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Basenji Information


Basenjis are small, athletic, elegant, shorthaired, unusual dogs with a graceful neck, tightly curled tail, and erect ears.  Their almond shaped eyes give them the appearance of squinting.  Basenjis have shiny, smooth, wiry coats of black and bridle, black and tan, red, and copper, and normally with white on their tail tip, feet, and chest.  It has a slight build with its torso appearing shorter than its hind legs, which gives the basenji its double suspension gallop and swift gait.  Sometimes referred to as the barkless breed, basenjis are not mute.  Instead of barking, they make many sounds such as a howl, yodel, shriek, whine, and other noises.        


Basenji are a breed of dog with many catlike qualities such as it strong dislike of water, using their paws to wash themselves, stubbornness, and inquisitiveness.  They are curious, very energetic, demanding, affectionate dogs that love playing.  Regular handing and socializing from an early age, makes them a wonderful pet.  Basenjis are very intelligent and love to please, so they are normally easy to train.  Although reserved with strangers, they often form strong bonds with family members.  Basenjis are patient but normally, they do better with considerate, older children.  This breed likes to chew and climb and is very clever in ways to escape over wire fencing.    

Grooming & Shedding

Basenjis are perfect for people with allergies because they shed lightly or not at all and are odorless.  Because, like a cat, they wash themselves, they require very little grooming.  If they do require a bath, be sure to use shampoo or flea shampoo for sensitive skin.  Always test this on the dogs belly first before bathing to be sure they are not allergic.  If the area becomes raw or red, do not use that brand of shampoo.  Although they require no grooming for showing, some of the breeders trim the tail hair.     


The basenji is an ancient dog breed originating in Africa, reverenced, and respected for thousands of years by humans.  Dating back over five thousand years are pictures of this dog on tombs and wall drawings in Egyptian tombs.  They brought the basenji dog, also known as the Congo dog, to Europe in 1934.  After refining the breed, English breeders then exported the basenji to locations worldwide.  In Africa today, they still use the basenji as a pack hunting small game dog, forest guides, and a watchdog warning of dangerous, approaching animals.   

 Health Issues

  • Major Concerns: Fanconi syndrome (kidney disease), PRA (progressive renal atrophy), basenji enteropathy
  • Minor Concerns:  PPM (eyes) PK (Pyruvate kinase deficiency)
  • Occasionally seen: hip dysplasia
  • Suggested tests: DNA, Fanconi urine test



Males 16-17 inches (41-43 cm)

Females 15-16 inches (38-41 cm)


Dogs 22-26 pounds (10-12 kg)

Bitches 20-25 pounds (9-11 kg)


10-12 years


Medium to high


Yes –with regular exercise



Young Children


Need exercise space

Yes – small yard is ideal

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