A handsome and athletically built dog, the Basenji is small in size, and has an eager, alert, and intelligent expression. The coat of the Basenji is smooth and sleek, and the coloring can vary and includes brindle, copper or red, black and brindle, or black and tan, all with white markings. The Basenji also has a distinctive white blaze on the face.
These dogs can sometimes give the impression that they are quite worried about something due to their naturally furrowed brow. The height of the Basenji is around 16-17 inches, and the weight is around 20-25 pounds.
Very intelligent and affectionate, the Basenji has a playful and curious disposition. The Basenji is a dog that is eager to place, and is energetic and alert, and although these dogs do not bark this enables them to be effective as watchdogs. The breed is not always suited to younger children that may tease it, and should only be housed with other pets if he has been properly socialized. The Basenji can have a dominant streak too, and can be manipulative sometimes, and is therefore best suited to more experienced dog owners. The Basenji can be wary in nature, and although they don't bark they can - and do - make other sounds including plenty of whining.
It is important not to neglect your Basenji or to leave him to get bored, as this can lead to destructive behavior. This keen and eager breed can is a very independent thinker, and in order to show him who's boss you do need to be assertive and firm during training, although the training should always be positive as the breed has a tendency to become defensive in some circumstances. This dog does like to chew, and this should be taken into consideration if you are planning to leave this dog alone for any period of time.
The grooming requirements for a Basenji are low, as this breed does not shed much at all, and has a sleek, easy to maintain coat. An occasional brushing of the coat is all that is required to get rid of any dead hair, and an occasional rub down with a damp cloth will also help to keep the coat glossy and in good condition.
The Basenji is a very old breed of dog with his origin stemming way back to ancient times. It has been said that they originated in Africa and considered an "African import" at some point. The first signs of this dog (or dogs thought to be Basenji because of the similarities) were found and seen in Egyptian tombs and wall hangings over 5,000 years ago. In the late 1800s, they were prized as hunting dogs in the Congo because of their great speed and intelligence as they would track their wild game right into nets while waiting for the master to come.
Attempts to bring the Basenji dog to England in the early 1900s failed when most of them died from diseases. They were brought into Europe in 1934 under the name of Congo Dog. Breeders experimented, refined the breed and transferred it all over the world with the help and expertise of breeder Henry Trefflich. The American Kennel Club recognized the breed of Basenji in 1943, and in 1990, several imports of the breed were added in the books.
Because of their intelligence and high energy level, there are different types of training that can be given to the Basenji dog. Due to their great prey drive, which is what they were bred for, most Basenji excel in lure coursing. This consists of a white plastic lure (or bunny) attached to a continuous loop run by a machine that has an operator, which controls the speed. The competition is in a field and must be at least 600 yards long with four turns or more. The dogs get points based on overall ability, speed, and skill in following the lure, agility and endurance. Basenji dogs are not necessarily bred for lure coursing and can be tested at a young age to see if they will be successful at the sport.
Conformation is something else that the Basenji dog can compete for in the ring. Because their coat is short and they require so little upkeep, half the battle is won. Training your dog to walk and look elegant like his breed represents will be a great experience. A Basenji breeder may be able to give you some advice on this.
Obedience is not something that the Basenji is known for, but with hard work and dedication, your dog can be trained. As with all dogs, even the Basenji, they strive to please their owners. They have an abundance of energy that needs to be put in a positive direction and positive reinforcement training works best with them as well as firmness. Many Basenji owners say that you need to make the dog think that what you want him to do is his idea and he will be more willing to do this. Dogs need affection, enthusiasm and exercise. If they get all these, the training will be much easier. If you feel you can't do this on your own, talk with a professional trainer that can either give you advice or enroll him in a training course. Training of any kind, especially obedience, should start at a young age.
The life expectancy of the Basenji is around thirteen years. There are a number of health problems associated with the Basenji, and these include eye defects, PKD, Fanconi's Syndrome, malabsorbtion, thyroid problems, hip dysplasia, and digestive problems. Parents of your Basenji puppy should have OFA and CERF certification.