Dog Health & More
Out of Africa, the Basenji dog breed was originally found in the Congo. He uses both scent and sight to hunt and was originally used to flush small game into a hunter's nets and to control village rodent populations. Clever and endearing, he's a good companion for the person or family who can stay a step ahead of him.
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Well known as the "barkless" dog from Africa, the Basenji attracts admirers with his short coat, small, muscular body, alert demeanor, erect ears, and tail curled tightly over one hip. A wrinkled brow gives him a quizzical and sometimes mischievous expression.
All that sounds attractive, but people who don't research the Basenji before acquiring one may be disappointed or frustrated when they aren't prepared for the Basenji's unique temperament and personality. Obtaining a Basenji from a reputable breeder who will discuss the pros and cons of living with this breed will give you a reality check, and such a breeder is also more likely to check breeding stock for heritable health problems breeding them.
The Basenji is highly intelligent, but he has a stubborn streak a mile wide. The phrase "willing to please," used to describe so many breeds, is unknown to him. A Basenji may know perfectly well all the commands you teach him, but whether he actually performs them will always be in question. He may think first and then obey, or he may decide there's really no good reason to do as you ask. Instead, Basenjis use their intelligence to demand your attention and get you to provide whatever it is they need or want.
Basenji people say their breed is good at teaching you to pick up your house. Anything left out where the dog can find it is fair game to be chewed or eaten. You'll soon learn to protect your belongings by putting them out of reach of these inquisitive dogs.
Basenjis are also escape artists. Even a fenced yard will not contain a Basenji who is determined to be elsewhere. Unsupervised time alone in a yard could mean the loss of your treasured companion as he takes off to explore the world. Underground electronic fences also will not contain a Basenji who sees or smells something interesting. He considers the jolt from the collar a minor inconvenience.
The Basenji is known for not barking, but that doesn't mean he's silent. His vocalizations range from a delightful yodel to a hair-raising scream, as well as the usual growls, whimpers, and whines made by all dogs.
On the plus side, Basenjis love to play, although if you want a dog who'll fetch a Frisbee or tennis ball, look elsewhere — the Basenji is not for you. They are clean dogs with almost feline grooming habits. If you keep an immaculate home, you will appreciate that Basenjis shed very little. They also make excellent watchdogs. They will defend their people and property when challenged. They are noted for their courage and will stand against an intruder with everything they have. That said, their size precludes them from being an actual guard dog.
If you'd like to take up an activity with your dog, Basenjis are aces at the sport of lure coursing, the perfect game for these dogs who hunt by sight and love to chase. In it, they follow a lure — usually a white plastic bag — over a course in a field. The lure is tied to a line that is run by a series of pulleys as the dogs give chase. Agility is another sport that might suit the Basenji's love of a good time. While Basenjis don't excel in obedience competition, they can be successful if you can come up with a creative way to make them think that training and competition is their idea.
Basenjis are also super show dogs thanks to their proud manner and striking copper coat. They're easy to prepare for the show ring and have no need for trimming or complicated grooming. If you want a dog to show in the breed ring, discuss this with your breeder before purchase so she can help you choose the right puppy.
With his unique appearance and personality, the Basenji is not the breed for everyone, but for those who appreciate this little dog's attitude and intelligence, he can be the ideal companion. Who knows? You may even join the ranks of Basenji people who brag about the destruction their dogs can wreak.