Basenji Dog Breed Information – Temperament, Characteristics, and Other Facts

Originating in Africa, the Basenji is one of the most unique and rare dog breeds. Known for their differences, they have a number of traits that set them apart from most other pups. Smart and lively, they’re a wonderful friend to those willing to put the time and energy into training them.

The Basenji dog breed has a bit of an odd quality. Called the Barkless Dog, they make sounds, just not what you’d expect from a common pet. These noises include a yodel and cry, which is quite strange. But that’s not all. This non-barking animal also has some catlike behaviors, such as a steady grooming habit. Yet they’re a beautiful and mighty hunting partner that’s both fast and sleek.

Basenji Dog Breed Pictures


What Does a Basenji Look Like

The Basenji looks like a primitive hunting dog. Compact, they have a lean physique, but they’re very strong. Their bushy tail curls onto the back while their head is sharp. This breed has pointed ears that always seem like they’re on the alert. A deep dark eye color and wrinkled forehead emphasize this look of vigilance and intellect.

When it comes to fur, Basenjis, on the whole, are considered dogs that don’t shed. They’re very low-maintenance compared to other canines, and that’s because they are self-contained. Catlike, they groom themselves at great length, so they don’t have that usual “dog” smell to them. Still, brushing them once a week and giving them the occasional bath can’t hurt, though they hate being wet.

Distinguished from other short hair medium size dogs, their fur texture is fine and smooth. Soft like silk, they’re a great pet for animal lovers who suffer from allergies. All Basenjis have a white tail tip, chest, and feet. Otherwise, they come in a few colors. Red or black is typical, but a tricolored tone or even brindle is not out of the ordinary.


To understand the personality characteristics of this unique creature, it’s best to start by knowing their original purpose. These hunter pups were bred to go on long African trips through the wild. Therefore, they have a lot of brains and brawn. Their energy level is high, and their intelligent minds are superior when compared to many other animals.

Because of this, they get bored quickly if they don’t have some sort of constant stimulation. They think for themselves and aren’t strangers to getting into trouble if they don’t have anything better to do. So it’s important to keep them on their toes. Exercise, playtime, and attention are a must.

Though they’re independent, they like to be within sight of their companion. They work well with other pets and older children but should have proper training. Their lively temperament may break a thing or two on occasion, so ensure your home is free of clutter.

Do Basenjis bark? Not really, though they do emit noises. Yodeling, howling, and yelping are some of their tones. And rest assured, they will sound their vocal alarms whenever they see fit. Any suspicious activity in their eyes, such as squirrels or the mailman, will put them on guard.

Living Needs

Consulting a Basenji breeder before finalizing pet adoption for these pups is a good idea. They’re not for everyone, that’s for sure. But for those who choose them, they’ll be devotees to this type of animal for life. People who value spending quality active time with a companion are the ideal friends for these catlike dogs.

via Pexels

These puppies are an enigma. They aren’t lap dogs, yet they don’t want to be alone. Not into cuddling, they prefer to spend time with their loved ones playing around. Going to the park or participating in agility sports are great for these little guys and girls. A casual walk once or twice a day simply won’t do. An owner needs to have an energetic bond with them.

Hunting dogs require an outlet to be themselves. Always be vigilant when out with them. Due to their speed and independent thought, they’ll be off and running in an instant. It’s best to have adequate fencing in a larger yard to give them plenty of secure space for activities.

Yet don’t discount this high-energy puppy if you live in an apartment. A non-barking dog is great for this lifestyle. With their smaller size and minimal shedding, they work well in such an environment. Just be sure to find varying means of exercise, and give them the attention they need. Otherwise, they’ll become noisy and destructive.


How to Take Care of a Basenji

What is unique about the Basenji dog breed? For starters, they’re some of the best dogs for allergies. Their minimal shedding and thin hair often allow allergy sufferers to own these puppies.

Thanks to their high level of self-care, they will spend hours every day grooming. This limits what you have to do in regards to their skincare. Simply brushing them once a week is all these low-maintenance dogs need. Give them a bath every so often, and this is pretty much all you’ll have to do. Just make sure that their coat is shiny. If it’s dull, it could mean a lack of nutrients in their diet.

Other routine checks and care for proper health include:

  • Toenail trimmings whenever they’re tapping on the floor
  • Ear inspections for anything out of the ordinary

Regular mouth brushing for healthy teeth and gums.

How to Train a Basenji

According to AKC, the best tip on how to train a Basenji is to start young. All pups can use some training. However, an African hunting dog requires it. Their bounding energy, intellect, and need for stimulation should be harnessed as soon as possible.

Puppies will learn quickly with a rewards-based system, despite their catlike aloof temperament. Positive reinforcement and praise are a must. Though they are fast to master a skill or trick, they also lose interest quickly. Therefore, a lesson shouldn’t last more than five or ten minutes.


How Long do Basenjis Live

Basenji Dog Breed
via Pexels

The lifespan of this dog is about 13-14 years. Regular vet care, good food, and exercise will give them a long and healthy life.

How Much Exercise Does a Basenji Need

These hunting dogs need plenty of exercise and attention. Even trained pets are ready to run at the drop of a hat, so watch them at all times. Leads and fenced-in yards are critical. Otherwise, the lively animal will take off, unable to resist the fun urge to chase.

How fast can a Basenji run? They’re quicker than many breeds, so it’s important to keep them under control. A wonderful outlet for them is canine sports. Agility, lure coursing, and tracking can add a sense of purpose to their lives. Also, these activities will offer a welcome release of energy.

Basenji Health Issues

Just like any other dogs, these little ones are sensitive to certain conditions. Common Basenji health issues are eye problems, hip trouble, and ear infections. Breeders are required to test for a number of these general complications that their puppies could perhaps have. They also need to complete an eye exam.


How Much Should a Basenji Eat

Adult dogs should eat no more than one cup of high-quality food per day. This should be divided into two meals to keep a healthy weight.


Sometimes known as Congo Dogs, Basenjis have an origin in central Africa. There’s a heavy belief that they were brought up the Nile river as gifts to kings. Facts aren’t certain, but it is widely held that they’re depicted in ancient art. Though if it’s not them, it’s an early ancestor.

Throughout history, they became celebrated and coveted dogs. Valued for their great speed, keen sight, sense of smell, and silence, they were bred as the ideal hunter. Tribesmen used them to drive prey from the bush. More importantly, they alerted clans to threats such as dangerous predators.

Unlike many other types of pups, Basenjis don’t have a long and storied past of export. The first known attempt to introduce them to England was in the late 1800s. The pair died soon after their arrival. Another try came in the 1920s, met with the same result.

Basenji Dog Breed
via Pixabay

In 1944, the first Basenji was registered in America. He successfully mated with a female brought in from Africa. After this, the dog became a bit more popular. In the 1950s, one was featured in a movie “Good-Bye, My Lady” which gained them more attention. Though still seen as rare, a surge of imports came about in the 1980s, which created the brindle color.

Today in the Congo, they serve in their original capacity as hunting dogs. In the United States, they’ve mainly become family pets. Often used for sport or show, they are known for competing in a number of professional canine events.

Fun Facts About Basenji

  • These dogs spend a lot of time grooming. This keeps their short fur odorless and clean.
  • Basenji yodeling is a feature that sets them apart from other pups. They don’t bark at all.
  • They’re prized tribal companions. Their size and characteristics were made for the hunt.

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