Updated 08-07-2023

Basenji Characteristics, Facts & Traits

The Congo is where the Basenji dog was first discovered in Africa. Originally used to flush small prey into nets and reduce rodent populations, these dogs have evolved into a variety of hunting and tracking canines. They can also be wonderful, loving, and cuddly members of the family these days.

For the person or family who can keep up with these dogs, they are excellent companions. These pups are perfect for first-time dog owners because they are small enough to live in an apartment. Just make sure you have enough time and energy to keep up with their burgeoning vigour. Walking and playing with your dog is a must.

Here in this article find out more about the Basenji dog breed!


  • They don't usually bark, but their yodels, whines, and cries can be quite disturbing.
  • They are a challenge to teach. Basenjis have thrived for millennia thanks to their ability to think on their own. They don't understand the point in obeying humans. Positive reinforcement can be effective to some extent, but they will only obey when they feel like it.
  • Basenjis are known for their high levels of energy. Otherwise, they will become destructive or find other ways to release their pent-up aggression. In the absence of supervision, a crate should be used.
  • Basenjis treat each other as though they were part of the same family. A yard with food and water is not enough for them. They're time-consuming and attention-grabbing.
  • Because of their natural drive to chase, they don't perform well in households with other tiny animals. It is possible for them to do well if they are raised with cats, but they are not advised for households with hamsters, gerbils or rats or mice or guinea pigs.
  • Basenjis are stubborn, and if you try to overcome their intransigence with force, you may end up with a confused and violent Basenji.
  • Unless in a secure yard, it is impossible to leave a Basenji unattended.
  • These dogs are masters of the art of evasion art. If a wood fence is too high, they'll jump over it, or they'll dash through an open door.
  • Never buy a puppy from a puppy mill, negligent breeder, or pet retailer if you want a healthy dog. To avoid passing on hereditary disorders to their offspring, a respectable breeder will do temperament and health testing on all of her breeding dogs.


Social Appearance 


Contrary to common assumption, being a little dog does not automatically equate to being an apartment pet. Many tiny dogs have too much energy and are too yappy to live in an apartment building. An apartment dog's best attributes include being quiet, low energy, somewhat peaceful indoors, and respectful to the other inhabitants. And if you want to give your dog a bit more privacy in your apartment, this is the place to shop for a fantastic dog crate.

Sensitivity Level

Some dogs take a strong rebuke in stride, while others take even the tiniest hint of a sneer into account. "Easygoing," "resilient" and "thick-skinned" dogs may better endure a noisy, chaotic environment, an aggressive or boisterous owner, and an unpredictable or erratic schedule. Does your life revolve around entertaining, having a full-time job, having small children, or being in a band? Choose a dog that isn't overly sensitive.


You can't tell from looking at the dog whether they're energetic or not, but whatever they do, it's with gusto. They pull hard on the leash (unless you teach them otherwise), charge headlong over obstacles, even down food and water. A home with young children or an elderly or feeble person may not be the best place for these dynamos to learn proper etiquette. When it comes to their approach to life, a low-vigor dog is more laid back.

Potential for Playfulness

Some dogs never grow out of their puppyhood and are always looking for a game to play, while other dogs are more serious and sombre in their outlook on life. Think just how many games of fetch or tag your dog will need to play each day, as well as if you have children or other canines who can serve as playmates.

Personality Appearance


Sheepdogs, which were intended to herd animals and require a high level of intelligence and attention, need mental exercise just as much as dogs raised to gallop all day do. Digging and chewing are two examples of activities that a bored pet will engage in if they don't obtain the mental stimulation they need. Dog sports and occupations, like agility and search and rescue, are excellent ways to offer a dog a mental workout in addition to traditional methods of training and interactive dog toys.

Energy Level

Dogs with a high level of energy are always ready for action. A canine job, such as retrieving game for hunters or herding animals requires a lot of stamina; these dogs were originally designed for that purpose. They're more likely to spend time jumping, playing, and exploring new sights and smells if they're getting the exercise and cerebral stimulation they require.

Dozing all day is the preferred mode of activity for dogs with low levels of energy. Think about your own level of activity and lifestyle when choosing a dog breed. Is a feisty, lively dog something you'll enjoy or find annoying?

Easy To Train

Dogs that are easy to train are better at quickly creating an association between a cue (such as "sit"), an action (such as sitting), and a reward (such as a treat). Other dogs require a greater investment of time, patience, and repetition to successfully complete their training.

You'll need to utilize incentives and games to get your dog excited about training because many breeds are intelligent but have a "What's in it for me?" training mentality.

Family Affection Level

Affectionate With Family

Even if they've been nurtured by the same person since puppyhood, some breeds are stubborn and aloof; others form strong bonds with a single person and are uninterested in anybody else; and still others exhibit unconditional love to everyone in the household. It's not just the breed that influences a dog's level of attachment; canines who were raised in a home with people around are more likely to form strong bonds with humans.


A kid-friendly dog must be kind with children, strong enough to withstand the hefty pets and embraces they can give out, and tolerant of running, scream-inducing toddlers. There are a few names on there that you would not expect: Fierce-looking Both Boxers and American Staffordshire Terriers are regarded as family dogs (which are considered Pit Bulls). When it comes to family-friendly small dogs, Chihuahuas aren't always the best option.

Dog Friendly

Friendship with dogs and friendship with people are two very different things. It's not uncommon for dogs to attack or try to dominate each other, even if they're known as "lovebugs" by their owners. It's not just a matter of what kind of dog you have. At six to eight weeks of age, puppies should have spent a lot of time playing with their littermates and their mother, and they are more likely to have good social skills.

Physical Appearance

Amount of Shedding

In order to have a dog in your home, you'll have to cope with some level of dog hair on your clothing and in your home. It's worth noting, however, that shedding varies widely among breeds. Some dogs shed all year long, while others "blow" just during specific times of the year, and still others don't shed at all. Pick a breed that sheds less or lower your requirements if cleanliness is important to you. You can get excellent de-shedding equipment to assist keep your house a little cleaner.

Drooling Potential

Wet spots may be left on your clothes and your arm by canines that are more prone to slobbering than others. In the event that you aren't concerned about your dog's drool, you can go ahead and get one that isn't as messy as you'd prefer.

Easy To Groom

To keep them clean and healthy, certain dog breeds only require a quick brushing after which they're ready to go. Grooming a dog that requires a lot of time and patience may not be in your best interest if you do not have the time or the money to do so.

Exercise Needs

Walking around the neighbourhood in the evening is quite acceptable for some breeds. Many other breeds, such as those developed for labour-intensive vocations like herding or hunting, require regular exercise.

These dogs can gain weight and release their pent-up energy in ways you don't enjoy, including barking, chewing, and digging, if they are not given enough exercise. If you're an active person who likes to go outside and play with your dog, you should consider a breed that requires a lot of activity.

Average sizes and life expectancy of the breed


22 to 24 pounds


10 to 12 years


16 to 17 inches tall at the shoulder


The origins of Basenjis can be traced back to pariah dogs in Egypt and subsequently to hunting dogs for the Congolese tribes. The Basenjis typically wore bells on their collars to let their human partners know where they were in the dense jungle when they were running in packs. Throughout their history, they have been and continue to be known for their sharp eyesight and great sense of smell.

Mrs. Burn, an Englishwoman, gave the basenji its name in 1936. The word "basenji" means "dog of the bush" in the region of Africa where the Congo dog or Congo derrier was once known. Despite its obvious hunting nature, the breed is still argued as to whether it belongs in the sighthound or the scenthound family. While Basenjis are permitted to compete in lure coursing (a sighthound sport), some people believe they belong in the terrier family.

As a way to combat health issues, many Zaire-bred basenjis were brought to this country in the 1980s and added to the AKC gene pool. The brindle colour pattern was also brought into the western basenji by these new additions. Genetically and developmentally, Basenjis are regarded as being fairly primitive. They have only one estrus season per year, unlike most domestic dogs.

Personality and Temperament

With his family, the basenji is a highly devoted dog, yet he is aloof to outsiders. Because they were bred to hunt in packs, they get along well with other dogs when socialised early on. In contrast, some basenjis are known to be contentious with their peers.

Basenjis are intelligent yet difficult to train. Their best traits can only be fully realised with careful and meticulous management. They don't bark, as previously said, but their yodelling is rather loud. They can be chewers and diggers if left to their own devices.

Basenji owners and breeders often describe their dogs as "catlike" because of their quiet demeanor and penchant for licking themselves clean. They also appear to enjoy climbing to the tops of tall buildings, perhaps to spy on their realms. In the minds of some dog owners, the Basenji has terrier-like temperaments since it is so fiery for its size. They tend to be described as having cat-like characteristics, such as being intelligent, inquisitive, stubborn, and self-reliant. It is clear that they have a strong hunting heritage, as they like stalking and following their prey.

They will get irritated and destructive if they do not receive regular mental and physical stimulation. Despite their lack of bark, Basenjis are far from silent. If you listen closely, you'll hear a distinct "fox bark" sound coming from their yodel or scream or screech. Basenjis can get along well with other dogs, but they often don't get along with each other.


Fortunately, taking care of a basenji isn't too onerous. A well-behaved dog, on the other hand, requires continuous and early training and socialisation. Spend at least 1 hour a day working out with your basenji.


As with any dog, Basenjis are susceptible to a variety of health issues. If you're thinking about getting a Basenji, you should be informed of the ailments that might affect this breed.

Fanconi Syndrome

Patients with Fanconi syndrome, a kidney illness, are unable to break down carbohydrates and proteins normally. The protein that the dog needs to survive is excreted in his faeces. In addition to thirst, urination, and high glucose levels in the urine, there are many more symptoms. Affected canines are often between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. Until recently, Fanconi syndrome was thought to be fatal in dogs, but a new treatment method has improved their prognosis significantly. 

There is no remedy for this. There is no way to tell if a dog is a carrier of the disease. Treatment does not have to be expensive, but it takes a lot of time because your dog has to take up to 30 medications a day to be effective. It's important to know which dogs in a respectable breeder's lineage have produced dogs with Fanconi Syndrome and which ones haven't.

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia)

Pyruvate kinase, an enzyme necessary for the maintenance of healthy red blood cells, is a hereditary disease that affects Basenjis. They frequently don't make it to their second birthday if they have this sickness in their Basenji.


Symptoms of hypothyroidism include infertility, obesity, mental dullness, and a loss of energy as a result of an absence of thyroid hormone. Fur can become coarse and brittle, sometimes falling out, and the skin can become harsh and black. Thyroid replacement therapy, taken once daily, is an excellent treatment option. The dog will need to be medicated for the rest of his or her life.

Immunoproliferative Systemic Intestinal Disease

Malabsorption, or irritable bowel illness in humans, is a common name for this disorder. Dogs with ISID appear to be allergic to the food they eat all the time. Dogs with this condition will struggle to acquire weight and have persistent loose stools. A variety of approaches are employed, such as stress reduction, frequent dietary modifications, and the administration of medications to reduce histamine release. Basenjis are significantly less likely than in the past to suffer from this illness.


In the medical community, a gap or hole in the eye's structure is referred to as a coloboma. In most cases, the gap is located at the base of the eye. This disease may be passed on in families but no patterns have been found. Depending on the size and location of the hole, the condition's effects can be modest or severe. To prevent the spread of the disease, affected puppies must be sterilised or spayed.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

It used to be a minor issue in Basenjis, but now it has become a major one. An eye illness called PRA affects the retina and causes it to degenerate over time. Dogs in early stages of the condition develop night blindness. They also lose their daytime eyesight as the condition progresses. As long as their surroundings do not change, many dogs can cope with the loss of some or all of their vision quite well. The eyes of reputable breeders are examined by a veterinary ophthalmologist every year, and they do not breed dogs with this condition.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)

Pupillary Membranes, which remain in the eye even after birth, are tissue remnants of what was formerly the foetal membrane that fed the eyes' lenses. They usually go away by the time a puppy is four or five weeks old, although this is not always the case.

There are a number of places where these strands can be found in the eye, including the iris, the lens, and the cornea. The strands don't bother many dogs, and they usually fall out by the time they're 8 weeks old. Cataracts and corneal opacities can result if the strands do not break down. Breaking them down with eye drops suggested by your veterinarian is a good way to go.

Umbilical hernia

Abdominal fat or other internal organs might protrude from the abdominal wall near the umbilicus at birth. If the hernia is only a few centimetres long, there is no need to treat it. At 6 months of age, some minor hernias close on their own, and some dogs have lived with small hernias for their whole lives.

Spaying or neutering a dog is a common time to address large hernias. An intestine loop falling into the hernia can cause life-threatening "strangulation" of the intestine, which is why surgery is employed to prevent it.

Hip Dysplasia

The thigh bone does not fit securely into the hip joint in this hereditary disease. When a dog has hip dysplasia, it may or may not show any signs of pain or disability in the back legs. Arthritis can occur in a dog as he gets older. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program provide X-ray screenings for hip dysplasia. There should be no breeding of dogs with hip dysplasia.

Buying a puppy? Make sure the parents have been checked for hip dysplasia and are clear of any issues. A puppy's weight gain can lead to hip dysplasia, but it can also be triggered by environmental factors, such as jumping or falling on slippery flooring. As a result, the disease can be found in puppies whose parents were unaffected.

Recommended Health Tests 

  1. Hip Evaluation
  2. Ophthalmologist Evaluation
  3. Thyroid Evaluation
  4. PRA-BJ1 DNA Test
  5. Fanconi Syndrome DNA Test


Commercially prepared or homemade dog food should be fed to Basenjis. A veterinarian's opinion should always be sought when creating a homemade diet to ensure that it is nutritionally sound. Your Basenji's stage of life should be taken into consideration while deciding on a nutrition plan. As with any dog, it is important to keep an eye on your Basenji's weight and not give them too many treats. Avoid giving your Basenji table scraps, which can be bad for them and cause gastrointestinal distress. 


When it comes to maintaining their look, Basenjis are just like cats and don't need much help from you. Regular bathing isn't necessary because they don't have an undercoat and don't have a strong odour. A gentle brushing with a hound glove or a soft bristle brush can help maintain the health of the Basenji's coat. The Basenji's nails should be clipped periodically and their teeth brushed.


To keep Basenjis happy and healthy, they will need to exercise at least once a day. It's a good idea to give your Basenji at least 40 minutes of strenuous exercise every day. Without a fence, Basenjis, with their strong hunting instincts, may bolt in search of some unfortunate prey. Lure coursing, which takes advantage of the Basenji's innate hunting instincts, is one of the many dog sports that the breed participates in.


Because of their stubbornness and a tendency to grow bored easily, Basenjis can be difficult to teach. The ingenuity of a Basenji may allow them to acquire a new ability quickly, but whether they can consistently follow the command is another matter. Basenjis respond well to training methods emphasizing patience and good reward. Remember that Basenjis don't have a lot of patience for extensive training sessions, so it's better to keep them brief and full of praise and reward.

Children and Other Pets

Even while Basenjis aren't known to be particularly affectionate toward children, their high level of energy makes them an excellent playmate for older children. Dogs should be raised with children from puppyhood if they are going to be around them. As a rule, an adult Basenji who is unfamiliar with children should live in a home with children who are old enough to properly engage with him.

Always teach youngsters how to approach and touch dogs, and supervise any interactions between dogs and small children to avoid any biting or ear or tail pulling on the part of either party. Make it clear to your child that approaching or attempting to remove a dog's food is never acceptable. A dog and a youngster should never be left alone.

As long as the Basenji has been raised with cats and other small animals, he shouldn't be trusted in the presence of these animals. Cats and other little creatures he sees outside will not be recognised. They're not off limits.


The only difference is that Basenji pups eat more frequently because their stomachs are too small to process a large amount of food at one time. It is best to begin teaching these dogs as soon as possible, as they are easy to learn and can form habits rapidly.

When purchasing a Basenji puppy from a breeder, the price ranges from $1,200 to $1,800. Do your research and avoid purchasing from puppy mills or animal shelters. There are responsible breeders who will ensure that the puppy's parents are in good health. Their puppies will be examined by a veterinarian and given the necessary vaccinations and dewormers.

Dog breeds related to Basenji Dogs

Even while Basenjis are loyal and loving, they aren't for everyone. To help you narrow down your options, we've provided a list of dogs that are comparable to the Basenji.


Children love these dogs because they are friendly, affectionate, and patient. The coat of a Harrier is thicker than that of a Basenji, which is common in the United Kingdom. If you can get over the excessive shedding, this hound is a lot of fun to be around.


These dogs are a joy to be around because they are so affectionate and kind. The beagle, like the Harrier, is extremely gregarious, which makes it difficult for them to be an effective watchdog.

American FoxHound

This hound is also well-known for its devotion and devotion to its owner. Like many hound breeds, it can be stubborn and aggressive in particular situations. It sheds very little, much like a Basenji.