“Independent, smart, poised”, these are the three words that the American Kennel Club uses to describe the Basenji. This African hunting dog is of medium size; with males measuring 17” and females measuring 16”. Males typically weigh around 24 pounds and females around 22 pounds. They have wrinkled foreheads, tightly curled tails, and expressive eyes. Basenjis have small erect ears, set forward atop their heads. They have distinctive wrinkles on their forehead which appear when their ears are erect. Their short coats consist of fine hair. They come in various colors; chestnut red, black, tricolor or brindle – all with white feet, chest, and tip of tail.
Basenjis have lovely side movement and are built to move with ease. They are graceful, elegant and very alert. Due to the odd shape of their larynx, they are unable to bark and are sometimes referred to as the African Barkless Dog. They do produce a sound similar to a yodel and are not silent dogs. They can whine, growl and produce other sounds. They are clean and have little to no doggy body odor. This cat-like, medium-sized breed may sound like your cup of tea, but don’t get one based on their looks. These high-energy dogs are hunters with a well-developed prey drive and are not for the faint of heart. Though affectionate, their independent temperament, as well as their aloof and strong-willed nature, means they are not the ideal companion for inexperienced owners.
According to the AKC, ”Basenjis are contenders for the title of oldest AKC breed. Paleontologists tell us that the first domesticated dogs looked a lot like Basenjis. They were already well established when they were brought up the Nile from interior Africa as gifts for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Basenjis are depicted in ancient Egyptian artifacts, and traces of the breed can also be seen in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art.”
They are agile dogs that can excel at many canine events and organized sports. Keep in mind, however, that like most hounds, Basenjis are not easy to train. An inexperienced owner may have their hands full with this argumentative breed. That said, Basenji owners can tell you how rewarding it is to earn this dog’s trust and affection. For more information or to find a breeder, go to the Basenji Club of America.