Basenji: dog breed appearance, character, training, care, health


The Basenji dog breed is medium in size and is characterized by its intelligence and its elegant and balanced appearance. It has a loving, playful and curious character. At Petlifey, we explain everything about the Basenji breed.


Basenji character

The Basenji is a dog with a marked independent, curious and active character. It is a dog of temperament that is always alert, energetic and very affectionate . It loves to play and can be a good companion animal.

It is not aggressive with strangers, but it is reserved, a behaviour that can be reversed if the animal is subjected to adequate and intense socialization at an early age.

However, thanks to its peculiar personality, with its family It shows affection and becomes a good companion.

The basenji never barks, although it is not mute. It emits its own cry, whose peculiar modulations are very reminiscent of those of Tyrolean songs.

Very intelligent and independent animal, it is always affectionate and active. It is usually reserved with those people It does not know.

It is also extremely clean, to the point that it is very typical to see it involved in its hygienic routine, similar to that of a cat, so that it needs very little care in this regard.

Is it a suitable dog for children?

The basenji is a canine pet that loves to play with children and tolerates spending hours in the company of children and sharing adventures very well.

However, the smallest of the house must be adequately made aware of how they should treat and care for their dog. They should know that they must respect their pet as it is not a toy.

How does the Basenji behave with other animals?

With other animals, including dogs, It does not get along very well and may react by showing indifference or adopting a domineering behaviour, without shunning the fight if It deems it necessary.

You can live with other pets such as cats, birds or rabbits as long as you get used to living with them as a puppy. Otherwise coexistence can be somewhat problematic on some occasions.

Can you have a Basenji in an apartment?

It is a dog that adapts quite well to urban life and does not have problems living indoors, but it needs to exercise daily and to be provided with enough activities to occupy its always restless mind.

For example, It has a habit of always biting something, so it is convenient to provide him with toys and objects to prevent him from nibbling what It should not.

He does not like very humid climates and prefers the heat to the cold, which is why life inside the houses seems wonderful to him.

In coexistence it does not usually give problems to its owners because it does not bark, due to its disability, so it is not a cause of confrontation with the neighbors.


Basenji behaviour

  • Energy: Medium / High. As a primitive dog, it needs to be able to exercise in freedom.
  • Temperament: It is an intelligent, independent, alert and very self-confident dog, but balanced and affectionate.
  • Adaptability: Medium / High. It adapts well to any type of environment, but it does not tolerate very humid and cold climates well.
  • Sociability: It is affectionate and sociable with its family, but is very suspicious of strangers and other animals.
  • Health: It is a healthy animal, but it may suffer from an eye, kidney, etc. condition.
  • Longevity: Medium / High. Live 10-15 years.
  • Utility: Versatile. It is an excellent watchdog, hunting and companion dog
  • Use: Hunting, guard and company.

Basenji Characteristics

Regarding its general appearance, the Basenji is a medium-sized dog. It weighs between 10 and 11 kilograms and measures between 40 and 43 centimeters in height at the withers.

Its constitution is light, it has thin bones and very long legs compared to the body. Its well-proportioned profile and aristocratic appearance also stand out.

Let’s look at the main physical characteristics of the basenji :

Basenji physical characteristics

Speaking exclusively of its body, it is a dog with an arched profile and a curled tail giving it the appearance of a harmonious and graceful dog.

The head is not too wide, with well modeled bones. When the dog stands up its ears, fine wrinkles form on the forehead and on the sides.

Their eyes are almond- shaped, oblique, and dark in color, and they are set frontally and far apart. Its gaze is distant and its expression happy, but serene.

The ears are fine in texture, set quite far forward, with the tips facing slightly inward and closer to each other than the base of the ears.

As for its feet, this pet has what is called “climbing shoes“. That is, narrow and compact, with long, arched fingers. The nails are short, thick and dark in color, and the foot pads are thick and resistant.

The tail is set high above the rump line, short and covered with fine, open hair. The dog carries it on its back, with the tip curled over the back.

Its hair is short, thick, very fine and shiny. It can appear in a very varied color distribution: solid, striped with black stripes on a red background, or mottled with white.

Let’s now see what the basenji and the breed standard look like:

Basenji breed standard

  • General appearance: it is a light-looking dog, with fine bones and aristocratic bearing, very balanced, alert and intelligent.
  • Size: medium.
  • Height at the withers: 43 cm for males and 40 cm for females.
  • Weight: 11 kg for males and 10 kg for females.
  • Origin: Central Africa / United Kingdom Patronage.
  • Body: it is robust and strong.
  • Head: large, of medium width, with poorly defined naso-frontal depression and a visible frontal furrow. When the dog stands its ears up, fine but abundant wrinkles form on its forehead.
  • Skull: flat, well modeled, of medium width. It gets thinner the closer it gets to the nose. The lateral lines gradually taper towards the muzzle.
  • Muzzle: fine and compact, framed by prominent cheeks.
  • Nose: it is black.
  • Eyes: set a little obliquely, they are almond shaped, dark colors predominate.
  • Ears: they are small and pointed, with a slight hood shape.
  • Nose-frontal depression (stop): it is little marked.
  • Jaws: the jaws are strong and have healthy teeth, with a regular and complete scissor bite.
  • Neck: strong and of balanced length, thin, well crowned and slightly full in the throat area, which accentuates the curve of its profile.
  • Chest: Well sprung, deep and oval ribs.
  • Back: short and level.
  • Forelimbs: good aplombs, have thin bones and to are perpendicular to the ground. The shoulders are well tilted back; They are muscular, but not loaded. The forearms are very long and the elbows are close to the chest and, viewed from the front, are aligned with the ribs.
  • Hind limbs: strong and muscular. The legs are long. The curved rear edge of the thigh extends beyond the base of the tail, further enhancing the appearance of length on the hind legs. Its knees are moderately angled. The hocks are set low, facing neither in nor out.
  • Feet: they are small, narrow and compact. They have well arched toes, thick pads, and short nails.
  • Tail: it is short and covered with fine, soft and open hair, and curls over the back, with the tip resting on the back.
  • Color:  presents a great diversity of colors. Pure black and white; Red and white; black and tan; white with tan spots over eyes, on muzzle and cheeks; black; tawny and white; tabby, with black stripes on a red background. The white color occurs on the feet, chest, tip of the tail, limbs, face, and collar.
  • Hair: the entire body appears covered with a layer of short, dense, fine, shiny and tight hair. It can have multiple colorations: black, black and white, brindle and white, fawn, red and white.
  • Movement: the movement of the limbs is straight and forward, with a fast, long, agile step and with a lot of resistance.
  • FCI Classification: FCI No. 43. Group 5 – Spitz and primitive type dogs. Section 6 – Primitive type.

Basenji Cubs

If you are looking for information on the basenji, it may be because you want to buy a puppy, or better yet, the adoption of a puppy of this breed from a pet shelter or shelter.

If this is the case, there are certain aspects that are very important and that you have to keep in mind before taking the big step. This way you will also know if it is the most suitable breed of dog for you and your family.

The first thing you should do when choosing a Basenji puppy and that is especially important, is to always go to professional Basenji breeders. Make sure that they submit their dogs tests and tests in order to eradicate possible diseases or hereditary diseases.

You should also know that Basenji puppies need to receive firm training and intense socialization so as not to become suspicious and sullen adults. You can get more information below, in the education and training section.

The specimens of this breed are used to living in a group , since for many years they have formed herds that lived almost wildly around human settlements. For this reason It likes to be surrounded by its “human pack” at all times and does not tolerate being alone for long.

The Basenji likes to always be busy with some activity. It also loves to constantly bite an object: a stick, a doll, a bone … it is recommended that its owner provide it to them, otherwise It can take the first thing It finds.


Basenji education and training

The Basenji is not a suitable dog for any type of owner. Accustomed as you are to living independently and fending for yourself, chances are you want to do things your way.

Therefore, their training must be carried out by a person with some experience in dog ownership and who knows well the basic mechanisms of canine behaviour.

If this is done, the basenji responds quite well to the education or teaching process, as its desires to please its owners are very great. In the following video you can see some tricks:

It is essential, for their education and training to be correct, not to use brusqueness, as it can become a stubborn animal. The ideal thing is to use positive reinforcement : That is, rewarding him when It does it well instead of punishing when It does it badly.

In the same way, in order for it to be a balanced dog , it is very important that it be able to exercise every day. Not only is it enough to take it out for a walk on a leash. You must be able to run free to expend your high energy.


Basenji diet

Like the rest of dog breeds, obesity is a problem that can affect the Basenji. To avoid being overweight, it is essential to take care of the quality and quantity of your food .

This dog must exercise daily, avoid a sedentary lifestyle, and control its weight and the quality of its diet . It is the only way to guarantee a correct skeletal and muscular development .

The diet of the basenji must contain an adequate amount of protein of the highest quality as well as healthy fats (Omega 3 and Omega 6). In this way you can have a healthy and balanced animal.

Luckily, the large manufacturers of dog food offer us kibble or dog food specially designed for this type of canine pet.

They can be purchased at specialized pet or animal stores. You can also buy dog ​​food from your home online.


Basenji health and diseases

Nor does it require remarkable health care, given that it is a fairly healthy animal with a remarkable longevity, well above the average.

The basenji can live between 10 and 15 years. Even so, the typical diseases of the Basenji breed are:

  1. The Fanconi syndrome (a kidney disease that can be very serious and should be treated before the appearance of the first symptom).
  2. The progressive retinal atrophy.
  3. Certain eye diseases of varying magnitude.
  4. Some intestinal problems.

The basenji’s skin is somewhat delicate and, if the animal lives in an area with a humid or very cold climate, it is possible that it suffers from a dermatological problem of different considerations, for example wet eczema.

In these cases, extreme precautions must be taken and the animal does not lick the eczema excessively, since obsessed with its own cleaning it can end up causing lacerations or serious injuries.

As with all breeds, the best way to take care of the health of this dog is to design, together with your veterinarian, general preventive health programs that include routine vaccinations , deworming and general controls of weight , growth, mouth, hair, ears, etc. etc.


Specific care of the Basenji breed

The aesthetic care of the basenji is not a concern either, as it is a pet that requires very little maintenance to keep it in perfect hygienic conditions.

As for how often the Basenji dog has to be brushed, brushing once a week is enough, since its short hair is very grateful and it stays clean for a long time.

Regarding how often a basenji should be bathed. It will only be necessary to bathe themwhen the dog is really dirty. As a general rule, an occasional bath every 4 or 5 months is sufficient.

Attention should also be paid to cleaning your ears. Similarly, nails should also be trimmed if they grow too long.


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