Basenji – A Barkless Gift From Central Africa


The Basenji, also known as the Congo Dog, the Belgian Congo Dog, or the Barkless dog of Africa, was first recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1943. The name “Basenji” means “bush-thing.” This is a very old breed of hunting dogs that was bred from stock originating in Central Africa and brought to Europe in around 1934. These dogs are used in Africa as forest guides, and also to warn people against the advance of dangerous animals. As an AKC recognized breed, Basenjis are a member of the hound group. As sight hounds, those hounds that hunt by sight rather than scent, they are eligible to compete in lure coursing trials. Basenjis also compete in obedience trials and some of them earned the Utility Dog title, the highest class title offered by AKC.

Basenji is a small, poised, elegant-looking, short-haired dog with erect ears, a tightly curled tail, a graceful neck and wrinkled forehead with a graceful, confident and distinctive horse-like running gait. Basenji dogs typically weigh 24 pounds (11 kg) and stand 16 inches (40.6 cm) at the withers. They are typically a square breed, which means that they are as long as they are tall. The dog conveys an elegant and graceful appearance with balanced structure and regular musculature which also allow facility and agility in its movements. The basenji is recognized in the following standard colorations: red, black, tricolor (black with tan in the traditional pattern), and brindle (black stripes on a background of red), all with white feet, chest and tail tip.

Basenji puppies is commonly known as the “barkless dog,” but can make a lot of other unusual vocalizations. He may yodel, howl, growl or crow, depending on his mood. The breed’s characteristic yodel or chortle can often sound like human laughter or crying. Unlike most other domestic breeds, which have two heats per year, the female Basenji comes into heat only once a year usually between August and November.

In behavior and temperament they have some traits in common with cats. They clean themselves all over, spending hours grooming themselves just like a cat and have no doggie smell, so very little grooming is needed. This is a good dog for people with allergies. This breed sheds little to no hair. The Basenji does not like the wet weather and hates the rain. However Basenjis cope well with hot conditions.

The basenji is an athletic dog and is deceptively powerful for its size. It can be described as speedy, frisky, very attentive, tireless at play, and teasing the owner into play. The Basenji need vigorous daily exercise as they have a tendency to become fat and lazy. This breed needs a long daily walk.

Basenji puppies are an intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. Their high intelligence leads to antisocial and destructive behavior. The breed tends to be independent yet doesn’t do well if left alone. He needs of much company, and if brought up alone can become very destructive. Basenjis may not get along with non-canine pets but is happiest when kept with two or three other Basenji. It is advised that they are socialized early on as this will prevent the tendency to fight with other dogs. They can be aloof with strangers but generally love children.

Obedience training is crucial for this breed, as Basenji puppies are very energetic. All Basenjis should learn the basic commands of sit, stay, heel, and come. The training regime should be varied; otherwise they will get bored very quickly. These dogs tend to become involved in destructive behavior if they are left alone for too long, and will need proper training to change this behavior.

Make sure to take the dog to the vet regularly as they are very prone to developing a kidney problem called Fanconi’s syndrome and PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), which causes blindness.