Straight Out of Africa: The Barkless Basenji!

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the basenji barkless dog playing in the fieldThe Basenji is known for being a barkless dog breed. But don’t be fooled, they’re not silent either. They have come a long way since they were first bred in the Congo, Africa. The Basenji dog breed is athletic, smart, intuitive, and equal parts stubborn. But once you get past their somewhat difficult temperament, you’ll have found a life-long friend.

What is the Basenji?

The Basenji breed has its roots in the African continent. They have come a long way from being hound dogs working with hunters, to being a family dog nowadays. They’re smart, oftentimes cunning, playful, and very independent.

This can sometimes be a problem for unprepared owners, but it doesn’t mean a Basenji puppy won’t make a good friend.

Their small muscular bodies, alertness, curled tail, and straight, pointy ears attract attention towards them. Their quizzical-looking face also takes people by surprise, giving off a vibe of being up to no good.

History of the Basenji Dog Breed

They’re one of the oldest domesticated dog breeds in history!

Some people even argue that they’re not fully domesticated. Basenjis are different from other dog breeds on a few aspects. What stands out the most is that they don’t bark. Another important distinction is that female Basenji dogs go through one cycle per year, and not two like other breeds.

Their metabolism also works closer to that of wild dogs than of domesticated dogs.

Basenji dogs were first found by westerners in the Congo region of Africa in the 19th century. These adult dogs were used by the natives, the Mangbetu people, to corner game during hunts.

Their chasing and hounding tendencies are so refined that they even compete in a sport called lure coursing. In it, they have to show their hunting ability on the field.

They also carried goods and warned their owners of any wild, dangerous animals coming their way. It’s no wonder they were so well-treated.

After all, they played a pretty important role. In fact, some tribes put these Congo dogs above women in how they treat them!

Since the 19th century, European settlers tried to bring the Basenji breed to Europe. But because of disease, they only succeeded in the 1930s. A decade later, the American Kennel Club (AKC) recognized the breed. A year before that, the Basenji Club of America was founded.

Nowadays, Basenjis are family dogs. They have left their hunting and hounding past behind and are now great companions. But expect to still have to fight against some of their hounding tendencies every once in a while!

Like many other breeds, Basenjis like to wander off on their own and pick up scent trails.

A Barkless Dog: We’re Not Kidding!

Some people might find it strange that Basenjis are unable to bark. They might bark once sporadically, but they always stop after that.

You can also find this characteristic in wolves!

Some people speculate that Basenjis don’t bark because their early owners didn’t want a vocal dog. It makes sense if you think about it. In the earlier stages of human life, it wasn’t good to have a dog that barks with you to scare off prey and to attract predators’ attention.

This isn’t to say that Basenjis will always be silent. Quite the contrary.

We all know that dogs howl, but no one does it better than the Basenji. They’re very vocal when they want to be heard. Their noise range goes from a wolf-like howl to hair-raising screams scary enough to take anyone by surprise.

This is something that makes them unique. They have earned the title of “only dog breed that doesn’t bark.”

Appearance and Personality

The Basenji dog breed is athletically built and on the smaller size. Because of its short back and long, muscly legs, it appears taller than long. Their shoulders are well-defined and moderately laid back.

Because of this, they look very lightly built and like they carry themselves with ease. Their tightly-curled tail and their almond-shaped eyes are the icing on the cake that wins Basenji owners over.

This dog’s coat is short and easily cleaned. In fact, they even groom themselves in a similar way cats do.

Their coat comes in a mixture of colors. It can be chestnut red, black, tricolor (a mixture of these two), or brindle (meaning they have black stripes displayed over a chestnut red background). The Basenji dog always has some white present, be it on the front legs, chest, or blaze.

However, there should never be more white than the other colors in a Basenji dog’s coat.

Dog breeders have to stick to these guidelines if they want their dog to be considered a Basenji.

Basenji dogs on the couch

Alert and Responsive: Temperament of the This Doggo

Being a hound, the Basenji is alert, attentive, independent, and intelligent. As soon as something interesting catches their eye, they run after it like there’s no tomorrow. The American Sighthound Field Association even puts on competitions every year in which Basenjis compete running after prey they’ve spotted.

Basenjis will usually learn orders fast. But for the frustration of many owners, they will only follow them if they so please.

Being this independent and aloof comes with a price. However, this doesn’t mean that they will never obey. They just need a patient and determined owner who will take their time with them.

They can be good family dogs and even better guard dogs. They’re very alert and pay attention to their surroundings. They will also try to protect their family at all costs. Basenjis can be very affectionate if you’re willing to look past their stubbornness and independence.

However, you should try to keep shoes and other things out of their sight. They’re avid chewers and will try to eat through anything.

5 Facts You Have to Know!!

Basenjis are fascinating dogs. Here are some curious facts you might not already know about the breed:

  1. Experts think they might have been gifted to the Pharaohs of Egypt.
  2. Masai hunters use Basenjis to lure lions out of their hiding places so they can hunt them.
  3. When they want to be vocal, it sounds like they’re yodeling.
  4. These dogs are some of the fastest on the planet. Good luck trying to catch up to one!
  5. Basenjis self-groom, cleaning their coat and paws.

2 Basenji Mix Pups You Will Love

Sometimes dog breeders mix this dog with others to get an adorable mix of personalities and looks.

Basenji Lab Mix

What happens if you mix an independent Basenji with a people-pleasing Labrador? You will get a mix of both personalities. You won’t have a completely aloof dog nor will you have a family-oriented dog like the Lab. Ask about each parent’s behavior and pedigree so you can predict their temperament more accurately.

Basenji Terrier Mix

This mix is known to get along relatively well with children and with other dogs. It’s not as aloof as a purebred Basenji, although you can’t determine a mixed pup’s temperament that well.

Basenji Puppies! Are They Easy to Train?

Basenji puppies are adorable, there’s no doubt about that. But when it comes to trainability, they definitely aren’t the easiest breed out there.

Although they’re very intelligent and quick to learn orders, their stubbornness gets in the way. They might know all the tricks and commands, but if they don’t feel like performing them, they won’t.

Basenji puppies need seasoned owners to teach them the basic commands any dog should know. If you’re thinking of getting a Basenji, you need to be a patient person.

You might spend hours trying to get your puppy to sit down. You could also enroll your pup on an obedience training school, but that won’t change how stubborn they are.

basenji rescue puppy sitting in grass

Are Basenji Dogs Healthy?

Like all dogs, Basenji dogs are more at risk of developing some conditions than others. It doesn’t mean your Basenji pup will get sick, but you need to be prepared for that possibility.

Hip dysplasia is common among Basenjis.

This condition happens when the thigh bone doesn’t fit snuggly into the hip joint socket. Hip dysplasia makes walking and standing difficult for these pups. It can be a quite painful condition, and the only way to solve it is through a surgery.

Fanconi syndrome is also something some Basenjis need to fight against. It’s a kidney disease in which sugars and proteins aren’t processed well by the body. Fanconi’s syndrome can be fatal, so you should be vigilant of your dog’s health.

Basenjis might also develop progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). This condition leads to the deterioration of the eye to the point where the dog might lose all of their eyesight.

Finally, Basenjis are also at a higher risk of developing hemolytic anemia than other dog breeds. This happens when an enzyme isn’t produced as much as it should be. Because of it, red blood cells aren’t healthy and die. Unfortunately, dogs with this type of anemia rarely live to be older than two years of age.

Ready to Get a Basenji Puppy?

If you’re ready to take the plunge and get a bark-free dog, you have two options. You can either buy one, or you can get a Basenji rescue dog.

If you want to buy one, always check if the breeder has a good reputation. If you’re adopting, you can go to shelters and ask if they have any Basenji puppy looking for a home.

Basenji Breeders in the USA

It’s important to choose a reliable breeder. Then, if they have Basenji puppies for sale, you can try and see which puppy will fit you and your family best.

The American Kennel Club has come up with a list of reputable breeders that have at least one basenji puppy for sale.

Basenji Price Tag

Since Basenjis aren’t the most common breed out there, you should get ready to splurge on a purebred. The average price is around $800 and the median price is $1,275.

5 Tips for First-Time Owners!

Welcoming a Basenji into your home might not be the easiest thing in the world. To help with that, we’ve come up with a list of top tips for first-time Basenji owners.

  1. These active dogs need a lot of exercises. You should walk them twice a day for an hour total. They’re very energetic and used to running around, so exercise is essential.
  2. You won’t need to do much grooming with this pup. A few brushing sessions and a bath here and there should be enough.
  3. If you’re not paying attention, your pup will run away at the first chance they get. They’re masters of escaping!
  4. You’ll need to be patient with your Basenji pup. They’re stubborn and won’t do everything you say, but you need to keep insisting.
  5. Always try to socialize your Basenji dog as much as possible. This way they won’t be aggressive, suspicious of strangers, or mean towards other dogs.

If you think you have what it takes to raise a Basenji, go for it. They are lovely and kind once you get past some of their flaws. Like any other puppy, they deserve to be loved and cherished. You’ll see they’ll be a good companion for you and your family.

Common Questions

Are Basenjis a domesticated dog?

Why don’t they Bark?

Are Basenjis friendly?

How do I train my pup?

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