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Species group:

Other name(s): African Bush Dog; African Barkless Dog; Ango Angari; Congo Dog; Zande Dog

The basics:
The dapper Basenji is the dog famous for being unable to bark. This classic breed goes back to the time of the Egyptian Pharaohs, whose tombs often depict these dogs sitting at the feet of their masters, with the upright ears and curled tail we see to this very day. Several African tribes prized this hunting hound for its courage, intelligence, and speed, and the legend says they were originally used to hunt lions. Like other hunting dogs, they tend to be active, intelligent, and eager to be with their humans. If you neglect the Basenji, it will find a way to get into trouble, even if it has to scale the fence to do it.

Don't assume the barkless dog is utterly silent. The Basenji is actually a good watchdog, alert and aware-- and capable of creating an alarm call sometimes described as a yodel or even a scream.

Appearance / health:
The Basenji is a small, lightly built dog with a wrinkled head and a tightly curled tail. They have slightly hooded ears and a flat, well-chiseled forehead. The eyes are almond-shaped and are generally hazel to dark brown in color. The gait is a swift trot, similar to a racehorse.

This breed requires little or no grooming. These dogs have a sense of cleanliness similar to the cat, and are quite clean. They emit very little odor. They may be sensitive to some shampoos. Bathing and shampooing can be done occasionally.

These dogs require a great deal of exercise to stay healthy, as they tend to become lazy if the owner is not careful about it. Running and jogging helps these dogs to stay active and fit.

Some Basenjis are known to suffer from a kidney disorder known as Fanconi syndrome, in which the kidneys are unable to properly reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients back into the body, but instead allow them to pass into the urine. To counteract these losses, as noted on periodic blood, urine and venous blood gas tests, inexpensive supplements must be given orally, daily, along with a high-protein diet. With proper supplementation, a Fanconi dog can live a nearly normal and relatively healthy life span. Currently, there is a genetic Fanconi "bridge" test which can identify carriers and potential afflicted Basenjis before breeding

Eye problems, particularly PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) are of concern with Basenjis. Hypothyroid problems are fairly common, and umbilical hernias are common but usually of little concern and don't cause problems requiring surgery.

Behavior / temperament:
One of the most remarkable aspects is that they do not bark but they do yodel, whine, or squeal. Aloof and mischievous, they may try to test the owner's patient some times. They are fast runners and love to chase. In a habit similar to cats, Basenjis tend to clean themselves all over. They lack a doggy odor, and hence are suitable for living indoors with their masters. Their incessant chewing may be a source of concern to the owner. They should not be approached from behind. With strangers, they prefer making the first overtures. The females come into season only once during a year, usually during the winter months. They develop boredom easily, and require adequate amounts of mental stimulation.

Basenjis learn very quickly using positive methods of training like clicker training or lure/reward methods. They are one of the "independent breeds" of dog, and the trick is to convince them that it is in their best interests to do what you want them to do (think of training a cat...). If you take a Basenji to a class that is run by someone who uses leash-jerking or negative methods of training, they will probably flunk the class with a very truculent attitude. With positive, lure-reward methods of training, they will probably lead the class!

They do not bark, but can be noisy by yodeling or whining, especially when left alone.

Is a Basenji right for you?

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What owners are saying about Basenji health

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What owners are saying about Basenji behavior and training

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The barkless dog

The basenji is a very unique breed of dog. They act more like a cat, and like to sleep curled up. They will eat anything you leave within their reach though, so be careful about where you put things. They don't have the ability to bark, so if you need a dog to be quiet because...

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