The Basenji is an alert, energetic, curious dog that is often aloof and reserved with strangers. They tend to be particularly attached to one or two people in the home, although they typically love and tolerate other members. They can also be very independent or velcro dogs, depending on genetics and partially dependent on how they are raised.
When introduced properly, Basenjis have been known to get along well with small animals. BUT. It is important to remember, however, that they are an African hunting dog, so extreme caution is warranted. Exposure to all sorts of animals, among other things, ideally before a puppy reaches 12 weeks of age. This will increase the likelihood of a successful introduction to new situations where a Basenji might not normally accept something, and where a person might be cautioned by in a normal situation..
Basenjis are very cat-like, and majority of them dislike being wet or going out in wet weather; often times, they will refuse to go outside in any sort of damp conditions.
While not all Basenjis enjoy kids, with proper introductions, socialization, and care, Basenjis can be great companions for children. It is important to use caution, however, to ensure that children have respect for their pets, and to always supervise them around children, especially small children under the age of 5 years. Teaching children to read canine body language and to teach them safe and proper handling will go a long ways in a successful introduction and memorable life with a Basenji.
Basenjis are incredibly intelligent and tend to be overly clever dogs when they want something, especially if they can’t have it. They are creative and love to get into things when bored. They also can be very destructive when left unattended or when they have nothing else better to do. They have been known to find all ways to escape, including climbing over a 6 foot fence or digging a tunnel under to escape. They are also very prey driven and will do anything they can do get to something they want to chase (aka, a bunny or squirrel in the front yard). For this reason, a crate with proper crate training is ideal for this breed. They also have been known to redirect their frustration onto things close to them when they do not get their way. The ability to work with them and release frustration through safe means will be important when owning a Basenji. This breed needs a patient, understanding owner that will help bring out their best qualities and allow them to have a meaningful life with something to do. Although they can be difficult, they also are amazing cuddle partners, great bed heaters, comedians that can make you laugh when you are in your darkest time, and are the best friends anyone could ever ask for. You either love them, or 😛 hate them, There is no in between.
The Basenji is a hound originally used in Africa as a hunting dog. They were bred to be able to travel long distances without getting tired. “Swift, tireless trot. Stride is . . . effortless” according to the AKC Basenji breed standard. They were bred for energy, persistence, and are one of the few breeds of dogs that are both sight and scent hounds. This means they are “twice” as keen on the prey because they use two senses instead of just one. They also are one of the more uncommon breeds of dogs that have a trot like a thoroughbred racehorse. These gorgeous dogs trot around so elegantly and have been described as having a regal appearance. Also unique to only some breeds, the Basenji has a double suspension gallop which allows it to “fly” through the air, so to speak, where no legs are touching the ground within certain phases of its gallop. This allows them to move faster and cover more ground during a hunt or a chase than other breeds. This also means that catching them when they run off is almost impossible. (Unless you have a solid training protocol in place and are lucky enough to get a good recall down!) We do work with all of our puppies on recalls, starting at the whelping box when we introduce the puppies to food! We use the Pavlov’s dog ideology which has, so far, instilled amazing recalls in our puppies. We thank our puppy buyers for giving us feedback to improve this!
With this said, your typical Basenji is not one to be trusted off leash. While there are exceptions, most Basenjis, if left unsupervised in a yard, will typically take off to explore the world or go hunting. While we work on solid recalls starting as puppies at the food dish, recalls are not always 100% effective when a rabbit or squirrel decides to make an appearance. For this reason, it is encouraged to always have a nice fitted collar and a leash attached when outdoors. Just incase. We love them as much as you do, and would be devastated to hear the loss of your family member through an accident.
Being a very active breed, the Basenji should be given plenty of daily physical activity, as well as mental stimulation. A long walk, free running, and energetic games in an enclosed area are also great ways to occupy this breed and keep it from its potentially destructive nature. Lure coursing is also a great, fun way for dogs (and owners) to enjoy themselves, and for the dogs to release energy and do what they love to do, which is run!
Nutrition is so extremely important!
Did you know?
Hip Dysplasia(HD) is actually a polygenic trait which means that multiple genes will affect the outcome of a dog becoming afflicted with it. What does this mean to you?
Not only are genetics and proper exercise important for dogs to avoid HD, but nutrition is another key factor that plays a huge roll in the affliction of this painful disease.
While I will talk just briefly here on this topic, because I have a whole page devoted to it, proper nutrition for your canine companion is of extreme importance.
This is especially true in the case of a growing puppy. Puppies require precise growth formulas for their bodies to grow and mature at proper rates. Feeding an appropriate puppy diet will ensure your puppy receives all of the nutrients it needs during the critical growth period. This will reduce structural and developmental problems as the puppy ages and give you more peace of mind.
Puppies also cannot regulate their own nutrients until they are much older, so it is vital that you NEVER feed a home prepared diet to a growing puppy UNLESS it is specifically formulated by a professional nutritionist that uses the National Research Council’s (NRC) guidelines for growing puppies. Most nutritional problems can be corrected on puppies, if you catch it early enough, before the growth plates have closed. However, once growth plates have closed, any nutritional damage that you see will be permanent, and the dog will have to live with such damage for the rest of its life.
It is also important to note that dogs should be kept at a healthy lean or pet weight. Dogs that are allowed to be obese and overeat have a higher rate at developing HD than dogs that are fed on a strict schedule and kept at a fit, lean weight. Puppies that are allowed to overeat will also keep this bad habit when they grow up, which can lead to obesity. Free feeding is never a good idea. This allows dogs to engorge on food and continue to eat even when full. It also will limit your ability to note when there is a problem, such as reduced food intake or lack of eating, which can be indicators of an approaching health problem. Puppies, even adults, should be fed 2-3 times a day. This allows owners to be able to notice changes in eating habits and be able to detect problems faster which could ultimately save your dog’s life!
While we put in a very strong effort to start our puppies off on the right foot when it comes to training, it is something that is incredibly important for owners to keep in mind when contemplating a Basenji. All future Basenjis owners should be aware of and expect to put in a lot of time and energy into training. Ensuring they are ready to invest time in a good trainer if unsolvable problems arise. Basenjis are typically not for the first time owner or soft hearted owners either. Their primitive like behavior and willingness to be independent can often make them difficult and unruly members of the household. They are a breed that needs lots of hours invested in training and their owners must always be in control at all times. With dedicated training, Basenjis can be an amazing breed for those who love them. While we work hard to get good temperaments, use puppy culture protocols for easier training, pre-start training on all puppies prior to placement, and offer 24/7 support, we do need to emphasize that future behavior will be based on what you teach your puppy, or continue to teach your puppy, after they leave our home. For our puppies here, we personally start them all on potty training, crate training, clicker training, some obedience training, manding, resource guarding, and, whether permitting, we also work on leash training. It is a buyers responsibility to research breeders to find the right breeder to fit what they are looking for in a future Basenji or puppy.