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Basenjis - The Silent Hunters of Africa

What are Basenjis and where do they come from? Is it the right breed for you? Your questions are answered below...


The Basenji came to the western world from Africa, mainly from the Congo and the Sudan but there are accounts of them in most of the other African areas, although nowadays there are very few pockets of pure bred dogs remaining. In Sierra Leone the Basenji is known as the talking dog because they yodel instead of barking. They are also known as the witches dog or familiars, the more powerful the witch doctor the more dogs he owns. Tanganyikan natives removed the tails from their dogs and used them to hunt apes, this made it harder for the ape to seize the dog and kill it. In Liberia, if the dog was not a good hunter he ended up as a tasty snack! The Basenji೥nse of sight and smell is amazing. It is marvellous to see one jump up and down in five foot high elephant grass, he almost seems to hover in the air at the top of his jump while he has a quick look round and scents the air: hence one of the African names, m硠m墥 m硠wamwitu - the jumping up and down dog.

When you own a Basenji you own a unique dog, one that is terrier-sized and comes in four colour variations - red and white; black and white; a combination of these colours, known as tricolour; and brindle and white. All have white feet, tail-tip and some white on the chest. They may also have a certain amount of white markings on the face and neck. The Basenji has alert pricked ears with the characteristic puzzled frown, and a tail which curls tightly over the hip. He does not bark but is very far from mute, making all the usual doggy noises plus his own very special yodel when he is excited or happy. He is cat-like in that he hates the wet and cold. If by chance he should get wet or muddy he will lick himself clean, as well as helping any other dog or human who is in the same state. He uses his front paws a great deal in play, and to rub his ears and face. He also has the cat habit of sitting in the best chairs or on a sunny windowsill watching the world go by. He is the ultimate in sun-worshippers, very seldom seeking a shady spot and always being found in the warmest place in the house. Basenji bitches normally come in to season only once a year, the majority of them in the Autumn. As a result, most of the fairly small number of puppies each year are born between November and January, and the likelihood is that you will have to wait a while for a puppy, especially if enquiring in the spring and summer months. 

Red/White Brindle/White



In his native habitat the Basenji is used as a hunting dog, rounding up the game and circling it, thus keeping it penned until the hunter arrives to dispatch it. Because of their silence when hunting the dogs are very often belled around the neck or loin. In England and America they have been used with some success as gundogs, pointing and flushing the game. As they are very fast and agile they can catch and kill hares with ease. With rolex uk patience they can be taught to retrieve. Some puppies do this naturally, others will have no idea what is required. The greatest problem in training them for the gun is to get them to hunt within range instead of disappearing to circle a wide radius in their natural style. They have a strong tendency to look up into the branches while hunting, perhaps from the prevalence of monkeys in their jungle home, and this makes them excellent bird dogs.

The history of the Basenji has been traced back to the Stone Age but they are more generally connected with Egypt and the Pharaohs who valued them very highly. In the Egyptian tomb engravings, dated before 3000 BC, this dog is shown as the house dog, sitting under the masterࣨair. One of them even Cartier replica watches has his name ᬭes�tioned Possibly the Pharaohs were responsible for giving this dog his taste for the good life: Cleopatra and Nefertiti may have used them as bedwarmers. Certainly the Basenji loves that job today, also resting on the best chairs in the warmest places, and in fact being treated like royalty!

The breed was first known in the modern world as the Congo Terrier. There is a picture of three dogs named ﳣӄibueᮤ ﷡鮠the Paris Zoological Gardens c.1880, with a description very similar to the present day standard. After many disappointments they were finally established in Britain in 1937 by Mrs. Burn of the Blean Basenjis. Now they are popular in most countries where pedigree dog shows are held.

The native background of this breed means that they are not everyone੤ea of the ideal breed. They are incurably inquisitive and everything out of the ordinary, or ordinary for that matter, must be inspected and assessed. They have a sublime disregard for traffic and their road sense is non-existent. They are not by nature instantly obedient and replica watches uk see no point in abandoning an interesting ploy the minute they are summoned, although it is only fair to mention that many have now been trained to the highest level of obedience work, mostly in America. If you want a dog that is servile and obeys your every command the Basenji is not for you. On the other hand, if you lean towards a proud, faithful, teasing, playful, talking dog that can outsmart you nine times out of ten you will never consider any other breed.

The Basenji is without doubt, a 寰le䯧, trained by thousands of years around native camp fires to be part of the family. He is miserable if confined to a kennel and will do his utmost to return to the bosom of his family, and his utmost can be very powerful indeed. For this reason it is a good idea to accustom the dog to his own crate or box while he is still a young puppy: in this way he gets used to the idea that the box is his own special place where he can keep his treasures and be safe from baby fingers or older children who want to play when he would much rather sleep. It is also much safer all round for the dog to travel in his crate when in a car.

Like all puppies, a Basenji needs to be taught acceptable behaviour from an early age. Be consistent from the start and do not allow the pup to do anything of which you would disapprove in an adult. A firm is usually sufficient. If he starts to ignore this take his muzzle firmly in your hand and shake it a little while repeating in a firm ⯷ly毩ce. This is the way his mother corrects him, and all small puppies respect this action. As soon as he stops doing whatever was displeasing, you reassure him, pet him and give him one of his toys to play with. The same routine may have to be repeated several times - you need LOTS of patience but consistency will win in the end! Wise and sensible early training will produce a dog that is a joy to own. Also he must be socialised at a very early age; noises to which we are well accustomed will be doubly suspicious events to one with his background. Motorbikes, traffic, looming lorries, crowds and strangers handling him can all present educational chances to the discerning owner, and must not only be used but sought after to familiarise your puppy to the strains of modern life. Start all this really EARLY, long before he is old enough to be immunised he can be carried outside to hear the traffic and given to other people to hold and pet. Lots of reassurance from you, if needed, will soon get him used to this treatment and it will pay off in later life, helping to make him a confident, well adjusted dog. Remember that the barking of other breeds can be a very frightening thing at first to the silent Basenji, and introduce him to this in the same way.

In most cases a Basenji is very easy to feed: they are four-legged hoovers and will devour a meal as though it is the only one they have seen for a week. The adult dog does not need much to keep him trim and neat. On no account succumb to pleading eyes and voice that insist the owner of same hasnਡd a square meal for years! There is nothing worse than a fat Basenji - and they do get plump very very quickly. Race memories of always being last in line for the tribal cooking pot means that your Basenji is a natural thief, so do not leave temptation in his way. Remember also his cat-like abilities and do not assume that the table will be high enough to thwart his desires. He will drink very little but that little is essential, so always have fresh water available. Your pup will need routine immunisations - consult your vet about this and also when to worm him. Your breeder will have given him his initial doses before you collect him.

A Basenji will enjoy as much exercise as you like to give him but will also be quite happy snoozing by the fire if the weather is inclement. On free exercise DO make sure that there are no sheep or other animals in the near vicinity on which your dog can use his hunting instincts. Once away hunting they are not easy to recall, and under current legislation the owner is responsible for any damage the dog may cause.