The Basenji: A Complete Guide

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The Basenji is a primitive dog that originated as a hunting dog in Africa.

He has a short and fine coat, prick ears, a forehead that’s always wrinkled in thought, and a tail that curls over his back.

His behaviors are often described as catlike. He is indeed highly curious, intelligent, and independent. Consider whether you like cats before you decide to get a Basenji.

The Basenji has many wonderful qualities, but he’s certainly not a dog for just anyone. He is not the right dog for you if you hold your possessions dear and don’t have a sense of humor.

An adult Basenji ready to go
The Basenji is curious and mischievous.

It’s not uncommon for people who own this breed to exchange stories about the chaos and destruction that these creatures have caused.

The Basenji is mischievous and energetic with a mind of his own. You need to be smarter or sneakier than he is if you want to stay one step ahead of him.

Always on the alert, he is an excellent watchdog.

The Basenji is by no means silent. He yodels, chortles, screams, growls, and crows to communicate with people and animals.

With his fun and affectionate nature, the Basenji can be the perfect choice for families with older children who know how to handle him with love and respect.

Basenji Puppies – Before You Buy…

What Price are Basenji Puppies?

The price of Basenji puppies is anywhere between $1,600 and $4,400.

How to Find Reputable Basenji Breeders?

Never buy a dog from pet stores or online brokers. Always find a reputable breeder when you intend to purchase a Basenji breeder.

Otherwise, you may not get a well-bred Basenji or one with the right pedigree.

This means you may end up with a dog with potential health and temperament issues down the road.

When you purchase from a reputable breeder, you get the guarantee that you are getting a purebred Basenji from a registered breeder.

You also know who bred the dog and who you should contact when there is any problem with your dog.

There are no major health concerns with a reputable breeder because you can rest assured that they take care of the breed-specific characteristics.

You know that you’re getting a puppy born to well-bred, properly trained parents, who have a genuine Basenji character.

Check the national, regional, or local kennel club website to locate registered Basenji breeders. Visit dog shows to meet, talk, and socialize with breeders there.

Contact vets in your locality to know about good breeders.

3 Little-Known Facts About Basenji Puppies

  1. The Basenji originated in Central Africa and is said to be as old as the pyramids.
  2. With the collapse of the Egyptian civilization, this breed almost disappeared with it. But thankfully, the Basenji breed was preserved by its African admirers.
  3. Hundreds of years later, a European explorer discovered the Basenji. In 1895, he brought a breeding pair with him to England.

Physical Traits of the Basenji

A small brown and white Basenji
The Basenji is a vigilant watchdog.

The Basenji has a distinctive appearance that is smoothly muscular.

He’s a small dog that packs a lot of power. He’s known for his movement, which is marked by long, graceful, and easy strides.

His long face is accented with almond-shaped and dark-rimmed brown eyes. His ears are small, erect, and slightly hooded. His forehead is wrinkled.

The Basenji sports a short, fine coat that comes in several color variations, which include chestnut red, black, brindle, or black and chestnut. Some people also say that the Basenji looks a lot like a small deer.

Basenjis are very clean dogs who groom themselves with the vigilance of a cat. They do not have a dog odor and should only need to be bathed once or twice every few months.

Their coats shed lightly all year round. But they have short hair, which means shedding will still be manageable for even the biggest neat freaks.

Weekly brushing can help eliminate stray hairs in the house.

Weekly teeth and ear cleaning can also keep bad breath and ear infections at bay.

How Big is a Full-Grown Basenji?

Basenjis are typically 16 inches at the shoulder for females and 17 inches at the shoulder for males.
They weigh between 22 and 24 pounds.

What is the Life Expectancy of the Basenji?

The life expectancy of the Basenji is 12 to 16 years.

Intelligence, Temperament and Personality Traits of the Basenji

A Basenji pup walking towards you
The Basenji will grow bored without sufficient physical and mental exercise.

The Basenji is cute and endearing. He’s also one of the most clever, mischievous, and destructive dogs in the world.

He’s gentle, playful, and eager to please his owners. He’s an independent thinker who is highly intelligent, not to mention a great climber and explorer.

It takes someone with plenty of patience and a great sense of humor to live with this breed.
If you are highly attached to your possessions, don’t get this breed.

On the plus side, the Basenji is a very effective watchdog. He is always alert but not obnoxious with his barking.

He may or may not welcome the burglar into your home. When it comes to the Basenji, it will depend on his personality.

Some Basenjis are reserved around strangers and will growl menacingly at intruders, while others will stay quiet and allow them to rob the house.

The Basenji is affectionate, but he won’t shadow you. Expect him to know what you’re doing but not demand attention. He won’t care because he has his agenda.

You may think that he’s one untrainable dog. Training him will be an adventure, but it can be done.
Be positive, consistent, patient, but never be harsh. It will backfire.

The Basenji’s Diet

A nice piece of raw meat, except pork, combined with a lot of pureed and blanched vegetables will be great as occasional treats for him.

Even a wild Basenji cannot find meat as a meal every day. As with humans, variety is the best diet for him.

How Much Exercise Does a Basenji Need?

Take time for long daily walks with your Basenji. This is very important for these dogs.
Also, don’t underestimate the power of this breed even on a leash.

He needs mental exercise as much as he needs physical activity. Set a proper exercise program for your Basenji, like generous walks around the neighborhood, or early morning or evening jogs.

Daily exercise is the best thing that you can give your Basenji to keep him fit in body and mind.

Basenjis can get destructive or disruptive in their environment. In most cases, this is caused by boredom, being left home alone too long or too frequently, or too little exercise.

If you wish to avoid this, it’s necessary to consider if you have enough time and desire to give your Basenji enough exercise and attention.

If you don’t, you can consider having someone to help you out with exercising your Basenji.
The Basenji is an active dog that needs daily mental and physical exercise.

That means special tasks to solve and roles to fulfill. As much as possible, a long walk twice a day will be enough to meet his exercise requirements. Accompany this with plenty of fun and interesting games indoors.

A bonus is to be able to let him run in a special fenced-in garden or a specified dog run.

Basenji Health and Conditions

The Basenji suffers from health problems such as patellar luxation, corneal dystrophy, and canine hip dysplasia.

Some of the major health concerns in this breed are Basenji enteropathy, progressive retinal atrophy, and Fanconi syndrome.

Minor concerns include an umbilical hernia, persistent pupillary membranes, Pyruvate kinase deficiency, and hypothyroidism.

Your veterinarian may conduct DNA, urine, eye, and thyroid exams on him. This is why it’s important that you get a Basenji puppy only from a responsible breeder.

Child Safety

The playtime between your Basenji and children can quickly turn into an accident if you have not taken proper safety measures.

While your dog might not intend to hurt your children, it can do so accidentally. A male Basenji is only 17 inches tall while a female Basenji is one inch shorter.

The average weight of a Basenji is 22 to 24 pounds. Even though this breed of dogs is not very tall, athletic, or hefty, it still packs a lot of energy in its small body.

This is why if your dog is running and accidentally makes an impact with your children, it can cause them great pain.

To avoid such a situation, make sure you let your dog play in a large area and do not enclose it to small spaces.

Also, you need to train your Basenji from a young age and teach it the right way to interact with humans, and especially children.

The early training is extremely crucial for a Basenji since this is a very destructive and mischievous dog.

This is also why you need to be very firm during the training and punish your dog if it even comes close to hurting your children.

This will help it understand that it cannot deal with your children harshly or roughly.

You can also take your dog outside regularly to help it socialize which is when it will make the most behavioral mistakes.

This is the right time for you to interfere and discipline your dog as required.

Also, it will be quite helpful to teach your children the right way to play and interact with a Basenji so that they do not anger the dog.

Lastly, no matter how much you trust your Basenji, do not leave it alone with your children to ensure it does not get too rough or aggressive with them.

My Final Thoughts on the Basenji

The Basenji is elegant and graceful. His poise and alertness are sure to impress.
Spirited and forever curious, the good-looking Basenji wants to be in on everything.

Without sufficient physical and mental exercise, he will quickly grow bored. And then he may chew up your home or scale fences, even trees, in search of a more interesting life.

He’s too curious and mischievous to be left loose and unsupervised inside the house or out in the yard.

Don’t let him off the leash because he is a swift, agile chaser who is impossible to catch.

You must always stay one step ahead because he uses his intelligence in clever ways that suit his own purposes. Consistent leadership is a must.

Basenjis are intriguing in that they are physically unable to bark.

Yet they are still vigilant watchdogs due to their acute senses of sight and hearing, their wariness of strangers, their inherent distrust of anything new or different, and their territorial instincts.

They will let you know when something is amiss.

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