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.