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The history of the Basenji dates back to the early 1930s, when hunting dogs were found in the central African state of Zaire and imported to England and later America. The owner of the first one shown at the leading London dog show, Crufts, named them 'Basenji' after an African word meaning 'bush thing' and even now dogs similar to them can still be found in Africa, where native hunters traditionally used them to flush out small game, guided by the sound of a rattle (a gourd containing small stones) which has been tied around the dog's neck.



As puppies they are playful, mischievous and have an alert, happy nature, however as they are a primitive breed, they are not particularly people orientated.  Tending to be quite dominating these dogs are less than obedient and can be quite difficult to train, so much so in fact that a book published in recent years listed them second only to the Afghan as least trainable.  One of their attractive features are that they do not bark, however, they are far from silent as instead of barking they make a variety of noises including yodels, growls, chortles and howls.



Height:    40-43cm  (16-17in)

Weight:      9-11kg  (21-24lb)

Group: Hounds

This graceful dog is lightly built with short backs, crested necks, dark brown, almond-shaped eyes and wrinkles on the forehead and cheeks.  Coat colours consist of red and white, black and white, tricolour and brindle and white should be seen on the feet, chest and tip of the tail which should consist of a single or double curl which sits over the dogs back.



They do not require much grooming and as a matter of fact they do groom themselves regularly in a cat-like manner and rarely have that 'doggy' smell about them.  Being great for people with allergies, this breed sheds very minimal hair and do not require much grooming other than an occasional brush and as they have such sensitive skin it is best to avoid the use of harsh shampoos and flea preparations.


Life Expectancy

12-14 Years


Health Concerns

The Basenji is known to be prone to Fanconi's syndrome (kidney problems), which must be treated the moment the symptoms are noticed and also are susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy, intestinal, and eye problems.



This dog will do okay in an apartment if it gets enough exercise but a small yard would be more preferable.  Ideally the Basenji will be at its happiest when kept with two or three of its own.  They tend to become easily bored, fat and lazy and will require lots of adequate vigorous daily exercise. The Basenji is not an easy-going pet and is best suited to an experienced dog owner who understands dog behavior and dominance, and possesses the patience to train a strong-willed, assertive animal with a mind of its own.  They are accomplished escape artists and have been known to climb trees and high fences and should always be walked on a lead because if you let them off the lead they probably won't come back!

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The Basenji has been known to wash itself like a cat, so fastidious is it about its appearance.


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