The Basenji is an interesting dog breed, probably best known as the ‘bark-less’ dog of Central Africa. But there are a lot of other things that make this one of the most unique dog breeds.
Originally employed as a hunter and retriever by Central African tribes, the Basenji is an ancient breed with a recorded history going back over 5, 000 years. We know for example that these dogs were present in ancient Egypt, as they are recorded in Egyptian hieroglyphics.
However, the breed remained unknown in the western world until 1937, when several dogs were brought to England,. The first Basenji arrived in the US in 1941, and by 1944 had achieved AKC status. Originally called the Congo Dog, the indigenous name Basenji – said to mean, ‘bush thing’ – was later adopted.
At between 15 and 18 inches high, the Basenji is a medium-sized dog, with a distinctive pointed muzzle and a furrowed brow that gives it the impression of being deep in thought. The other stand out feature is the tail, which is tightly curled over the back. The coat is sleek and short, and can be copper, black, red, chestnut red or brindle, all with white markings on the chest, feet, and the tip of the tail. What really sets a Basenji apart from other dogs is its temperament. They are fastidious dogs, renowned for their grooming habits, which have been described as “cat-like”. And they have other cat-like behaviors too, like their amazing ability to climb trees. Basenjis have even been known to scale chain link fences. These dogs can be quite strong-willed, and even dominant if they are allowed to get away with it. Training, socialization and consistent pack leadership are therefore a must. Common problem behaviors with the Basenji are chewing, and aggression towards small animals.
But don’t let that put you off adopting a Basenji, because they can be wonderful pets. They are affectionate, energetic and intelligent dogs with a genuine eagerness to please. They bond closely with their human family, and do very well with older children, although they are less suitable for very young kids. You do need to remember however that these were originally hunting dogs, so they need quite a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. Your Basenji will need a long walk every day and will also enjoy games to keep him mentally active. When to dog is home alone you may want to get him some chew toys, to keep him away from chewing your stuff.
The breed can live comfortably in an apartment, provided its daily exercise needs are met. The Basenji is a robust breed with few major health concerns. They are however prone to kidney problems, and are also vulnerable to certain intestinal disorders and eye problems like progressive retinal atrophy.
A big plus of Basenji ownership is that they shed very little, and as they groom themselves, the owner is left with very little work to do.
Finding good dog names, for a Basenji can be a challenge. Your best bet is to use an online dog names database like Puppy Names HQ, which has literally thousands of excellent dog names, including a mega-list of male dog names.