Does a "barkless" dog sound appealing to you? Do you have the energy to keep up with this very intelligent breed? The Basenji may be just what you are looking for!
The Basenji is a often referred to as the African Barkless Dog, or the Congo Dog from Central Africa (Congo region). As a hunting dog (specifically a sighthound), the Basenji is a close relative to pariah dogs, and was depicted in drawings in Egypt dating over 5,000 years ago. It is believed that the Basenji were gifts to the Egyptian Pharaohs, brought to them by natives of Central Africa. Their is an argument as to where the Basenji originally came from, some speculate Asia or Eastern China and are decendents of native wolves in those regions.
The Basenji was first discovered by westerners in the 1900's and made its way to England in the 1930's.
A Barkless Dog, Seriously?!
Yes, the Basenji is one of few dogs that yodel versus barking. Their larynx is specifically shaped to produce a yodel, however, they can also howl and growl. The Basenji is a quiet dog, so even though it yodels, it is not often.
Their yodel is often described as a child-like scream or shrieking.
A Very Clever Dog with Catlike Qualities
The Basenji is extremely smart; however, they are on a list as the second least trainable dog in a book by Stanley Coren, The Intelligence of Dogs. They are a very independent thinker, and prefer to do things on their own terms. If the Basenji isn't properly stimulated mentally, they can become bored very quickly and find ways to entertain themselves. Early training and agility competitions will help channel the Basenji intelligence in a positive way.
Their love of climbing, hate of water, and cleanliness have given them a reputation of having catlike traits. A chain link fence won't prevent a Basenji from escaping the backyard to explore, as they can scale it with ease just like a cat.
They typically dislike water very much and prefer not to go outside when it is wet, or raining. Don't even think about taking them to a lake to splash and play in the water with your best friend's Lab! The Basenji will stand there and look at you with disgust as if to say "You have got to be kidding me!"
A Busy-Body That Needs Daily Exercise
The Basenji is a very active dog. So if curling up on a couch with a good book, and your dog next to you is your idea of a perfect afternoon, the Basenji isn't your breed. This breed will require daily exercise; preferably a pet-parent that enjoys running would be the ideal match for this breed. They are often described as "tireless," and are known to find ways to convince, and demand their pet-parent play with them all day long.
Doggy Daycare is the perfect place to bring your Basenji if you work all day. It offers an outlet to help them channel, and burn their high energy properly.
If walking is your preferred method of exercise, GREAT! But the Basenji will require a few walks a day, not just one, and at least a minimum of 45 minutes per walk.
Have A Cat, Rabbit, Hamster or Other Small Critters?
These small critters are not a good match with the Basenji. Their prey drive and hunting skills will put your other pets at risk.
Even early socialization as a puppy won't turn off their high instinctive prey drive. When a Basenji sees quick movement from a small animal, they immediately engage their hunt instinct and are unable to turn it off.
The Basenji LOVES to be around other Basenji! They enjoy the pack mentality, and playing with one another. They typically get along with other dogs their size, and bigger as well.
The Basenji is a Great Breed for the Right Pet-Parent
A majority of Basenji rescues have indicated that the breed is no longer wanted because of the previous pet-parent's inability to keep up with the high energy of the breed. Lack of physical and mental stimulation in turn has great implications on the dog's behavior in a very negative way.
Although they don't bark, the Basenji can become bossy, and aggressive. They can develop severe behavioral problems such as escaping, counter-surfing, jumping, and destructive chewing.
This breed needs a positive assertive, energetic pet-parent who is not afraid to make sure their Basenji has rules and will follow them.
Matched up with the right pet-parent, this breed can offer wonderful qualities to any dog lover!
The typical life span of the Basenji is 10-13 years.
As you begin looking for a Basenji, please check with rescue organizations first. Every year there are millions of dogs being euthanized - not because they are bad dogs, but because there is no home for them and insufficient resources to care for them at rescue agencies. By adopting a dog, you are truly saving a life!
At the very least, NEVER purchase any dog from a pet store. Unfortunately, those puppies almost always come from puppy mills. Instead, look for a reputable breeder to work with.
On a final note, it is important to spay and neuter your puppy by 6 months old to have a healthy and happy pet for many years to come!
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Original Dog Bible, 2nd Edition by Kristin Mehus-Roe