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Basenji Dog Breed

Thousands of years ago, the Basenji dog was the companion of the African Pygmies who used it to hunt and as a guard dog. Around 3,500 BC, the Basenji was adopted by the Egyptians and is depicted on many Egyptian artefacts.

Other Names: Dog that does not bark. Congo Dog

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Origin: Congo River, Central Africa

Breed Purpose: Hunting the Reed Rat, (a fearsome long toothed creature that could weigh up to 20lbs, now extinct)

Kennel Club Dog Group: Hound

Height: Bitch, 38-41cm. Dog, 41-43cm.

Weight: Bitch, 9-11kg. Dog, 10-12kg.

Lifespan: 10-14 years

Exercise Needs: The Basenji needs plenty of daily exercise being a sight hound. They will chase and kill wildlife so make sure the exercise area is safe. If this dog does not get enough free running exercise it will become unhealthy and can often develop serious behavioural problems.

Diet & Feeding Needs: This dog needs a good quality diet but will do best if given a natural home prepared diet of meat, rice, vegetables and fruit. Do not feed too many treats as the Basenji can become a fussy eater.

Health Problems: The Basenji is a fairly healthy and robust dog with few breed health issues. They can suffer with Progressive Retinal Atrophy, (PRA) and Fanconi Syndrome, (a disease of the kidneys). They do not like the cold weather, much preferring to be in tropical climates. A coat should be used in winter to keep the dog warm.

Physical Description: The overall appearance of the Basenji is one of an aristocratic, elegant dog with an alert and proud expression. The Basenji does not bark but makes a yodelling noise instead. They groom themselves just like a cat and cannot bear to be dirty. The head is medium sized and is well-chiselled with a flat skull and a muzzle that tapers from the eyes to the nose. Basenji puppies have very loose skin that hangs in folds around the neck. As adults the skin smoothes out leaving a few wrinkles on the forehead that make the dog appear to be frowning. The eyes are almond shaped with a piercing gaze. The ears are small and pointed and are carried erect, set forward on the skull. The neck is well set into the shoulders going down to a short, straight body with well sprung ribs and short loins and a clearly defined waist. The limbs are finely boned and strong and the hind legs are muscular with well let down hocks. The tail is set high and can curl up to three times over the back before falling to one side of the body. The coat is short and silky. The coat colours are red/white, black/white, Black/tan/white with tan melon pips and mask. White can appear on the feet, chest, tip of tail, and as a blaze on the face. All in all this is an elegant looking dog that shows its independence and slightly aloof nature.

Basenji Dog Breed Summary:

The Basenji was the dog favoured by the Pharaohs who believed it would accompany them to the“other side”.

Originally used by the Pygmies to hunt animals (even lions), they attributed the Basenji to having magical powers to protect them from evil spirits.

Today the Basenji has not lost any of its ancestors' traits. It is not a docile dog and can be good at guarding its family.

As it doesn't bark and has an easy to care for coat, many people assume that this dog is perfect for apartment life. In fact the Basenji can be very vocal as the breed has a characteristic yodel that sounds much like a baby crying or human laughter.

They dislike small living spaces and towns and cities, much preferring to live in the countryside.

This dog is not for a novice dog owner and needs someone who can train this wilful dog to be obedient. The owner must be able to demonstrate natural authority and be a competent trainer.

As well as having cat-like grooming habits the Basenji also has a cat's attitude, being both independent and aloof. This makes it difficult to get them to obey commands.

Consistency is the key, as well as not overloading them with too many commands in a short space of time.

Insist on the basics and be content with small successes in your Basenji training, as this is not a dog that will perform endless tricks for its master. Their strong, independent nature will never allow that! Once the owner has earned the respect of the Basenji it becomes a charming companion.

They really adore children of any age and would rather be amongst children than with other dogs. This is not a suitable choice of breed for the average family.

This dog can trace its ancestry back over 5000 years and is genetically one of the “original dogs”.

The Basenji needs a loving family that will respect its independent, free spirit and can give the dog the outdoor and active life it deserves.

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