Basenji size stats at 18 months
Height: 16 inches Weight: 24 lbs
Female Basenji size stats at 18 months
Height: 15 inches Weight: 22 lbs

Top Basenji Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Basenji breeders of 2018.
Top Basenji breeder Harmony Hounds
Harmony Hounds
Nicholls, Georgia
Top Basenji breeder HTM French Bulldogs & Skywalker Basenjis
HTM French Bulldogs & Skywalker Basenjis
Tampa, Florida
Top Basenji breeder Ahmahr Nahr Basenji
Ahmahr Nahr Basenji
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Top Basenji breeder Mata Hauri Basenjis
Mata Hauri Basenjis
Enfield, New Hampshire
Top Basenji breeder Waken Basenjis
Waken Basenjis
King George, Virginia
Top Basenji breeder Congaro
Congaro
Anza, California
Top Basenji breeder Amore Basenji
Amore Basenji
Mitchell, South Dakota
Top Basenji breeder Meisterhaus Basenjis
Meisterhaus Basenjis
Louisville, Kentucky
Top Basenji breeder Eldorado Basenjis
Eldorado Basenjis
Attleboro, Massachusetts
Top Basenji breeder Ankhu Basenjis
Ankhu Basenjis
Rochester, Minnesota

Basenji Owner Experiences

6 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
playing with other dogs
Explore the woods
Run
Fetch
The Basenji I walked was very excited by other and older dogs. This pup was not into cuddling or being petter, instead he preferred playing tug-of-war with the dog in the home, play fighting, and any activity that involved running. It is a fairly active breed that takes time to develop trust in humans. He was not aggressive or fearful of humans, but instead just seemed to prefer the other dog's company.
3 months, 4 weeks ago
5 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
lounging
Cuddling
Hiking
mischif
Basenjis are like no other dog I've known. Soooooo funny! Extremely clever and mischievous. Dolce was able to escape from her wire cage from the inside as a puppy, it was insane. She was able climb fences and jump over high walls. They are the kind of dog to do what they want and get what they want. She responded well to clicker training and was very smart, too smart. She's the kind of smart to try to take advantage and be smooth about it.. They are NOT a dog to be trusted off leash, extremely prey driven. When outside in the wild they seem to be in a trance and want to chase everything. She's an amazing cuddler and will be lazy with you all day if need be but also walk 10 miles as well.. They don't really like cold and or wet. They are like the cat of the dog world. They do not bark, they MAY yodel and they can be very destructive if not crated or with another dog to keep them company. They need a lot of love and attention!
4 months ago
9 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
Cuddling
Walking
The Basenji, the infamous dog that "can't" bark. I would have to say they're VERY vocal. The Basenji's that I've worked with were always mouthy. They are more of a mature dog and I don't really see them getting along well with groups of kids. I would say they are more of an adults dog especially if not very well socialized at a young age. If they aren't spending energy outside you'll more then likely find them scouting out a toy or something to chew on. I find they get bored pretty fast and are pretty stubborn when it comes to training. If you plan on owning a Basenji I'd recommend having patience with this breed. With time, patience and training they make great companions. They remind me of cats in a way where they go to you for the attention when they want it. Outside they love to run about and play with other dogs. You'll often see them trying to lead the "pack" at dog parks. For their size they're really spunky.
4 months ago
3 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Going to the dog run, walking in Central Park
My particular basenji was Incredible, from his beautiful soft face to the way he played properly and sweetly with any other pups and people. Ive heard if you get 2 basenji’s together, they go wild on each other and attack, but I’ve never seen this and I think this may have been the case of one persons opinion instead of valid evidence
4 months ago
5 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Ball, fetch, peanut butter bone
She does not like cats. Gets along well with dogs and people. A complete cuddlebug on the couch. She slept well at night, no whining or noises. She peed and pooped well outside. Just got nervous at first and had an accident on first day.
4 months ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Eating Snacks
Tracking
Chase
Play
Play keep away
Catch treats
Run
Walk
Maximus is a fantastic walking companion as long as you can keep him from sneaking snacks. Because he was bread to scout out small animals, he is an expert at finding street snacks. He had a tendency to want to zig-zag while walking and because of this, I keep the leash short and have been working on keeping his head up and facing forward and using a signal, "tsst" to keep his attention. Over the course of our experience together he has learned this command and has improved dramatically in his manners. He is a stubborn dog and is only erratically interested in interacting with people. This behavior, in conjunction with his lack of interest in treats does lend itself toward a more difficult training regiment. He recently has developed an interest in other dogs and will either stand stone-still until they pass or he will jump wildly to get toward them. Because he have less interest in a human connection, he sometimes seems to get frustrated and actually uses his front paws to launch himself off of me toward the dog with whom he is interested in interacting. We have been working to quell this behavior. Basenjis have a wealth of energy. Maximus could easily cover many more miles than our time allows. When we get back to the house he moans about it and mildly resists going back into his cage. He is, however, well trained in this regard--though not without protest. As is the nature of Basenjis, he does make a little noise, but never barks. Maximus does typify the Basenji nature in many of his characteristics, though because of his age, he does tend to be a little more personable than other Basenji dogs I've encountered. When given a command or interacted with by an individual on the street, he will gaze directly at them and does sometimes try to put his front paws on them. For an individual who is interested in an independent companion, Basenjjs are very good companions. If, on the other hand, a person is seeking a dog who will respond with cuddles and tail wags, their behavior would not lend itself to much reward. Maximus is a fantastic dog, a very good distance-walking companion, and for the surprise of a sudden silly burst of energy and happiness. Overall, because of their size, energy level, and independence, I do tend to enjoy strolling with Maximus.
4 months ago
8 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
out
playing with other dogs
smelling
Fetch
The basenji I walk is very well behaved. She doesn’t pull a lot on the leash, very respectful to whoever is walking. Sometimes vocal when nervous but never goes to bite or snap. Overall lots of energy but sweet
4 months ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
being pet
Max is a sweet-affectionate boy. He was hesitant to trust me at first, but after a few seconds he got right on to giving me all his love. On our walk, he loved running around and tried to make new puppy friends every chance he could get. He pulled a little on our walk, because he really wanted to go fast, but he listened to everything I said. Throughout our walk, he would walk ahead of me but constantly turn around to make sure I was still there with him.
4 months ago
7 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Walk
I had never even heard of this wonderful breed until I walked them with Wag! I have walked two Basenjis now, one older and one younger. They were very sweet, energetic dogs and very eager to walk. Despite being small, they had much more speed and agility than a lot of other dogs I’ve walked and they were even ready to run while we were out in the park. The older pup was seven and his age didn’t make him any slower than the younger one. They were mostly friendly but they did start barking at some other dogs after saying hello for a while. They were very friendly with me and quite well behaved other than that. I would most definitely walk these dogs again!
4 months ago
5 Months
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Playing in the snow
Run
Dog Parks
Play with Toys
The Basenji I took care of was really smart but mischievous. He would turn on the water faucet and rummage through stuff when he was left alone. He can run really fast in the dog parks and loves to be entertained with dog toys
4 months ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Run
Running
My basenji pups name is Rocky who I walk 5 times a week. I absolutely love him because he's so nice, and active. His owner toby sometimes will let me run with him, and he keeps up the whole entire time. He really dislikes the metal crates on the ground, and groups of people. He loves other dogs, and also loves to lay on peoples laps and jump on them. He can be very obedient when ask to sit, but can also ignore everything you have said.
4 months ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
I walked a basenji named Luna. She was an overall sweetheart. The first time we met, she was a bit scared of me. I sweet talked her and eventually she warmed up. She hid and ran away from me in the owners’ house as I tried to get her collar on. We eventually agreed going on a walk was best! She wore a pinch collar and the owner let her roam free in the house when she was away. Luna was a great walker! She was well behaved and walked at a mellow pace. Nice with other dogs. Now that she recognizes me when I enter her home, she just wags her tail and isn’t shy.
4 months ago
4 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Marking
Running
Destroying toys
He barked at everything and was a bit jumpy with new people but warmed up pretty quick. Very sweet and gentle natured breed, easy grooming, and a playful pup that loves to chew up toys also!
4 months ago
7 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sniffing
Running
The Basenji I walked was very energetic and wanted to explore.
4 months ago
3 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Cuddling
The Basenji I watched was affectionate, and very jealous of others who tried to take your attention away.
4 months ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sniffing
Running
Shake
The Basenji was very friendly and very energetic. He wanted to run around and sniff everything, but was pretty good about walking on leash. Verbal cues were well received and understood, he was quite obedient and very smart.
4 months ago
Book me a walkiee?
Pweeeze!
Sketch of smiling australian shepherd