He is one of the oldest natural breeds of dog in
Of course we know that he is a neat little hound dog with a curly tail from Africa that people often remember as barkless. A Basenji is not mute and makes an array of noises ranging from a growl, meow, burr, chortle, yodel, sort of a bark, to a bone-chilling scream. Some chatter and will often engage in "conversation" with you (we have some of those--just ask my husband). Others choose to stay silent and peer into your soul. Each one has his own unique personality.
He is a hound although neither a proper sight or scent hound. AKC has designated him to be a sight hound. Read the official Basenji Standard for the details of appearance. Standing about 16 inches to 17 inches at the top of the withers, he weighs in from 17 pounds to 25 pounds on an average. They have curly tails and prick ears. They have been seen at Christmas time with antlers posing as reindeer.
A Basenji comes in four accepted coat colors: red and white; black and white; tri-color---black, tan and white; and brindle and white. There are other colors out there and always cause for concern and continuing discussion by breeders. The hair is short, smooth and easy to care for with a very pliant skin. They delight in a nice daily brushing and continually clean themselves (and you too if they deem it necessary). They do shed hair (any creature that has hair is going to shed some). They have no doggy odor but rather smell like dry grass (except of course when one has rolled in some unmentionable ground deposit). Then it is definitely bath time! WARNING: Basenjis do not like water. Especially baths or rain or puddles. However, they think it is great fun to chase little creatures scurrying in the water at the river’s or ocean’s edge. Go figure. Snow is acceptable for a while.
They are natural hunters and were used in their native land to flush game. In America, those avid hunters that do choose to use a Basenji claim that they are excellent using both their sight and scent on the hunt. Basenjis can and do successfully participate in all conformation and performance events offered.
Basenjis are active dogs,(not hyper). They require some exercise every day of a quantity that varies with each individual. Generally, they should not go outside in an unenclosed area off lead. They should never be left unattended (would you leave a two year old child alone?). They can be incredibly destructive when boredom sets in and they set out to entertain themselves. We recommend crating Basenjis when unattended.
There are health concerns.While we wish only the best health and long life for your Basenji, we simply cannot guarantee that he or she will never acquire certain health problems that exist in the Basenji breed. We strive for health excellence but have little control over genetically transmitted diseases at this time. We are on the eve of a Fanconi dna test and as soon as we know the results of all the blood that has been drawn on our dogs, it will be posted elsewhere (the announcements page) on this website. There are many resources for information about Basenji health problems. Since there are so many excellent sources to read about specific health problems, we will not address them here individually but suggest that you begin your research with the detailed health page found in the BCOA websight.
What do you need to know about the new Africans? In the late 1980’s, several BCOA members traveled to Africa and returned with Basenjis from Zaire to serve as additional foundation stock. The American Kennel Club (AKC) finally agreed to open their permanently closed Stud Books for the Basenji Club of America (BCOA) to add additional stock for breeding purposes. All of these "Africans" were given the prefix AVONGARA. To date, all 100% Africans, foundation stock or 100% products of the foundation stock carry the Avongara prefix. In the wild, temperament and ability to adapt are most important for survival. These "wild" instincts are very apparent in most Africans who carry up to one eighth African blood. The greater the concentration of pure African, the more distinct these characteristics can be. You will notice that he or she probably will exhibit caution and care when examining new things and must be encouraged, loved and praised A LOT. These Basenjis will display "aloofness with strangers" to a much greater degree than an American bred Basenji with no African blood. They will not want their bodies touched without first examining the hand that is to do the touching. Take the time to introduce your Basenji to everything reassuring him the whole time that it will not hurt him. Find it in yourself to respect these "wild" instincts. This breed has been documented to be over 6,000 years old. They look today much like they did in ancient cave drawings. Owning a Basenji with a percentage of African blood is indeed a special experience. Time and patience are on your side. Use them wisely.
Some of these Basenjis are documented in The Basenji, Out Of Africa To You, 3rd ed., by Susan Coe. A more complete documentation of all African imports is the BCOA’s African Stock Project. This is an ongoing project that is kept current on an annual basis.
There are many interesting observations one can make that only experience living with a Basenji can create. Some will be because he is part African and the rest just because he is a Basenji. Whichever you decide it is, love and enjoy your Basenji.