Basenji Dog Breed

By , author of SitStayFetch… for Your Basenji

Group: Hound Group
Class: Hound


Medium-small and quite athletically built, the is a handsome with a smooth, shiny coat and a sharp, intelligent expression. The coat of this comes in various colors: black and tan, black and brindle, copper or red. Some Basenjis have a white blaze on their faces, and they also have a furrowed brow, often making them look as thought they are constantly worried. The Basenji has a distinctive tail that curls upwards, and this has erect, elongated ears. This breed is unusual in that it doesn't tend to bark. Instead, the Basenji uses his vocals to growl, howl and produce a repertoire of other sounds, which will depend on what he is trying to say and how he feels.


The Basenji is a very affectionate and intelligent dog with a playful and curious streak. This breed is alert and energetic, and most Basenjis are eager to please their owners. This breed is probably better with older children rather than in families with young children that may tease and taunt it; the breed is also not always suited to cats and other pets unless it has been thoroughly socialized. They may get on okay with other canines, but dominance can play a part in aggressive behavior here. However, this breed does not tend to fight amongst one another, so a Basenji should get on well with others of the same breed. A frisky breed, the Basenji is a dedicated chewer, so you should bear this in mind when taking him in to your home and deciding on appropriate toys.

Height and Weight

The male Basenji tends to grow to around 16-17 inches in height, with the female Basenji reaching around 15-16 inches in height. The weight of a male Basenji can reach approximately 22-26 pounds, with females lagging slightly behind at 20-25 pounds.

Common Health and Behavioral Problems

The Basenji is at increased risk from kidney problems, eye diseases and infections, and intestinal issues. A neglected Basenji may also display a range of behavioral problems due to its need for play and company.

Ideal Living Conditions

The Basenji loves to play and therefore is best suited to an environment with space, such as a yard or garden. However, this breed will adapt well to living in an apartment providing regular exercise and play is provided.

Exercise Requirements

The Basenji is a curious and energetic dog, which needs plenty of exercise. This is not only to exercise his mind and satisfy his curiosity and energy levels, but also to keep him from gaining excess weight and becoming lazy, which the Basenji is prone to doing.

Diet and Nutrition

The Basenji is something of a vulture when it comes to food, and has been known to scavenge any food left unattended. This breed is also prone to weight gain and laziness if the diet is not properly monitored. There is no special diet for this breed, although a dry food will help to keep the gums and teeth healthy, and providing it is a quality dry food will provide all of the nourishment required. As with all dogs, fresh, clean water must always be available.

Life Expectancy

With a healthy lifestyle and no life-threatening illness or disease, the Basenji can average around ten to twelve years in age.

Grooming Requirements

Because the Basenji does not shed much at all, it makes the perfect pet for allergy sufferers. Grooming and maintenance is minimal, and a simple brush of the coat will keep him looking healthy and glossy. Another unique fact about the Basenji is that this dog cleans itself in the same manner as a cat, and is a very clean and hygienic canine.


The Basenji originates from Zaire, although drawings of very similar canines have been found on ancient Egyptian tombs. This breed is also known as the Congo Dog, and it is thought that the Basenji may have stemmed from a hunting dog used in the Congo by Pygmies. The year 1934 saw the introduction of the Basenji to Europe, and it was not until the 1940s that the breed was brought to America. The first registered the breed in 1944.

Click here to read Dan's consultation with Simone about her problem Basenji

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