Origin and Brief History

The Basenji is one of the oldest dog breeds on the planet. The ancient Egyptian pharaohs used to breed dogs similar to Basenjis, carvings of which can be seen on some of the pharaohs’ tombs. The modern Basenji was bred from a line of dogs discovered in the Congo in the late 1800s. Basenjis were favored for their speed and intelligence and were used primarily to chase game animals and warn of predators. English breeders brought the Basenji to England in the 1930s after several failed attempts. The breed was then brought to the United States in the early 1940s and was recognized by the American Kennel Club in 1943.



Basenjis are very curious, playful, and intelligent dogs. They form strong emotional bounds with owners who display leadership from an early age. However, Basenjis are also extremely independent and can be slow to respond to commands if they are not in the mood. Basenjis can often surprise unaware owners with their cleverness and ability to escape if left unsupervised. They have bounds of energy, and can become destructive if they are not sufficiently exercised.  Basenjis can be wary of strangers and do not mix well with other house pets or children that do not know how to display proper dominance. They are fine with other dogs if properly socialized from a young age.



Basenjis have a short coat and shed very little, so a brushing every two week is all that is required to maintain the coat and avoid excess hair in the house.  Teeth should be brushed regularly to avoid tartar buildup and nails should also be clipped weekly. Basenjis do not require frequent baths.


Specification of Breed

The Basenji is a small but surprisingly athletic breed. Male Basenjis are usually 16 to 17 inches tall and weigh 22 to 26 pounds. Females are usually 15 to 16 inches tall and weigh 20 to 25 pounds. Their coats can be colored red, black, tricolor, or brindle. The average lifespan for the Basenji is 10 to 12 years.

Buyer Beware

While they can be very good companions, Basenjis are one of the hardest breeds to train due to their independent nature.  They need a fairly large living space and an owner that will exercise them very regularly in order to accommodate their seemingly endless energy and desire to play. Basenjis are susceptible to Fanconi syndrome, an inheritable disease which causes kidney failure. Symptoms don’t appear until adulthood, so owners need to test for the disease once a month after their Basenji turns 3 years old. They are also susceptible to eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy, which causes blindness.


 image courtesy of wikipedia.org


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