Small Dog Breeds > Basenji

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The Basenji, a hunting dog and member of the Hound group, originates from central Africa. Basenjis are an ancient small dog breed and have lived with humans for thousands of years in Africa. Dogs resembling Basenjis can be seen on monuments in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs. They were originally prized for their small game hunting abilities.

Basenjis make an unusual yodel-like sound due to their oddly shaped larynxes instead of barking. This makes them ideal for apartment dwellers. Their bark-less nature is thought to have evolved from the need to not alert human enemies to their owners encampments in the forest regions of the Congo Basin. Some think the louder dogs in the breed were killed to attain today’s breed. The breed also lacks a distinctive odor.

Basenjis are small, short-haired dogs with tiny curled tails and erect ears. Their eyes are normally almond-shaped, which commonly leads people unfamiliar with the breed to think they’re squinting. Basenji’s have wrinkled foreheads, which is more accentuated during their youth. They typically live thirteen to fourteen years.

The dogs typically weight approximately 24 pounds and stand around 16 inches at the withers. Their height is as long as their length giving them a square appearance. Despite their diminutive size, they’re particularly athletic and powerful. Their gait resembles those of trotting horses and their tail straightens out during running at top speeds for balance.

Basenjis can become emotionally attached to their owner. However, they’re somewhat reserved around strangers but still curious, energetic and alert. They often don’t do well around non-canine pets and can be a handful for unprepared owners since they like to climb and can easily jump over chain wire fences. They also dislike wet weather.

When Basenjis are curious, they’ll stand on their hind legs alone or by leaning on something like a counter. Basenjis can be trained if the training is consistent and done with lots of treats. They do not respond well to yelling.

Coat and Color

Basenjis have white stomachs and chests and come in either black, red, brindle, trindle (rare), or tricolor.

Basenji's have cat-like grooming habits. Because of this, they shouldn't need a bath more than every few months. However, their teeth should be brushed a couple times a week and their nails should be clipped regularly.

Height 16" at the withers
Weight 24 lbs
Life Span 13-14 years
Temperament Curious, energetic, alert
Hypoallergenic No
Basenjis can suffer from Fanconi Syndrome, which can cause kidney failure, and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), which causes blindness. Other ailments they can suffer from include Hemolytic Anemia (HA), hypothyroidism, and immunoproliferative systemic intestinal disease. It’s best to use natural, organic solvents and cleaners around them as household chemicals may cause them to have liver problems. Common health issues include urologic and dermatologic problems.

About 30 percent of Basenjis die from old age. The balance die from urologic and behavior-related problems and cancer.

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