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Basenji Dog Breed…. Everything You Need to Know at a Glance!

Now there really aren’t are all that many dogs out there that make you ask yourself…

“I wonder what he or she is thing about right now?”

But if you’ve ever owned a Basenji or known someone who has, then you’ll probably understand us when we say that this dogs stare can be a bit alarming and can make you wonder…

“What in the world is he or she looking at?”

It’s almost as if, sometimes, this dog’s gaze can pierce right through you!

Now we know this…

May sound a bit odd, but take it from us, this is a very intelligent dog and this “intelligence” is going to be made very clear to you just by looking at him or her for a few moments.

Which is why…

Even though, we here at IndulgeYourPet feel that a Basenji puppy can make a great addition to just about any household, there are a few things that you’ll want to know about this breed before your run out and get one.

Things like…

How big will he or she get?  How easy are they to train?  How much exercise will they need?  Etc, ect…

This is why…

We chose to write this article about the Basenji dog breed so that you would be better equipped to know if a Basenji puppy is right for you.  As well as to give you a better understanding of what you should be on the lookout for, when deciding which Basenji puppy, you should adopt.  So without further ado, let’s dive right into it!

Basenji Fast Facts

Country of origin:  Central Africa

Original Purpose:  Hunting small game

Weight: 20 to 24 pounds

Height: 1 foot 5 inches to 1 foot 8 inches tall at the shoulder

Average Life Span: 10 to 12 years

Dog Breed Group: Hound Dogs

Origin of the Basenji Dog Breed.

If you’re not familiar with the Basenji dog breed, don’t worry about it, you’re not alone.  You see, despite the fact that this breed has been around for 1000’s of years, the vast majority of that time the Basenji dog breed has remained a well-kept secret of the Mangbetu people who first domesticated the breed close to 2000 years ago.

The Mangbetu people.

The Mangbetu people, or the indigenous people of Congo where the first discovered the “value” of these incredible animals and were the first to domesticate and incorporated into their “tribal life”.

This makes…

The Basenji one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds on earth, which begs the question:

“Why did the Mangbetu people decide the domesticate the Basenji?”

Now we’d like to tell…

You that the Mangbetu chose to domesticate the Basenji because they’re just gorgeous (FYI, We here at IndulgeYourPet do find Mangbetu’s quite handsome), but the truth is, the Mangbetu chose to domesticate these fantastic animals because the are awesome hunting dogs!

So much so…

That during the early 1800’s and even all the way up to the 1900’s many “foreigners” attempted to bring the Basenji dog breed back to Europe and the America’s so that their “talents” could be used back home.


These attempts were largely unsuccessful mainly because these dogs simply didn’t have the “immune” system to be able to fight off distemper (a viral disease) that killed off many if not all of the early attempts to introduce this breed to the “west”.

That all changed when…

Back in 1929, the Basenji breed was successfully introduced to England which later allowed the Basenji Club of America to be started in 1942.  Shortly afterwards, the American Kennel Club (or AKC) soon “officially” recognized the breed in 1943.

So what kind of dog is a Basenji?

It’s safe to say that at its “core” the Basenji is a hunting dog.  Particularly if they’re being used to hunt in the jungle.  You see, the Basenji is a short agile hunter that is very fast with incredible hearing.

Features that are…

Often used to describe a “Cat” rather than a “Dog”.  Which is often why you’ll commonly hear the Basenji dog breed described as a “catlike” breed.

Yes, a dog with “catlike” characteristics

But unlike most “cats”…

These dogs possess a “pack like” mentality which is why many the Mangbetu people would often use their Basenji dogs to hunt as a pack driving prey or “flushing” prey from the “bush” so that their owners could then capture their targets.

This is also how…

The Basenji dog got his name.

“Basenji” actually means “bush thing”

So, you’ve got to imagine if your name means “bush thing”, you’re probably pretty good and running around through the jungle chasing after small prey.  It also probably means that you’re a tough little dog that isn’t afraid of much!

So, what will my Basenji Dog Look like?

Because Basenji dogs are natural hunters, you’re going to find that their going to be built like a “natural” hunter would be: with a fine coat, sleek physique, prick ears and a tail that curls over the back.

Most Basenji…

Will be about 15 to 18 inches tall and weigh between 20 to 24 pounds.  And will likely have a coat color of either red, black, or black and tan with a white chest and white feet.

Basenji Temperament

It’s important to understand that the Basenji dog breed is a very intelligent dog breed.  So much so, they are considered much smarter than some of the other dog breeds you may be familiar with.

Which is great!  But…

Like the old saying goes…

“The devil will find work for idle paws!”

Which means that you’re going to want to keep your Basenji busy or he’s going to find his own way to keep himself entertained.  And just to warn you, his ideas about what is fun and your ideas may not be the same!

The good news is that…

The Basenji breed is not a super sensitive breed. Meaning that they’re not like one of those dog breeds that are going to be upset when their owner doesn’t give them a TON of attention.

At the same time…

You’re Basenji doesn’t want to be left alone at home all day either.  He is a companion dog and likes to be around humans, he’s just not going to follow you around all day demanding your attention 24/7.


Basenji’s are not “barkers”.  In fact, the Basenji breed is also referred to as the African Barkless dog.  Now they can bark, but for the most part, they just choose not to.  It’s probably more “fair” to say that the Basenji is like the wolf in many respects.

It may…

But once and then goes quiet. You see, the Basenji is all about action, it’s not the type of dog that is just going to bark non-stop.

So, if you live in apartment or have neighbors really close by this dog isn’t going to make your neighbors crazy.

And as long…

As you’re willing to give your Basenji plenty of opportunity to run and play, having a Basenji living in an apartment should be fine.

Basenji and children.

As a general rule of thumb, the Basenji dog breed is a good family dog.  And he or she will generally do well with children in the house.  That said, however, like with most dogs, having small children around isn’t always the best idea.

So, if you do have small children around or toddlers in the home, and you still want to adopt a Basenji right now, we would strongly encourage you to only adopt a Basenji puppy rather than a Basenji rescue dog.  This way you’re puppy will have more time to “acclimate” him or herself to the baby and become better “socialized” from the start.

Training your Basenji…

When training your Basenji, your biggest challenge if going to center around “combating” his or her own natural instincts to chase.  Remember, these dogs are hunting dogs, that are going to have very strong predatory instincts and likes nothing better than to chase and hunt small animals such as rats, mice, moles and squirrels. He is also very smart and knows how to get past an obstacle.


You should be firm and kind while training this dog. Treat him like a very intelligent, but independent minded child. Make use of positive reinforcement techniques to keep him in line.

He can be very rebellious and may not see why he should obey humans. He has this strong independent streak about him.  This is why, you’ll need to provide plenty of positive reinforcement training when working with a Basenji and probably keep plenty of “treats” on hand!

 Does the Basenji have any health issues that you should know about?

The Basenji is generally a very healthy dog, strong, and energetic. But he is known to get afflicted at times by certain ailments such:

  • Fanconi syndrome,
  • Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA)
  • and immunoproliferative small intestinal disease.

Other serious health concerns may include:

Remember this when adopting a Basenji…

Before choosing a Basenji, make sure that he has a CHIC certification. The dog breeders should get the Basenji’s DNA tested for the Fanconi syndrome and have his eyes checked by the Canine Eye Registry Foundation.

The Basenji Club of America wants all breeding dogs to be checked by a veterinary ophthalmologist for the conditions stated above.

This is why we never…

Recommend anyone buy the Basenji puppy from a breeder who cannot provide you with the necessary documentation to show that the dog is truly healthy.

Now at this point…

You’re probably saying to yourself…

“Wait a second, I thought you just said the Basenji dog breed is a healthy breed?”

And we did.  But that doesn’t mean that the breed isn’t also susceptible to certain medical conditions just like any other dog breed.

This is why…

We here at IndulgeYourPet also encourage anyone that is currently considering adopting a new pet to take a moment and see just how much it might cost to purchase a pet insurance policy on that new pet.

This way…

If your new family member does become sick or injured you won’t be burdened with the full cost of their care on your own!  For more information on what a pet insurance policy might cost you, feel free to check out our Best Pet Insurance Companies article.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Barry H. December 14, 2019, 3:34 pm

    We have 4 Basenji and you are right on with your explanation.

    • indulgeyourpet December 15, 2019, 1:25 pm


      We’re glad you approve.



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