The Basenji breed is well-known as the “Barkless Dog” from Africa. It is an aloof but very affectionate dog, and also protective of their families. They are renowned for their powerful eyesight and excellent sense of smell. Basenjis are unique and charming pets, and they are best for people who can meet their exercise needs. They are cat-like canines, and training them is really challenging. Let us know more about the history of the Basenji dog breed and its characteristics.
History of the Basenji Dog Breed
The Basenji is one of the oldest trained dog breeds. Early people might have preferred quiet dogs on the hunt, and that’s probably the reason why Basenjis are not barkers. Based on paleontologists, the first domesticated dogs looked a lot like them. In fact, they were already well-established when they were first brought up the Nile from Africa as gifts for the rulers of ancient Egypt. The breed was also depicted in ancient Egyptian artifacts. Aside from that, their traces can also be seen in ancient Mesopotamian and Babylonian art.
Even when the once-mighty civilizations collapsed ages ago, the Basenji breed was able to survive as a semi-wild dog that lived at the headwaters of both Congo and Nile rivers. In the 19th century, the Basenjis were discovered by Westerners in the Congo region of West Africa.
According to African tribesmen, Basenjis were versatile hunters. They have keen eyesight, explosive speed, and a highly developed sense of smell. Aside from that, they were also known to be expert vertical leapers, which was a skill they developed to scout prey in African grasslands. They were used for flushing game into nets, warm of the approach of dangerous animals, and as well as to carry goods when on the trail. They also found Basenjis to be resourceful and clever. In fact, a good hunting Basenji was sometimes more valued than a wife by some tribes in Africa.
The first try to bring the Basenji dog breed to Europe failed because all of the imported dogs died due to disease shortly after they arrived. In the 1930s, the first successful importation of Basenjis occurred both in England and the United States.
In 1942, the Basenji Club of America was formed. The following year, the American Kennel Club recognized the breed. In 1944, Phemister’s Bois was the first Basenji to be registered with the AKC. Basenjis are a rare breed, and they rank 84th out of 155 breeds and varieties recognized by the AKC. It means that if you want to have a Basenji, you need to be patient and spend time on a breeder’s waiting list.
Characteristics of a Basenji
Average height: 1 foot and 4 inches to 1 foot and 5 inches tall at the shoulder
Average weight: 22 to 24 pounds
Basenjis belong to the hound dogs breed group, and they can live up to 12 years. Male Basenjis can grow up to 17 inches at the shoulder and weight up to 24 pounds. Females, on the other hand, can grow 16 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 22 pounds.
The Basenji has a short, fine coat, and it comes in colors chestnut red, black, tricolor, or brindle. All of these are with white feet, chest, and tail tip. Basenjis may also have white on their legs, a white blaze running up the center of their faces between their eyes, or a white collar. The markings of Basenjis stand out clearly, and they do not look muddy.
Since Basenjis are hounds, it means that they are intelligent and independent. But they are also alert and affectionate. They are sighthounds, meaning, they can chase whatever they see that moves, including squirrels, rabbits, and cats. If you want to live with a Basenji, you need patience. It’s because it’s not the kind of dog that will obey commands instantly. It needs to think about them first and decide if it really wants to follow what you’ve asked.
They are aloof and independent dogs, and they usually only bond with one or two humans. This means that training them can be tricky and requires a lot of patience. They are also speedy runners. It’s because they use double suspension gallop when running, helping them reach impressive speeds.
Basenjis are known for being fond of children. However, they have high energy levels and are more suitable for older children. If they are going to be around kids, it’s better if they are raised with them from puppyhood. A Basenji cannot be trusted around cats and other small animals unless it’s been raised with them, and they recognize them as family members. But that recognition will not apply to cats or other small animals seen outdoors.
Caring for a Basenji
Basenjis are known to be accomplished escape artists. This means that you cannot leave them unattended in your backyard because they can go missing quickly. If you live in an apartment or condominium, you need to provide them with a couple of 30-minute walks or play sessions daily for them to be well suited to that kind of life. It’s also important to keep them on a leash at all times unless you are in a securely fenced area.
When it comes to grooming, Basenjis are cat-like. It means that it can keep itself very clean. They do not need a bath more than every few months. They also shed, but they have short and fine hair that is not noticeable. It’s also important to brush their teeth at least twice or thrice a week to prevent bad breath. Trip their nails regularly to avoid getting scratched when they jump up to greet you.
When giving Basenjis food, the recommended amount is ¾ to 1 cup of high-quality dry food daily, which should be divided into two meals. The amount of food you should give to your pet depends on its activity level, metabolism, age, size, and build. Remember that a Basenji has a lightly built body. This means it cannot carry excess weight well. Meaning, you should not let it get fat by giving it plenty of exercise and not leaving food out all the time.
The Basenji is a great pet for very active people. You just need to be really patient when it comes to training them. But if you’re looking for a loyal and protective companion, then it might be an excellent dog breed for you to have as a pet.