BREED DESCRIPTION & INFORMATION
Lucy in her snow coat, Ellicott City, MD
Photo courtesy of William Spicer,
Note: The all-breed registries indicated above are the most recognized all-breed registries. The breed may be recognized by other registries not indicated here. For further details about dog registries, please see the document: Dog Breed Registries in North America.
* The FCI is the World Canine Organization, which includes 84 members and contract partners (one member per country) that each issue their own pedigrees and train their own judges. The FCI recognizes 339 breeds, with each being the "property" of a specific country. The "owner" countries of the breeds write the standards of these breeds in co-operation with the Standards and Scientific Commissions of the FCI, and the translation and updating are carried out by the FCI. The FCI is not a breed registry nor does it issue pedigrees.
Males: 17 inches; Females: 16 inches
Males: 24 lbs; Females: 22 lbs
The Basenji, commonly known as the "Barkless Dog", is a small athletic dog with many unusual traits. He is short-haired with a wrinkled forehead. His coat is smooth, fine, shiny and comes in chestnut red, pure black, tri-colour (pure black and chestnut red), and brindle (black stripes on a chestnut red background). His feet, tail point, and chest are white. The Basenji's ears are erect and opened to the front. The Basenji proudly carries his head high and possesses a look of dignity. The gait of the Basenji is distinctive, resembling a horse trotting as he moves with elegance, ease and agility.
With his keen eyesight and remarkable scenting ability, the Basenji hunts using both sight and scent. He is a high energy dog who enjoys such activities as lure coursing, tracking, conformation, obedience, and agility.
One of the oldest breeds, the Basenji appeared on ancient Egyptian engravings dating back to 3600 BC. He was preserved in his native land of Central Africa where he was highly regarded for his intelligence, courage, speed, keen scenting ability, and silence. He does not bark but instead makes yodelling sounds. He is somewhat cat-like in his mannerisms, in so much as he is frisky, agile, and cleans himself like a cat does. The Basenji is an intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. He is known to be aloof and cautious with strangers, calm and gentle with friends, and loving with children.
Some of the health problems seen in the Basenji breed include: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Hypothyroidism, and Fanconi Syndrome which is a kidney disease that strikes the middle-aged dog and is often fatal; however with new treatments many dogs are able to survive. Another health concern for the Basenji is Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency in Basenjis, this is an inherited lack of the PK enzyme in the red blood cells of an affected dog. Dogs affected with PK deficiency leads to lifelong anemia. DNA-based testing is available through VetGen.
The average life expectancy for the Basenji is 10 to 13 years.
If you are considering the adoption of a Basenji, or any breed, it is very important to be selective in choosing a responsible and reputable breeder. Ensure that the prospective puppy's parents have all health clearances. Breeding of any dog should not be done until after they have been proven to be free of evidence of significant hereditary diseases. (For more information on selecting a breeder, see the articles on the main Breed Listing and Breeders page.)
Recommended Health Screening:
For the Basenji, the CHIC* database includes health screenings for the following:
- Hip Dysplasia;
- Autoimmune Thyroiditis;
- Eye Examination by a board Ophthalmologist anually until the age of 6 and thereafter, every two years;
- Fanconi Syndrome.
Additional Health Resources:
- Basenji Health Information From the BCOA
- Canine Inherited Disorders Database Basenji
- Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) Basenji Breeds Requirements Providing a source of health information for owners, breeders, and scientists that will assist in breeding healthy dogs. CHIC is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).
- A new Genetic Test for Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency in Basenjis from VetGen - Veterinary Genetic Services
- Health and Nutrition Growing section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website which includes information on several health and nutrition related issues.
- AKC Canine Health Foundation Working towards developing scientific advances in canine health.
- Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)
- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
- Ontario Veterinary College (OVC)
- University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (PennHip)
- HealthGene HealthGene Corporation is the leading provider of veterinary DNA diagnostic services in Canada.
- Labgenvet Laboratory of Veterinary Genetics is a Canadian diagnostic laboratory that offers a comprehensive service of DNA tests for veterinary genetic diseases.
- CKC Breed Standard
- AKC Breed Standard
- UKC Breed Standard
- The Kennel Club (U.K.) Breed Standard
- Basenji F.C.I. Standard No. 43
- The Basenji Stacked and Moving An illustrated explanation of the Breed Standard, by Robert Cole.
- Grooming This section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website includes tips, articles and information covering all aspects of dog grooming along with a listing of Groomers from across Canada.
The Basenji is known to be a very intelligent but stubborn breed, who learns quickly through positive reinforcement. Puppy classes and basic obedience are strongly recommended.
- Training For training information, see this growing section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website for tips, articles, as well as listings of training centres across Canada.
Lucy the Basenji - Training the Untrainable Dog on DVD
Choose from a wide variety of items from Dogwise.com
- The BCOA African Stock Project This Project was started in order to track Basenji foundation stock imports and their progeny from the earliest successful imports of Basenjis in the 1930's.
- How to Live in Relative Harmony with Your Basenji
- Basenjis The Silent Hunters from Africa
- What Every Family Should Know Before Adopting A Basenji Online book in PDF format, written by Donna Falk. Addresses the pros and cons of owning a Basenji.
- Basenji Pedigree Search An Internet service provided by Zande Basenjis
- Lure Coursing Information
- Clubs, Sports & Activities For information on the many sports and activities you can get involved in with your dog.
- Working Dogs The Working Dogs section of the Canada's Guide to Dogs website provides information and listings of organizations that are involved in various dog jobs, such as Guide Dogs, Therapy Dogs, Police Dogs, Protection Dogs, and much more.