37 Interesting Facts About Basenjis

Well-known as the ‘barkless’ dog from Africa, the Basenjis attract admirers because their wrinkled brow lends them a mischievous expression.


1. Are Not Quiet Dogs

As they have flat larynxes, these dogs cannot bark. However, that doesn’t mean that they are silent; their vocalisations range from cheerful yodels to hair-raising screams. They even growl, whimper, and whine, just like other dogs.

2. History Behind The Name


The breed got its name from one Mrs Burn in England around 1936. Until then, as they were first discovered in the Congo, they were known as the Congo (Africa) dog or Congo Terrier. Basenji means ‘dog of the bush’ in Africa.

3. Existing Since 4000BCE

4000 ce

Basenjis have been existing as far back as the ancient Egyptians; there is evidence of the dogs existing since 4000 BCE.

4. Have Perhaps Inspired An Egyptian God

egyptian God

The Egyptian God of mummification and the afterlife, Anubis, has a man’s body and a canine’s head. The God has distinctive pricked ears and slender snout of a Basenji.

5. Use Both Sight And Scent To Hunt


They use both sight and scent to hunt and originally, used to flush small-sized prey into the hunters’ nets to control rodent populations.

6. The Basenji Was A Royal Gift


In earlier days, the Basenji was a royal gift; they were presented to noblemen, queens, and kings as a way to show respect and admiration to leaders.

7. Depictions Found In Ancient Bas-reliefs


Depictions of Basenjis can be found in ancient bas-reliefs (a sculpture technique where figures are only barely more prominent than the rest of the flat background) and sculptures. The first illustration of the variety was found in tombs of the Great Pyramid of Khufu. Basenjis can also be found on walls, shields, and drawings. There are even some mummified Basenjis.

8. There’s a Bronze Statue Of a Basenji

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has a Babylonian bronze statue of a basenji and its owner.

9. Are Used To Lure Lions Out Of Their Dens

In Kenya, the variety is used to lure lions out of their dens; Masai hunters use around four of these dogs at one time to get the lions out in the open; once the big cat leaves the safety of its den, hunters form a circle around it.

10. Fear The Dark

These dogs feel nervous when going out into the night. They have inherited the fear of the dark and so show reluctance while going out into the darkness.

11. They Have No Body Odor

The breed does not have a body odor. That’s a great bonus for someone wanting to own one of these dogs.

12. Little Bush Thing(s)


Natives of the Ituri rainforests called these dogs Basenchi or ‘little bush thing.’

13. Were Brought To England In 1890s

These dogs were brought to England in the 1890s. But once, a distemper epidemic wiped out the majority of them. After a vaccine finally became available in the 1930s, they were brought back to the UK and the US.

14. Made Official In 1943

The American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1943 while the Basenji Club of America was formed in 1942.

15. Are Small Hounds

These canines are one of the smallest hounds; ranging from 16 to 17 inches in height and from 22 to 24 pounds (10 to 11 kgs) in weight.

16. Their Large Ears Dissipate Heat


Their large ears help in dissipating heat. When alert, their ears get erect and their foreheads develop tight wrinkles.

17. Have a Square Outline

The breed’s high head carriage, long legs, short back, and tightly curled tail contribute to its square outline. The long legs also contribute to the dog’s speed and agility.

18. Short and Smooth Coat


Their coat is evenly short and smooth; colors can be red, black, brindle, or black and tan, all with white markings. Also, they usually have white feet and legs.

19. Aloof and Independent Dogs


These dogs are aloof and independent. They usually only bond with one or two humans and prefer to do things by themselves. As a result, training them requires a great amount of patience.

20. Chewers and Diggers


If left to their own devices they can be chewers and diggers. They need to be handled in a creative, patient manner to bring out their best qualities.

21. Behave Well With Other Dogs

with other dog

As they essentially hunted in packs, they are usually well-behaved with other dogs. However, some of them can be argumentative with other Basenjis.

22. Are Sighthounds


Basenjis are sighthounds; when a motion catches their eyes, they chase whatever they find moving—cats, rabbits, even squirrels.

23. Gallop When Running


Like whippets and greyhounds, Basenjis use a double suspension gallop when they run. Most dogs generally have one foot touching the ground when they are running. But with galloping breeds like the Basenji, at two separate, all four paws are off the ground; this helps these dogs reach impressive speeds.

24. Quiet Hunters

Basenjis were bred to be quiet, independent hunters, often far away from their owners when hunting.

25. Have Cat-like Traits


Basenji breeders and owners often consider them as cat-like as they do a great deal of licking to groom themselves and remain quiet. They also like climbing up onto high places as if surveying their kingdoms. Moreover, they keep their coats and paws clean just like cats!

26. Extremely Easy To Groom

These dogs are extremely easy to groom and require a quick wipe with a cloth or brush, once or twice every week.

27. Enjoy a Daily Run

They are active dogs that need and enjoy a good romp or run daily.

28. Family Dogs

They make very nice family dogs and live up to 13 years or so.

29. Don’t Like Toddlers

Basenjis aren’t known for being especially fond of toddlers. But with their high energy level, they turn out to be good companions for older children.

30. Their Daily Nutrition


The recommended daily amount of feeding; 3/4 to 1 cup of high-quality dry food every day, divided into two meals.

31. Prone To Health Conditions


Though generally healthy, they have some health conditions including Fanconi syndrome (an immunoproliferative small intestinal disease), hemolytic anemia, autoimmune thyroiditis, luxating patellas, certain eye diseases including persistent pupillary membrane, progressive retinal atrophy, and corneal dystrophy, heart murmurs, and umbilical and inguinal hernias.

32. Females Have Only One Heat Period

An unusual trait in Basenjis is that the females tend to only have one heat period per year, occurring between August and November.

33. Have a Strong Prey Drive

This variety has a strong prey drive and cannot be trusted when off the leash, unless when roaming in a well-fenced area.

34. Are Escape Artists


They are escape artists; they are prone to using a chain-link fence as a ladder, jumping up and climbing over a wood fence.

35. Require Attention

They cannot be just left out in a yard with food and water and require a great deal of time and attention.

36. Not Recommended For Homes With Small Pets

They can do well if raised with cats but are not recommended for homes with hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, birds, guinea pigs, or ferrets.

37. Have a Stubborn Personality

Basenjis are stubborn and the owner could end up with a confused and aggressive Basenji if he/she tries to overcome the dog’s stubbornness with force.

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