Mischievous, smart, lively and by no means silent, the “barkless” Basenji is a hilarious handful. And they are unique and beguiling pets.

Daily Care

Grooming Tips

Basenjis are fastidious creatures. Their short coat is a breeze to take care of, generally requiring no more than a quick once-over with a soft-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove every week. Brushing distributesskin oils throughout the coat to help keep it healthy and looking its best. Basenjis don’t have a “doggy” smell, and they usually don’t need to bebathedunless they get into something particularly messy.
Check the ears on a weekly basis for signs of infection, irritation, or wax build up. Cleanse regularly with a veterinarian-approved cleanser and cotton ball. Brush the teeth at least once per week to prevent tartar buildup and fight gum disease. Additionally, nails should be trimmed once per month if the dog does not wear down the toenails naturally.

Exercise Tips

Basenjis like to be kept busy and therefore need to be given regular exercise on a daily basis and ideally, this has to include lots of mental stimulation for them to be truly happy, well-rounded characters that are a pleasure to have around. They are a great choice for people who lead active, outdoor lives because a Basenji is definitely not a “stay at home dog” nor are they couch potatoes. As such a good brisk walk in the morning and then again in the afternoon are absolutely essential. Two hours daily exercise is the ideal for these active, alert dogs to prevent boredom setting in and it should include lots of mental stimulation.
However, because the Basenji is an incredibly skilled sighthound, letting them off their leads can be problematic unless the area is ultra-safe and there are no animals around for them to chase after. Gardens need to be made extremely secure because the Basenji is more than capable of jumping high fences which as previously mentioned, they do with the greatest of ease.

Feeding Tips

Basenjis need to be fed a good quality well-balanced diet that meets all their nutritional needs throughout their lives for them to remain fit and healthy. If you have decided to get a puppy from a breeder, they would provide you with a feeding schedule and it’s important to stick to it for the first few weeks after bringing a Basenji puppy home. You can change their diet when the time is right, but this needs to be done very gradually and carefully over a few weeks to make sure puppies don’t suffer any tummy upsets.
It’s also important for puppies to be fed at least 3 to 4 times a day, to begin with, but you can start feeding them the same amount of food twice a day when they are around 4 months old always keeping an eye on things to make sure a young dog can cope with the change in their feeding routine.
Older more mature dogs can be fed twice a day, once in the morning and then again in the evening and this needs to be good quality food that contains all the right nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that dogs need to remain healthy. However, some Basenjis can become fussy eaters if given too many treats which is something to bear in mind when you are training a dog and using high-value treats.
Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times. Like many large breeds, Saint Bernard can experience bloat, a life-threatening condition where the stomach distends and twists. The causes of bloat aren’t fully understood, but experts agree that multiple, small meals per day and preventing vigorous exercise around mealtimes may help reduce the chances of it happening.

Health Tips

Basenjis have an average lifespan of 10 to 14 years. Health concerns of particular risk for this breed may includecataracts, coloboma, corneal dystrophy, Fanconi syndrome, hemolytic anemia,hip dysplasia, immunoproliferative small intestinal disease, persistent pupillary membrane,progressive retinal atrophy, thyroid problems and hernias.


The Basenji can also be trained for competition. Its short coat is easy to upkeep and its regal look goes a long way in the ring.
Obedience training is difficult with this breed, but with hard work and dedication, your dog can be trained. The Basenji strives to please its owner and it has an abundance of energy that needs to be funneled in a positive manner. You will find that positive reinforcement, along with firm commands, works best with this breed. As well, you’ll have greater success if you make the dog think that what you want it to do is its idea. If you find training to be too challenging, it may be a good idea to look into hiring a professional.


Basenjis are contenders for the title of oldest AKC breed. Paleontologists tell us that the first domesticated dogs looked a lot like Basenjis. They were already well established when they were brought up the Nile from interior Africa as gifts for the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Basenjis are depicted in ancient Egyptian artifacts, and traces of the breed can also be seen in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art.
What is known is that Europeans found small, shorthaired hunting dogs in the remote forests of Central Africa—the Congo, as it was known then—as well as in Sudan and Zaire. Their job was to find prey and flush it so that it ran into cunningly laid nets. Edward C. Ash in his book Dogs: Their History and Development, quotes a priest, Father Jerom Merolla da Sorrento, who saw the dogs in the Congo in 1682: “These dogs, notwithstanding their wildness, do little or no damage to the inhabitants. They are red-haired, have small slender bodies and their tails turned upon their backs.”
A pair of Basenjis were brought to Britain in 1895, but the dogs died of distemper in those pre-vaccination days. More were successfully imported to Britain in 1937, but Basenjis sent to the United States that same year all died of distemper, except for one, a male named Bois. Finally, in 1941, another female, Congo, was brought in from Africa. She and Bois produced puppies, and more of the dogs were later imported from Britain and Canada. The Basenji Club of America was formed in 1942, and the American Kennel Club recognized the breed in 1943. Today the Basenji ranks 89th among the breeds registered by the AKC.