Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Weight: Male – 11kg (24lb)
Female – 9.5kg (21lb)
Height: Male – 43cm (17in)
Female – 40cm (16in)
Appearance: Basenjis are lightly-built dogs with a small, muscular body, wrinkled forehead, and erect ears. The tail is set high and curled. The Basenji coat is fine and short, in rich chestnut red, black, tricolour (black and chestnut), or brindle (black stripes on a chestnut background), all with white feet, chest, and tail tip. He may also have white markings on his legs, a white blaze between his eyes, or a white collar. His primary colour is always more than the white colourings. Basenjis share many unique traits with pariah dog types. Both Basenjis and Dingoes lack distinctive odour, and the Basenji is cat-like in his grooming habits, keeping himself very clean.
Temperament: This is an energetic and curious breed, who are affectionate and bond deeply with their owners but may retain reserved and aloof disposition towards strangers. Although highly intelligent, these dogs are also very independent and definitely not the kind of dog who will obey commands instantly. Basenjis are sight-hounds, which means that they’ll chase whatever motion catches their eyes – cats, squirrels, rabbits. They need early socialisation and training – it is best that they be enrolled in obedience training classes and be exposed to as many sounds, sights, people, and animals as possible early on. Basenjis are known as “barkless” dogs since they are prone to howls, yodels, and other vocalisations rather than the typical bark of modern dog breeds.
Skills: Basenjis use both scent and sight to hunt and were originally used to flush small game into hunters’ nets, as well as control rodent populations in villages. While Basenjis do not top obedience competitions, they can be successful if they are made to believe that the training and competition are their own idea. Basenjis excel at the sport of lure coursing, the perfect game for these dogs who hunt by sight and love to chase.
Behaviour Towards Other Pets and Children: Basenjis are known for not getting along very well with other non-canine pets. However, they can get on fine with cats and other small animals if they have been raised together and see them as part of the family. They shouldn’t be trusted around cats or other small animals they see outdoors.
Common Health Problems: Basenjis may experience liver problems, due to their sensitivity to environmental and household chemicals. They are also prone to blindness from PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), and kidney failure from Fanconi syndrome. Basenjis may also suffer from Hypothyroidism, IPSID (immunoproliferative systemic intestinal disease), and HA (Hemolytic Anemia). Some Basenjis may be faced with these health challenges in their lives, but the majority of this natural breed are healthy dogs.
Lifespan: 10 to 12 years.