Breed Standard

History

One of the original primitive breeds, the Basenji goes back over 6,000 years. Engravings dated pre 3000 BC depict the Basenji as house dogs among the Pharaohs of Egypt, who appeared to value them highly. Todays Basenji comes from Africa, mainly around the Congo and the Sudan, although they have also been found in other areas. Used by the natives as hunting dogs, the Basenji works independently, circling and rounding up game, and keeping it penned for the hunter to arrive and despatch. As a hunting dog they are fast and extremely agile, with extremely strong senses of sight and smell.

Description

Ideal height: dogs: 43 cms (17 ins) at withers; bitches: 40 cms (16 ins)
Ideal weight: dogs: 11 kgs (24 lbs); bitches: 91/2 kgs (21 lbs)

A lightly built, finely boned aristocratic-looking dog, presenting a picture of a well balanced dog of gazelle-like grace. The Basenji is always poised and alert , and has been described as a "small, deer-like animal". The head is well chiselled and of medium width with a slight stop. Distance from top of head to stop being slightly more than from stop to tip of nose. The ears are small, pointed, erect and slightly hooded, carried proudly on a well arched neck. When the ears are pricked, the forehead has fine and profuse wrinkles. Side wrinkles are desirable but should not be exaggerated. A strong neck of good length, being well crested and slightly full at base of the throat has a graceful curve accentuating the crest and is well set into the shoulders, giving the head a 'lofty' carriage. They have a short, level back and short-coupled loins andd are high on the leg compared with its length. Their deep brisket runs into a definite waist. Small narrow and compact feet with well arched toes and short nails. The tail is set high with a posterior curve of buttock extending beyond the root of the tail and giving a reachy appearance to the hindquarters. It is tightly curled over the spine and lies closely to the thigh with a single or double curl. They move carrying their legs straight forward with a swift, long, tireless swinging stride. Their coat is fine, short, sleek and close. Colours can be pure black and white; red and white; black, tan and white with tan melon pips and mask; tan and white. Brindle, red background with black stripes, the more clearly defined the stripes the better. The white should be on feet, chest and tail tips. White legs, blaze and white collar optional.

Character/Temperament

Well known for being barkless, but they are not mute, having their own special noise which is a mixture of a chortle and a yodel. They are remarkably clean dogs. Intelligent, independent but affectionate and alert, they can be aloof with strangers. If you are looking for fawning affection then read no further, a Basenji is not for you. They will love you, but on their terms not yours, with an aloofness which has its own peculiar charm. They are lap-dogs, provided that very early socialising has taken place, who can out-run a surprising number of other breeds including all but racing-trained Whippets, and can climb chain link fencing quite easily if they so wish. For sheer variety, Basenjis are wonderful! Basenjis love furniture - thinking chairs, beds, sofas and the hearth are for their own especial use rather than for mere people. Unfortunately, they do (as any puppy) like to chew and this can be rather harmful unless controlled from the start. If boredom sets in, what is nicer than a new cushion or an arm-chair!

Our Basenjis are fed from an early age in a crate which gives it pleasant associations. They always travel in them and if left alone (for human shopping expeditions, for example) it is sensible to put the Basenji into a crate with a chew-stick or bone. A cheap, easy toy for puppies is the inside of a kitchen-paper or toilet roll - it saves boredom, is chewable and certainly disposable! It will sleep quite happily until the owner returns. Otherwise destruction of the home can result and thereby unhappiness for owner and dog. Basenjis need and like plenty of TLC. Love them... they really thrive on it! Even though they may be the ones to choose the time of the cuddles and the attention you are permitted to lavish upon them, their affection is very rewarding. Many have a tendency to jump on your lap entirely at their own convenience, disrupting reading or knitting and rearranging us for their comfort. They will stretch their neck, indicate which ear should be scratched, when to stop and paw your hand saying "no, don't stop!" should you cease attending to them. Eventually they will sleep, and as suddenly as they came, disappear to the kitchen and solitude. Like children they need to know they are loved. Basenjis are wonderful with children, and will willingly play and be very protective of 'their' children. However, when they decide that play-time is over then it is over, and no amount of cajoling will prolong the fun. The Basenji may growl a tiny warning, and the children MUST realise that when a Basenji says 'no more' it means 'no more'.

Health

Fanconi syndrome, which is a fatal and incurable late onset kidney disease, is widespread in the Basenji. However, there is now a DNA marker test for this disease breeders, and puppy buyers, should ensure that at least one of the parents has been tested clear.

Basenji pups can very often have an umbilical hernia which may not become obvious until the pup is 3 or 4 weeks old. Gentle and frequent easing back of the fatty lump until the muscles tighten and it eventually no longer appears is very often entirely successful. It doesn't hurt the dog and is not to its detriment. If working the lump back should fail, and if the owner wishes, a Vet can surgically correct the hernia at about 5 months of age, although the Vet may be obliged to inform the Kennel Club. Please remember that Basenjis groom themselves like cats and that ANY preparation used on them should be suitable for Puppies and Cats. Some Vets are not aware of this and need to be reminded whenever ANY sort of treatment may be necessary so as to be sure not to harm the dog by accident.

Breed Care

Basenji clean themselves in a cat-like way and several dogs coming home wet and muddy will 'group groom' each other until all are dry and clean. There is little, if any, of the wet dog-smell of other breeds. Grooming normally requires only brushing and nail trimming. Nail trimming should be done weekly at least in order to keep the feet neat and small with arched toes. This should be done even if the dog is not being shown. Long nails can ultimately affect the pasterns which is bad for the animal. Front nails need trimming more often than those on the back feet. A brush or 'hound glove' and nail cutters are really all that are needed. If you show your Basenji you will develop techniques and find items you prefer. What you are looking for is a sleek, short coat that shines and toe-nails that are short, allowing the neat, tight feet to have the toes arched. Brushing daily helps and nail trimming, as needed, is about all save for a VERY rare bath, after a bitch has finished her season for example, although not even always then. Since Basenjis do not usually like water (try taking one out in the rain and see what we mean!) this can be quite an experience. A couple of inches of warm water in a bathtub is enough, shampoo and thoroughly rinse out all soap. Dry and leave alone. Because Basenjis lick themselves, do not use any preparations that can cause harm if swallowed. We prefer to use only items that are marked "safe for Cats and/or Puppies."

Exercise

Adult dogs should have at least half an hour daily exercise which is completely free of leads or restraint. Please remember, though, that the Basenji is a hunting dog and must be kept under control when near sheep or other animals. Once they start hunting a Basenji is never easy to recall. However, NEVER punish a dog for responding to your call and returning to you, even from some mischief. It will think the act of returning to Master merits the punishment and this is not something you ever want to encourage. They are not the best dogs to train to return to a whistle, though ours will, in their own good time. Basenjis have NO TRAFFIC SENSE. They should never be allowed off the lead near roads and are not ideal 'town-dogs' for this reason. Basenjis are pack hunters and require a fair amount of exercise. A bored Basenji will be a destructive Basenji. But if they are given the correct training and lots to keep them occupied they will not become destructive. However, left alone with nothing to do the Basenji will surely find something. A home with a dog-proof garden and access to woods and walks are essential.

Training

Basenjis are not a particular obedient dog, being often distracted by something far more interesting! It is very important to run the household so that you, not one of the Basenjis, is the Alpha or pack leader. Because they are very intelligent as a breed, they will 'try it on' to see how far they can push you and get away with it. If you let them, the next time they will try to proceed even further along whatever line of mischief they have chosen. They can, and must, be trained like children - punished immediately when they do something wrong. We smack them on the hip, or a light tap on the muzzle can be effective. It does absolutely NO GOOD to punish them some time after the misdeed as they cannot associate the punishment with its earlier cause. Punish immediately or not at all. The Basenji is basically a very clean dog and (normally) rather easy to house-train. Running back and forth along one wall, pawing at the door, etc., are signs that it wants to go out. A puppy will often have been at least partially house-trained before it leaves the nest.

See our books on training" />
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Basenji

 Photo of Basenji
Photo: courtesy of Sally Wallis

Basenji Books

Group: Hound || Breed Standard

History

One of the original primitive breeds, the Basenji goes back over 6,000 years. Engravings dated pre 3000 BC depict the Basenji as house dogs among the Pharaohs of Egypt, who appeared to value them highly. Todays Basenji comes from Africa, mainly around the Congo and the Sudan, although they have also been found in other areas. Used by the natives as hunting dogs, the Basenji works independently, circling and rounding up game, and keeping it penned for the hunter to arrive and despatch. As a hunting dog they are fast and extremely agile, with extremely strong senses of sight and smell.

Description

Ideal height: dogs: 43 cms (17 ins) at withers; bitches: 40 cms (16 ins)
Ideal weight: dogs: 11 kgs (24 lbs); bitches: 91/2 kgs (21 lbs)

A lightly built, finely boned aristocratic-looking dog, presenting a picture of a well balanced dog of gazelle-like grace. The Basenji is always poised and alert , and has been described as a "small, deer-like animal". The head is well chiselled and of medium width with a slight stop. Distance from top of head to stop being slightly more than from stop to tip of nose. The ears are small, pointed, erect and slightly hooded, carried proudly on a well arched neck. When the ears are pricked, the forehead has fine and profuse wrinkles. Side wrinkles are desirable but should not be exaggerated. A strong neck of good length, being well crested and slightly full at base of the throat has a graceful curve accentuating the crest and is well set into the shoulders, giving the head a 'lofty' carriage. They have a short, level back and short-coupled loins andd are high on the leg compared with its length. Their deep brisket runs into a definite waist. Small narrow and compact feet with well arched toes and short nails. The tail is set high with a posterior curve of buttock extending beyond the root of the tail and giving a reachy appearance to the hindquarters. It is tightly curled over the spine and lies closely to the thigh with a single or double curl. They move carrying their legs straight forward with a swift, long, tireless swinging stride. Their coat is fine, short, sleek and close. Colours can be pure black and white; red and white; black, tan and white with tan melon pips and mask; tan and white. Brindle, red background with black stripes, the more clearly defined the stripes the better. The white should be on feet, chest and tail tips. White legs, blaze and white collar optional.

Character/Temperament

Well known for being barkless, but they are not mute, having their own special noise which is a mixture of a chortle and a yodel. They are remarkably clean dogs. Intelligent, independent but affectionate and alert, they can be aloof with strangers. If you are looking for fawning affection then read no further, a Basenji is not for you. They will love you, but on their terms not yours, with an aloofness which has its own peculiar charm. They are lap-dogs, provided that very early socialising has taken place, who can out-run a surprising number of other breeds including all but racing-trained Whippets, and can climb chain link fencing quite easily if they so wish. For sheer variety, Basenjis are wonderful! Basenjis love furniture - thinking chairs, beds, sofas and the hearth are for their own especial use rather than for mere people. Unfortunately, they do (as any puppy) like to chew and this can be rather harmful unless controlled from the start. If boredom sets in, what is nicer than a new cushion or an arm-chair!

Our Basenjis are fed from an early age in a crate which gives it pleasant associations. They always travel in them and if left alone (for human shopping expeditions, for example) it is sensible to put the Basenji into a crate with a chew-stick or bone. A cheap, easy toy for puppies is the inside of a kitchen-paper or toilet roll - it saves boredom, is chewable and certainly disposable! It will sleep quite happily until the owner returns. Otherwise destruction of the home can result and thereby unhappiness for owner and dog. Basenjis need and like plenty of TLC. Love them... they really thrive on it! Even though they may be the ones to choose the time of the cuddles and the attention you are permitted to lavish upon them, their affection is very rewarding. Many have a tendency to jump on your lap entirely at their own convenience, disrupting reading or knitting and rearranging us for their comfort. They will stretch their neck, indicate which ear should be scratched, when to stop and paw your hand saying "no, don't stop!" should you cease attending to them. Eventually they will sleep, and as suddenly as they came, disappear to the kitchen and solitude. Like children they need to know they are loved. Basenjis are wonderful with children, and will willingly play and be very protective of 'their' children. However, when they decide that play-time is over then it is over, and no amount of cajoling will prolong the fun. The Basenji may growl a tiny warning, and the children MUST realise that when a Basenji says 'no more' it means 'no more'.

Health

Fanconi syndrome, which is a fatal and incurable late onset kidney disease, is widespread in the Basenji. However, there is now a DNA marker test for this disease breeders, and puppy buyers, should ensure that at least one of the parents has been tested clear.

Basenji pups can very often have an umbilical hernia which may not become obvious until the pup is 3 or 4 weeks old. Gentle and frequent easing back of the fatty lump until the muscles tighten and it eventually no longer appears is very often entirely successful. It doesn't hurt the dog and is not to its detriment. If working the lump back should fail, and if the owner wishes, a Vet can surgically correct the hernia at about 5 months of age, although the Vet may be obliged to inform the Kennel Club. Please remember that Basenjis groom themselves like cats and that ANY preparation used on them should be suitable for Puppies and Cats. Some Vets are not aware of this and need to be reminded whenever ANY sort of treatment may be necessary so as to be sure not to harm the dog by accident.

Breed Care

Basenji clean themselves in a cat-like way and several dogs coming home wet and muddy will 'group groom' each other until all are dry and clean. There is little, if any, of the wet dog-smell of other breeds. Grooming normally requires only brushing and nail trimming. Nail trimming should be done weekly at least in order to keep the feet neat and small with arched toes. This should be done even if the dog is not being shown. Long nails can ultimately affect the pasterns which is bad for the animal. Front nails need trimming more often than those on the back feet. A brush or 'hound glove' and nail cutters are really all that are needed. If you show your Basenji you will develop techniques and find items you prefer. What you are looking for is a sleek, short coat that shines and toe-nails that are short, allowing the neat, tight feet to have the toes arched. Brushing daily helps and nail trimming, as needed, is about all save for a VERY rare bath, after a bitch has finished her season for example, although not even always then. Since Basenjis do not usually like water (try taking one out in the rain and see what we mean!) this can be quite an experience. A couple of inches of warm water in a bathtub is enough, shampoo and thoroughly rinse out all soap. Dry and leave alone. Because Basenjis lick themselves, do not use any preparations that can cause harm if swallowed. We prefer to use only items that are marked "safe for Cats and/or Puppies."

Exercise

Adult dogs should have at least half an hour daily exercise which is completely free of leads or restraint. Please remember, though, that the Basenji is a hunting dog and must be kept under control when near sheep or other animals. Once they start hunting a Basenji is never easy to recall. However, NEVER punish a dog for responding to your call and returning to you, even from some mischief. It will think the act of returning to Master merits the punishment and this is not something you ever want to encourage. They are not the best dogs to train to return to a whistle, though ours will, in their own good time. Basenjis have NO TRAFFIC SENSE. They should never be allowed off the lead near roads and are not ideal 'town-dogs' for this reason. Basenjis are pack hunters and require a fair amount of exercise. A bored Basenji will be a destructive Basenji. But if they are given the correct training and lots to keep them occupied they will not become destructive. However, left alone with nothing to do the Basenji will surely find something. A home with a dog-proof garden and access to woods and walks are essential.

Training

Basenjis are not a particular obedient dog, being often distracted by something far more interesting! It is very important to run the household so that you, not one of the Basenjis, is the Alpha or pack leader. Because they are very intelligent as a breed, they will 'try it on' to see how far they can push you and get away with it. If you let them, the next time they will try to proceed even further along whatever line of mischief they have chosen. They can, and must, be trained like children - punished immediately when they do something wrong. We smack them on the hip, or a light tap on the muzzle can be effective. It does absolutely NO GOOD to punish them some time after the misdeed as they cannot associate the punishment with its earlier cause. Punish immediately or not at all. The Basenji is basically a very clean dog and (normally) rather easy to house-train. Running back and forth along one wall, pawing at the door, etc., are signs that it wants to go out. A puppy will often have been at least partially house-trained before it leaves the nest.

See our books on training


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