The homeland of the Basenji is African Congo where it has been bred for centuries as a hunting dog. It was also valued for its superb ratting skills and extremely affectionate yet unobtrusive nature. Intelligent and charismatic, this breed will make a great companion animal for an individual or a family who can meet its sizeable need for both physical and mental exercise.
The Basenji has the right to be proud of its ancient origin since its specimens were among first dogs ever domesticated by a man. No wonder that this dog retains lots of characteristics of its feral ancestors, wolves. For example, it’s prone to keep silent most of the time, even while hunting. Its metabolism functions quite differently from any other domesticated canines, and similarly to its wild progenitors a female Basenji can procreate only once a year (in contrast with females of other canine varieties who can whelp twice a year).
The breed could be predominantly found in the Congo region of West Africa. In this ground it was used to flush feathered quarry into nets, to transport ware, and to notify about the approach of dangerous beasts while on the trail. A talented hunting dog was prized more than a wife by some African folks, and not only for its hunting prowess but also for its inventiveness and quick wit. «Basenji» is translated from African as «Little Thing of the Bush».
A couple of Basenjis were initially brought to the Western world in 1895. They were shown at the Crufts dog exhibition as African Bush Dogs, but this pair perished with distemper soon after the event. Several decades later more breed members were imported to England, and also to the U.S. In 1936, Olivia Burn and her husband on their travel through Congo discovered several high-quality Basenjis. They took these dogs back to their native England and used them as the foundation stock of the today’s breed.
In 1941 female Basenji of African origin was brought to Boston (USA) and eventually was crossed to a male who had been brought earlier. The puppies that came into the world as the result of this breeding became the first Basenjis successfully raised in this country. Ultimately, dog fanciers from all American states expressed keen interest in this exotic breed. It received recognition of the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1943.
The Basenji reached the height of its fame in 2001 when it was appreciated as the Best in Show at the Crufts World Dog Show. Currently the breed enjoys fairly moderate popularity although it does have lots of loyal devotees all around the world.
It’s very interesting to live with resourceful and mischievous Basenji. This dog demonstrates its outmost loyalty to its masters in a subtle manner and loves being beside them rather than on top of them. It needs regular interaction with the members of its human pack otherwise it quickly gets bored and therefore ill-behaved and destructive. On the whole the breed members welcome any chance to spend time with familiar kids although early and all-around socialisation is still highly important for this dog.
The Basenji usually prefers to stand aloof when it meets an unfamiliar person. However unpredictable aggressiveness towards humans is rather untypical for this breed. Although it doesn’t bark at all it utters peculiar yodel-like sound to express its excitement and may even cry very piteously when feeling lonely. The breed also reproduces a unique bird-like noise when it calls for its pack. Well-developed senses make this dog a good watcher. Some of its specimens can be charged with guarding duties but in general this breed can’t be described as too protective or territorial.
Being a pack hunter the Basenji easily finds the understanding with other canines. Remember though that it can occasionally clash with strange dogs (especially of the same sex) so it should be always securely leashed in parks and other public places. The owners of cats and other small pets should refrain from acquiring this breed since some of this dogs are simply unable to tolerate other non-canine animals in the house. On the other hand the Basenji will be glad to share its life with one or few other dogs.
The most common problems for the breed include:
· Fanconi syndrome;
· eye problems;
· hemolytic anemia;
· umbilical hernia;
· canine hip dysplasia.
The Basenji is an unpretentious breed when it comes to its grooming. This neat dog often cleans itself in a cat-like way and lacks unpleasant doggy odour so it doesn’t need frequent bathing. Its coat sheds little to nothing and will look perfectly with weekly brushing with a grooming mitt or a glove.
The owner should clip the toe nails of his pet every month or two as well as clean its erect ears on a weekly basis. Clean the dog’s teeth daily or weekly in order to prevent the built-up of tartar and nasty bacteria.
The Basenji poses a considerable training challenge. This dog is both independent-minded and clever so it doesn’t tend to obey orders blindly and unthinkingly. Moreover it will listen only to those person whose authority it fully admits. Being a skilful problem solver it commonly enjoys any advanced form of obedience and agility training.
For the best result encourage interest of your pet with delicious treats and kind words. Moderately firm but by no means harsh training methods work optimally for this breed. Initiate training and socialisation as early as possible and you will bring up a well-mannered and docile dog.
The Basenji seems to consist of lean muscles so it’s rather unsurprising that it has a heightened need for physical activity. It should be provided with a daily opportunity to romp and run in a securely enclosed area.
The breed can be turned into a tirelesscompanion of a jogger or bicyclist but its favourite type of physical exercisestill remains hunting. The specimen of the Basenji that has to get by with ashort daily walk is highly predisposed to become very destructive andhyperactive indoors.