|African Bush Dog
African Barkless Dog
|Country of origin
Democratic Republic of the Congo
|Classification and breed standards
||Group 5 Section 6 #43
||Group 4 (Hounds)
||Group 2 - Hounds
||Sighthounds and Pariah Dogs
|Not recognized by any major kennel club
|This breed of dog is
The Basenji is a
of dog and a member
sighthound family. The basenji is a Congolese hunting dog that rarely, (if
ever) barks, but does have an odd yodelling sound.
Basenjis are small, elegant-looking, short-haired dogs with erect ears,
tightly curled tail, and graceful neck. Some people equate their appearance to
that of a miniature
deer. Their forehead is wrinkled, especially when young. Eyes are typically
almond shaped, which gives the appearance of squinting with a serious look.
Basenjis typically weigh around 20 to 24 pounds (9 to 11 kg) and stand about
17 inches (43 cm) tall at the
are an athletic dog, and are deceptively powerful for their size. They have a
graceful, confident gait like a trotting horse, and skim the ground in a
"double-suspension gallop" when running flat out at their considerable top
AKC recognizes the following colorations: red/white, black/white, tricolor
(red/black/white), and brindle (black stripes on a background of red)/white.
There are additional variations, such as the "trindle", which is a tricolor and
brindle, and several other colorations that remain in the
Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Like wild canids,
Basenjis don't bark. They will, however, give the occasional single "woof". They
will also chortle, whine, squeal, and make a Basenji-specific noise called a
yodel or a baroo. Also like wild canids, most Basenjis come into season only
once a year, usually in the autumn.
Most Basenjis have a strong dislike for contact with water, and will go to
great, and sometimes amusing, lengths to avoid getting wet. On the other hand,
they are extremely inquisitive dogs, and can temporarily be completely oblivious
to the pouring rain if something piques their interest.
They are highly intelligent and learn quickly, but they also have a cat-like
independence and "self-motivation" which can make them somewhat casual about
obedience. A healthy Basenji is a mischievous and good-humored animal, and is
not above testing the limits of its environment and owner just for sport. They
can be aloof with strangers but form strong bonds with their owners. If not
supervised or trained properly, Basenjis can become bored and destructive when
left alone. Basenjis are also expert climbers, and have been known to scale
chain-link fences as much as eight feet high.
Extremely quick and fast on their feet, Basenjis love to run and chase, so
much so that they are sometimes competitively raced in lure courses. There are
few creatures the Basenji is likely to encounter (including its owner!) that it
does not believe it can either outwit or outrun. This, combined with a virtually
fearless approach to the world, make it a good idea not to allow a Basenji to
run free in an unconfined area or where it may get into trouble. Basenjis can be
very good with children if raised around them, but may not have much patience
for them otherwise.
The Basenji is one of the most
ancient dog breeds. Originating on the continent of
Africa, it has
been venerated by humans for thousands of years. Basenjis can be seen on steles
in the tombs of
pharaohs, sitting at the feet of their masters, looking just as they do
today, with prick ears and tightly curled tail.
The Basenji had all but disappeared from civilization when it was
rediscovered in the
Congo region of Africa in
1895. There, the
Basenji was highly prized by natives for its intelligence, courage, speed, and
silence. They were invaluable assistants to the hunt, chasing wild game into
nets for their masters. The
tribes from the northeastern Congo region describe Basenjis, in the trade
Lingala, as "embwa na bwasenji". Translated, this means "dogs from when we
were wild" or "dogs from long ago". Another local name is "M'bwa m'kube M'bwa
wamwitu", or "jumping up and down dog", a reference to their tendency to jump
straight up to spot their quarry.
Several attempts were made to bring the breed to
the earliest imports succumbed to disease. It was not until the 1930s that
foundation stock was successfully established in England, and thence to the
United States. So it is that nearly all the Basenjis in the western world
are descended from these original imports. The breed was officially accepted
into the AKC in 1943. For a fascinating account of the importation of the
Basenji from Africa, read The History of the Breed,
a letter to the AKC in support of opening the
to admit new African imports. The AKC stud book was reopened to several new
imports in 1990, at the request of the Basenji Club of America.
Some Basenjis are prone to an inheritable kidney disorder called
(basenji.org). A Basenji with Fanconi syndrome usually begins to diplay
symptoms after reaching the age of four. Owners can test for Fanconi syndrome by
checking for sugar in the urine.
Basenjis, along with certain other breeds of dog have been known to be
carriers of a simple recessive gene which, when homozygous for the defect,
genetic Hemolytic Anemia
(basenji.org). Most Basenjis today are descended from ancestors that have
been tested clear. When lineage from a fully tested line (set of ancestors)
cannot be completely verified, the dog should be tested before breeding. As this
is a non-invasive DNA test, a Basenji can be tested for HA at any time.
As with other breeds of dog, Basenjis sometimes suffer from
dysplasia, resulting in loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms.
Malabsorption, or immunoproliferative enteropathy, is an autoimmune
intestinal disease that leads to
diarrhea, and even death. Special diet can improve the quality of life for
The breed can also fall victim to
progressive retinal atrophy (a degeneration of the retina causing
blindness), and several less serious hereditary eye problems such as
(a hole in the eye structure), and persistent pupillary membrane (tiny threads
across the pupil).
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