According to the American Kennel Club Website a Basenji is a small, short haired, barkless hunting dog from Africa.

My Basenji is from Indiana. She has a small wrinkled face that is proudly carried on her graceful neck. Her demeanor is is one of poise and alertness. She is so intent she can wake you from a deep sleep just by staring at you. She does not bark. She is silent and beautiful and elegant and graceful. Her muscles are taut and she moves with the strength and grace of a racehorse when she is running.

My Basenji's name is Snickers. She is small for the breed but so incredibly fast; it fills me with joy watching her run full out, overtaking all the larger dogs at the off-leash park, her curled tail straightening out as she accelerates, flying over the grass in full gallop.

She is smart and full of mischief; she teases other bigger dogs into chasing her and then runs through an unsuspecting person's legs...then eight 100lb dogs try to follow her through the same bowling with the dogs as the ball and the people as the pins. I swear she laughs when she does this.

She is my little silent monster robot doggie. I love her.

Our basenji, Pearl (born on Pearl Harbor day, 2001), is a 22 lb tri-color. Her white, brown and black markings are perfectly symetrical, from her white blaze to black saddle. As with all basenji's, she doesn't bark, but she does make noise:

  • When a friend of hers passes by outside or some other event excites her, she gives off a single, sharp, "yip!" that goes by so fast you almost wonder if you really heard it.
  • When she yawns, a high-pitched little "yowww" sometimes escapes.
  • When she's excited to see you, but you don't pay her enough attention, a pleasantly modulated "rrroooo" comes out.

She often stands like a show dog in the characteristic pose for her breed: feet a shoulder-width apart, leaning forward slightly, tail tightly curled, head up, eyes alert and ears forward. It's beautiful.

Like most basenji's, she's a speed demon: some dogs can take her on the straightaways, but she can take them back on the curves. At full gallop, her tail straightens out behind (for balance) and her ears slick back against her head (so they don't catch on things or offer up air resistance).

Basenji's are both sight and scent hounds and Pearl displays this constantly. She can spot a treat in my hand at 50 paces and smell a cat through a brick wall.

While she's quite intelligent, she has by no means learned to use her intelligence for good rather than evil. Usually she looks to see if anyone is watching before she does something bad - such as her favorite of grabbing the free end of the toilet paper on the roller and running like hell. If you keep an eye on her, however, she will stay in line.

We love her.

This dog is also know as the congo dog, the African bush dog, the Congo terrier or simply the barkless dog. In many West African languages the word Basenji means 'little trouble maker of the forest' --In the Congo the dog is called M'bwa M'kubwa Wanwitu which means 'the jumping-up-and-down dog' Basenjis have a habit of jumping up on top of things and often end up in odd places (such as inside of a kitchen cabinet. )

Like wolves, Basenji have only one breeding season a year. They are also unusual in that they tend to trot like horses and lick themselves clean like cats. They have almost no doggy odor and tend to avoid water.

You can see these dogs in Egyptian artwork that is over 4000 years old.

These dogs were prized for thousands of years by West African Tribesmen for their independence and intelligence. An old saying went 'a smart dog is better than a wife.'

If you are considering a Basenji it's important to remember what these dogs were bred to do. They are meant to hunt small animals. Keep homes and villages free of rats and assist hunters in spotting prey. They are not good at following orders and require a lot of exercise and ideally a fenced area of great size so they can roam about. They are sighthounds to a certain degree and have a strong chase instinct that makes cars dangerous to them.

Often when Basenji owners speak of their pets it seems like they are talking about a person. Part of the joy of Basenji's is their individuality and personality. They insist on being included in the family and will even put their two cents in to any family discussions by yodeling and rooing.

The sources for this write up include Desmond Morris’ book DOGS and various websites on the Basenji.

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