"Independent, Smart, Poised," those are the words that the American Kennel Club uses to describe the Basenji dog breed, one of the world's oldest dog breeds. Those words could not be more accurate. These small, lovable hounds are some of the best dogs to have for a myriad of reasons.
Sadly, these little pups are not as popular as they probably should be, given their impressive intelligence and lovable personality.
If you're curious about the Basenji, here's what you need to know and where you can find one of these adorable dogs!
History of the Basenji Dog Breed
If you've ever been to Egypt and looked at the carvings in the stones of the Pharaoh's tombs, the Basenji dog might look familiar. These little dogs were very prevalent around Egypt thousands of years ago. They also made their way to central Africa - in particular, the Congo. That's where the Basenji got its unique name. It comes from the languages there and means "village dog."
As with many dogs, they didn't make their way to the United States until the mid-20th century. Like humans, they came over on boats. In the US, people refined these little pups to be skilled hunters and workers and, to this day, modern Basenji dogs still have these traits.
Basenji dogs have a distinct appearance and more than a few distinguishing characteristics. In terms of appearance, it is a small, short-haired dog that has a short back and a light frame overall. It has a curled tail, prominent ears, and an air of poise and gracefulness in its demeanor.
The Basenji dog is the ideal house dog for a few reasons. First, it has a fastidious routine of cleaning itself. In this respect, the Basenji acts more like a cat than a dog since cats also have a similar cleaning pattern. Furthermore, in part due to that cleaning pattern, the Basenji lacks a "dog odor" that you'll find on so many other pups. That cleanliness makes the Basenji a perfect dog for people who want a low maintenance dog but don't want to deal with some of the dirt and grime that dogs tend to bring into the home.
Basenjis also don't bark. Instead, these pups make what's called a Basenji yodel. It's an impressive, unique sound that you'd have to hear to understand. If you're worried about dogs barking too loudly in your home, getting Basenji puppies might be an option since the Basenji dog breed can't bark!
Basenji Food and Care
There's nothing particularly special about Basenji food. Any standard, well-made small breed dog food will suffice for the Basenji. Taste of the Wild and Science Diet are two popular dog food brands that you might find in your local pet store, and both would be just fine for your new Basenji.
Basenjis are very active dogs that require a lot of exercise. They can sit in your apartment or home all day, but you'll need to give them the ability to run around and play with relative frequency. Boredom can lead to the Basenji becoming destructive, and you most certainly don't want that! Be sure to take them out on walks and give them dog toys to play with.
For the most part, this breed is relatively healthy. If you buy the dog from a responsible breeder or adopt from a shelter, they'll screen for all the common diseases.
With the right care and some luck, Basenjis can have a great dog life expectancy. They can live between 12 and 16 years. Some Basenjis can even live to 17 or 18 years, depending on the circumstances.
Basenji Adoption: Is It an Option?
If you want a Basenji, you'll have to find one either from an adoption shelter or a breeder. As with most purebred dogs, there aren't a lot of them at dog shelters. There is an organization, Basenji Rescue and Transport, that aims to make Basenji adoption more straightforward and more affordable. However, there are frequently few options on the site since they get snapped up pretty quickly.
So, more likely than not, you'll have to acquire a Basenji from a breeder. Breeders can charge between $800 and $2,500 for a Basenji. If you're paying less than that, there's probably something wrong with the dog (always ask to see all medical records), and if you're paying more, you're likely getting ripped off.
Given that adoption might be a couple of hundred dollars and you'd be giving a deserving dog a second chance to live in a comfortable, happy home, please check your local shelters first to see if they have one first. If they don't, consider getting one from a responsible breeder.
The Basenji Dog Breed: An Underrated Canine Companion
While Basenjis are not as popular as some of the other dogs (like the Golden Retriever, for example), these canines make nearly perfect pets. Their smart, intelligent disposition, combined with their clean habits, make them an ideal canine companion. Indeed, when thinking about Basenjis as a whole, it's hard to beat the combination of all the positive traits that this breed has.
If you're thinking about getting a Basenji, check out your local shelter or find a responsible breeder. There's a good chance that you'll find the perfect dog for your home and family.
Finally, please be aware that Basenjis are not excellent with small children, but they're perfect companions due to their high energy with older kids.