Watch Dogs This is tricky area for Basenjis. They are definitely alert, but they are also known as "barkless" dogs. So, yes, they might alert you when a stranger approaches, but their bark sounds more like a yodel.
Size- The male of this breed stands about 17" tall at the shoulders and will generally weight about 21-24 pounds. Typically, the females are only slightly smaller.
People Friendly? Some people describe them to be cat-like. They love 'their' people, but aren't exactly minglers at social events and do have a tendency to be somewhat independent. They do have a strong desire for human interaction on their terms.
Trainability- This breed is not for everyone. It's need to chase outweighs that of a terriers and it's ability to escape is unmatched by most all other breeds. Basenjis can be willful, but don't let that alone scare you away.
Non Shedding-Basenjis shed very minimally from our experience. They're also very clean dogs who groom themselves like cats and have virtually no 'doggie' odor. But don't expect a basenji to be hypoallergenic. Since this is a breed who licks himself frequently, and the allergens associated with dogs is sometimes caused by their saliva... Be certain to test your tolerance before making the commitment to own this breed.
Basenji are not extremely common, so walking into your local shelter and finding one for adoption isn't exactly guaranteed.
A quick internet search will turn up several breeders, near and far. But, did you know you don't necessarily have to purchase a puppy from these breeders. Many will also have adult dogs that they are "retiring" from their breeding program and most will be familiar with other basenji breeders they can put you in contact with once you've made it clear that you won't be purchasing a puppy.
Be on the lookout for puppy mills and never purchase a puppy from these operations. You may think you're saving a puppy, but in reality you're only dooming the breeding parents.
Separation anxiety is common- Separation anxiety, to some degree, is a common trait with this breed. Destructive chewing, loud continuous barking or "accidents" on your carpet or furniture are a few of the possible symptoms. Crating a dog for long hours every day is not a solution. Check out our page on separation anxiety to learn what you can do to end these destructive behaviors.
Chewing- This dog is known to be a destructive chewer. If you have a lot of nice possessions and if you're picky about not wearing chewed up shoes, we urge you to carefully consider your decision to own this breed.
Housebreaking difficulties- Small breed dogs are among the hardest to housebreak. You'll need to be very patient and probably clean up several messes in the process of housebreaking this breed. We highly recommend the positive and proven training techniques outlined on our dog training page.
Very High Energy- This is a very high energy breed... You already know about the chewing and it's tendency to be an escape artist, but multiply that times 10 if you're the couch potatoe type who prefers a lethargic dog. Basenjis love to play, so boredom can set in easily if he is not kept stimulated on a reguar basis. A bored Basenji can quickly become a mischievious Basenji.
Excitability and Behavioral Issues- As the demand increases, puppy mills focus on quantity with no regard for health or temperament. But there are ways to help ensure you get a healthy dog with a good disposition. Our FAQ page will tell you how.
Training Difficulties Consistency in training is a must and the earlier you start, the better... but that won't necessarily ever lead to full submission on this dog's part. Somewhere deep in this breeds DNA is an inate instict to chase and play rough that you may never be able to train away...
Not a cat lover This is not going to be 100% true with every dog in every case, but Basenjis are hunters and chasers and cats just cannot seem to appreciate that behavior. Taking (sometimes) rough playful habits, chasing instincts and high energy into consideration, smaller animals may not always be safe around this breed. However, early introduction sometimes helps to make him more compatible with other pets.
Adopting an adult dog is GREAT way to ensure that you get all the breed characteristics you desire. Adult dogs come with several bonuses! Such bonuses Include: Already out of chewing phase, More likely to be housebroken and his temperament will already be established. Best of all, you will forever be his hero! Click here to learn even more reasons why adopting an adult dog is the smartest choice.
While not all Basenjis are unhealthy, their unique genetic make-up along with some environmental factors can make them more likely to develop any one or more of (but not limited to) the conditions listed below.
Hypothyroidism- A condition of the thyroid gland which causes weight gain, hair loss and scaly skin.
Fanconi Syndrome- This disease is much like diabetes as it affects the renal system and can eventually lead to renal failure if left untreated.
Eye Problems- Another concern for the owners of this breed are eye problems. Persistent pupillary membranes (PPM), which basically means the membrane over a puppies eye doesn't disolve in the womb as it should, but will normally disolve natually over a couple of years. Avoiding pet store and puppy mill dogs will usually help you avoid most severe if not all cases of this condition.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy- PRA, another eye disorder, is a degenerative disease of the retina that will eventually lead to blindness. It is genetic and there is no treatment.
Hip Dysplasia is a developmental subluxation of the hip joints which can eventually lead to arthritis and/or lameness. It's causes are genetic as well as environmental. A secondary concern of this affliction is osteoarthritis.
The use of pet steps has been shown to significantly reduce the wear and tear on joints.
Still unsure if a Basenji is the right dog for you?
If you're looking to share your home with a dog and you've got a soft spot for an animal in need, check into volunteering at a rescue... or better yet, become a foster parent for a dog in need of a temporary home. There are Basenjis in need of someone like you who cares.
We hope you've found this page helpful in your search for your next best friend.
If you haven't done so yet, we urge you to read our FAQ page to learn how to find a reputable breeder... and why should NEVER buy a puppy from a pet store.
Submit a photo of your Basenji here.
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