What is a Basenji?

What is a Basenji? The Basenji dog has been used as a hunting dog for centuries. Their main task was to flush out birds and small animals from their hiding places. The Basenji’s vocal abilities gave them an advantage over other dogs when it came to hunting prey.

The Basenji’s name comes from the word “basengi” which means “to bark” in Lingala language. This breed was also known as “bush dog” because its coat resembles that of a bush pig or bush goat.

Basenji History

Originating in Africa, the Basenji dates back to ancient times in Egypt. Pictures of the Basenji are on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs. They are mainly used as watchdogs in Africa to warn others of the presence of wild game, and they often hunt wild game as pack dogs.

what is a basenji
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Size and Appearance

The Basenji is a small to medium-sized dog, weighing between 22 to 25 pounds. Their height is around 15″ to 17″.

The smooth, shiny, dense coat is short and lies flat against the body. AKC acceptable colors for Basenjis are black, chestnut red, tricolor, or brindle, all with white on the chest, feet, and tip of the tail in any color, including pinto, white, or brindle. The coat is easy to care for.

Basenjis are also known for licking and grooming their hair like a cat.


This high-energy dog makes an excellent watchdog. Just because the Basenji does not bark, does not mean that they are a meek, quiet lap dog. They are very energetic and need plenty of play and exercise. They are perfect for homes that enjoy outdoor activity and will make sure that their Basenji has time to run and roam.

They are slow to warm up to strangers and will alert you if they see a stranger. They need a lot of exercise and play. Since they are a little on the independent side, they also enjoy some alone play.

Chewing is one of their favorite pastimes, so load them up with toys so they don’t pick your favorite pair of shoes as a chew toy.

Early Socialization is Important

With early socialization, they can do well with children and other dogs. Because they possess a little bit of an independent nature, early training is recommended to help curb any unwanted behaviors.

Interesting Facts About the Basenji Dog

The Basenji is an interesting dog and therefore comes with some interesting facts, including:

  • Known as the barkless dog, the Basenji (bah-SEN-gee) makes a low howl/moaning/yodeling sound instead of barking.
  • They are also called the Congo Dog.
  • The Basenji is one of the oldest breeds of dog still in existence today: It has been around for thousands of years!
  • The Basenji is known for being extremely vocal and having a unique howl that sounds like it’s saying “Ba-zan-jee!”
  • Basenjis are extremely fast runners, reaching speeds up to 34 miles per hour!
Basenji Breed Profile

Basenji Rescue Organizations

If you’re looking to adopt a Basenji dog, the following organizations could be the first place to check out. You can also look on PetFinder for Basenji dogs near you.

Is the Basenji Right for You?

If you’re looking for a dog that will obey commands without question and always stay by your side, the Basenji might not be the best choice for you. But if you want a smart, loyal companion who likes to play games, run around and get into mischief every now and then, then this dog may just be perfect for you!

2 thoughts on “What is a Basenji?

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