The Basenji dog originates from Congo and was originally used as both a scent hound and as a hunting dog. Nowadays, they can make an excellent companion dog and a wonderful family pet, but only for those who are ready to meet their exercise needs and keep training consistent!
The Basenji Dog certainly does have a unique personality and needs an owner to match, but don’t let this put you off. Read on below to find out more about the Basenji dog and whether you think they might be the pup for you.
History Of The Basenji Dog
Basenji’s are very unique dogs with certain needs, but this doesn’t mean they can’t make great companions to those who understand them. These small dogs arrived in the United States in the 1930s from Africa, and the Basenji Club of America was formed in 1942. The Basenji dog was then recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1943, where they currently sit at 84th among the 155 breeds and varieties!
The Basenji dog breed is one of the oldest breeds of domesticated dog and were discovered by Westerners in the Congo region of West Africa in the 19th century. They were used as hunting dogs to flush game into nets, as well as to carry goods and to warn of dangerous animals.
The first attempt to bring the Basenji dog to Europe failed due to the fact that the dogs all died of a disease shortly after arriving. It was then in the 1930s that they were successfully imported into the United States and England.
Characteristics Of The Basenji Dog
Basenji dogs are a popular breed and therefore you may have to wait a while to obtain one of these pups. You should always buy from a reputable breeder. Basenji puppies are normally born in litter sizes of between four to six puppies and you can expect to pay anywhere between $1,200 and $1,800 for one of these dogs.
The Basenji is a small breed of dog that weighs between 22 and 24 lbs and stands between 16 and 17 inches tall, with males usually being larger than females.
These dogs have a muscular body and erect ears that stand tall on top of their head. Their tail is curled tightly to one side and they have a wrinkled forehead that often gives them a confused look!
The Basenji dog’s coat is a short, fine coat. They do shed, but fortunately their hair is so thin that it is not very noticeable! You will need to keep them groomed to help prevent shedding, but we will go into more detail about that later on.
Basenjis can come in a range of different colors including rich chestnut red, black, tricolor (black and chestnut) or brindle (black stripes on a chestnut background). They will all have white on their feet, chest and tail tip and may have white markings on their legs, between their eyes and around their neck.
The Basenji dog is a highly intelligent breed that can be loving and affectionate at times, but also super stubborn! While their intelligence means they can learn tricks very easily, they are very good at getting their own way and will choose not to do as you say. This is why they are best suited to someone who can be firm and consistent with them, and show them who is boss.
That being said, the Basenji is a sensitive dog who won’t do well under harsh ownership. They really are a family dog and like to be with their humans at all times. The Basenji won’t tolerate being left alone in the house or yard for hours at a time and can suffer from separation anxiety. They’ll also take it out on your furniture by scratching and chewing!
Because of their loyalty and dedication to their family, the Basenji can make an excellent watchdog. While they are small and don’t make a good guard dog, they are courageous and will do their best to protect their home from an intruder! They normally a quiet dog, that does not bark, but they can be very noisy when they don’t get their way and will whine and howl.
The Basenji dog still retains it’s hunting nature and will love to chase everything that moves, including cats, squirrels and rabbits. This is why training and socializing is so important, as they can be an independent dog that just wants to do their own thing!
The Basenji dog has an average lifespan of between 10 and 12 years.
Known Health Issues
Unfortunately, like any dog, the Basenji is prone to some health problems. We have laid out the main health concerns below.
- Hip Dysplasia — this is when the thighbone doesn’t fit snugly into the hip joint. Some dogs show pain and lameness on one or both rear legs, but you may not notice any signs of discomfort in a dog with hip dysplasia.
- Hypothyroidism — this can be caused by a deficiency of the thyroid hormone and may produce signs that include infertility, obesity, mental dullness and lack of energy. It can be treated with medication.
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia) — this is a genetic condition in which Basenjis have two defective genes for the production of pyruvate kinase, an enzyme required to maintain healthy red blood cells.
- Fanconi Syndrome — this is a kidney disease that affects the normal processing of sugars and proteins. Symptoms include excessive thirst, excessive urination and elevated levels of glucose in the urine. It is not curable and treatment can be time confusing.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) — this is an eye disorder that eventually causes blindness from the loss of photoreceptors at the back of the eye.
Regular vet checkups and keeping an eye on your dog will ensure you can catch any of these issues before they become untreatable.
Remember — buy from a reputable breeder and the chances your dog will suffer any health conditions will be greatly reduced.
Now we know all about the traits and characteristics of the Basenji dog breed, it is time to take a look and see what living with one of these pups on a day to day basis is like. Below we will cover their food and diet, their exercise requirements and their grooming needs.
Food And Diet
The Basenji has a lightly built body and therefore they are prone to gaining weight very easily. This dog breed should be eating between 3/4 and 1 cup of high-quality dog food a day. Of course, you should always check the back of the food packet to see how much of a certain food you should be feeding them based on their weight.
It is advised that you split your Basenji’s food into two meals a day and limit snacks and treats. Below we have recommended a dog food for your Basenji.
Best Dog Food For The Basenji Dog
We recommend this adult dry dog food from Blue Buffalo for the Basenji Dog. Made with high-quality protein, this food helps your dog build and maintain healthy muscles. It also helps meet the energy needs of a Basenji Dog, while providing them with omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to promote a shiny coat and healthy skin.
This blend of dog food supports immune system health too, keeping your pup healthy throughout their life. It doesn’t contain any artificial flavors or preservatives either, which is always a bonus.
The Basenji dog has high energy levels and relatively high exercise needs. These dogs need around an hour of exercise a day, if not more, which can be split into two walks. They will also be happy to be your exercise buddy and go running or hiking.
Keep your Basenji on a leash while you are out in public. These dogs are prone to chase other small animals and may run off if they see a squirrel or a rabbit!
One thing to note is that the Basenji dog does not like getting wet and will not be happy if you take them out for a walk in the rain!
The Basenji dog can make a great family pet, but their family members will need to understand what it takes to keep this dog under control! Training this pup can be difficult and, although they are intelligent and will learn things quickly, they are very stubborn and won’t always want to put it into practice! Continued training is very important for the Basenji.
A true family dog, Basenjis don’t like to be left alone. They’re very loyal to their family and will prefer to go with you wherever you can take them. If you leave them in the house by themselves they can become destructive and upset that you are not giving them enough attention.
If you’re an active family, the Basenji dog can make a great addition! These pups love to exercise and will especially enjoy being with their favorite people while hiking or running. They can make good companions and playmates to children too, although are best suited to older children. As we have mentioned above, the Basenji will see cats and other small family pets and will want to chase them, so a dog only home is advised.
The Basenji dog needs a space to run outside and play, but you will have to make sure that your yard is securely fenced! These dogs are amazing escape artists and need to be supervised at all times. The neighbors cat might also find themselves running for their life if the Basenji gets free!
A stubborn dog, training your Basenji is very important! While they are intelligent and will learn commands very easily, you will need to be consistent with your training as Basenjis will always try to get their own way.
Training the Basenji dog can be a handful. Like any dogs, they respond best to positive reinforcement techniques and reward based training. This includes verbal praise and treats.
You should never get angry or frustrated with your dog when training. They may not understand what is happening and this will cause them to not want to learn. You should ignore negative behavior and praise positive behavior so they learn which is more desirable.
The Basenji dog needs early and continued socialization so they grow up to be a well-rounded dog. You can take them to a puppy training class when they are young so they meet other dogs and learn how to behave around them.
You should introduce your Basenji to different sights, sounds, smells, people, places and animals in a calm and controlled manner so they see that there is nothing to be scared of.
The Basenji dog is a dog that keeps themselves very clean and therefore, they shouldn’t need a bath more than every few months. These dogs do shed but not massively thanks to their short coat, so a brush once or twice a week will be enough.
You should try to brush your Basenji’s teeth as often as possible — every day is best — to help prevent dental decay and disease. Keeping their nails trimmed is also important as it will prevent you from getting scratched when they jump up on you!
Strat a grooming routine with your Basenji dog from a young age so they learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. You should check for signs of infection as you groom, especially regularly checking their ears, as this will help to prevent any further health issues.
Basenji Dog FAQ’s
How much does a Basenji dog cost?
A Basenji pup can set you back between $1,200 and $1,800. They are an expensive dog, but this is because they are in high demand. You can expect to be put on a waiting list. Always make sure that you are buying from a reputable breeder who can show you health clearances from both parent breeds. This way you are much less likely to purchase a dog with health issues.
If this is out of your price range, you can always adopt from your local shelter. A quick Google search will also help find organizations in your area for rehoming Basenji dogs.
Are Basenji dogs good with children?
Basenji dogs are good with children that they know, but are better suited to homes with older children. While they can make good playmates for young children, they will need to be socialized with them from a young age. You will need to supervise them with young children too, as sometimes playtime can get too rough and they may end hurting someone!
The Basenji is an active and fun breed that’ll certainly keep you on your toes! With a stubborn nature that means they can be difficult to train, the Basenji dog needs an owner that will keep them in line while giving them lots of love and attention. A family dog, the Basenji doesn’t like to be left alone and will want to be with their people at all times. While a lot of socialization and continued training is needed, in the right environment the Basenji can make a great companion to many.