Small in size, but very clever and feisty, Basenji dog breed has a long history of association with humans. Hailing from the African continent, Basenji is considered a primitive breed of dogs, but on introduction to the New World, they became popular as a household pet. They are known by a few other names such as Congo Dog, African Barkless Dog and Ango Angari.
Democratic Republic of Congo is considered the place of origin of this breed. These dogs were employed by the African tribes for hunting small game. The dogs would drive the prey out of their hideouts and into the traps set by the native Pygmies.
The Basenji dog breed was first introduced to England in the 19 century, but the early arrivals mostly died of distemper. There were a few successful introductions after 1930, and they were successfully bred in the country and became the original stock of this breed. These dogs were given the name “Basenji”, which means “bush thing,” an apt reference to the origin of the breed in the bush country of the African heartland.
As a breed, Basenji enjoyed a rapid rise in popularity not only in England, but also in the United States. This led to an increase in the import of these feisty little dogs. Even a movie was made featuring this dog. The ancient breed received official recognition by the AKC in the year 1943.
Even though Basenji breed was much in demand at one time, there’s a dip in its popularity of late. The AKC ranking of the dog is steadily declining. It is quite unfortunate because it is one of the oldest dog breeds, and they make good family pets.
These dogs have a square elegant body with a very short coat. They measure not more than 18 inches at the withers and weigh less than 24 pounds. The ears are always held up giving the dog an alert look and the thin long tail is tightly rolled up and carried up on the back except when running.
Basenji dogs have different color pattern variations involving red, black and white. They can be bi-colored or tri-colored, but their necks, undersides and the lower portion of their limbs are invariably white. The tail also has a white portion at the tip.
Despite the elegance and small size of their body, Basenji dogs pack quite a lot of energy and power. They can run very fast like a galloping horse and their curled tail is extended during fast sprints.
The Basenji dog breed is known for its high intelligence and lively nature. They have an independent and sometimes stubborn temperament. They are often thought of as difficult to train, but they can be trained well if positive reinforcements and liberal rewards are used. They do not respond well to yelling and threats and often express their displeasure by a growl or two.
A born hunter, your Basenji would love to chase after anything that moves. Barking is quite rare, and when it does bark, it is more like a yelp. It is quite playful like a terrier and loves a constantly active life because staying idle is not part of its life.
Grooming and exercise
Basenji dog breed is considered quite easy to maintain as they do not need to be pampered with frequent grooming. An occasional light brushing down is all that’s required to keep its short coat in good condition.
Being a hunting dog in origin, exercise requirements of the Basenji dog breed are high. They have to be given lots of exercises and activities to stimulate them physically and mentally. They love chasing and fetching games with their family members.
Basenjis are best left outdoors during the day in a fenced in yard. They enjoy the freedom to run around and stay active during most part of the day. Since these dogs are prone to urinary troubles, they should be provided access to a continuous supply of water and shade in summer months. They are better off spending the nights indoors though.
Common health issues of Basenji dog breed
Basenjis are tough, long-lived dogs, with most dogs living up to 15 years. However, they are prone to a few hereditary health issues such as an immune related disease called Basenji enteropathy. There is no cure for this condition; the symptoms can be relieved to some extent through diet management. A Kidney disorder called Fanconi syndrome is also very common in these dogs. Progressive retinal atrophy affecting the eyes and hip dysplasia are two other conditions that may affect this breed. They are prone to hypothyroidism and umbilical hernias too.