Breed Group:
Hound Dogs

Middle Age: 5 years

Geriatric Age: 10 years

Life Span: 10 to 12 years

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Basenji Breed Info & Background

The Basenji breed is one of the most ancient dog breeds to date. Linked to both Africa and Egypt, these dogs would use their instinctive skills to hunt for tribes and early citizens. Their specialized aptitude for hunting has placed them in the hound category.

The Basenji breed has even been nicknamed “the barkless dog” due to their quiet nature. In the 1940’s the first Basenji was brought to America as a gift from the pharaohs of the Nile.

Today they are recognized by their distinct characteristics, wrinkled forehead, curly tail, and almond shaped eyes. If you are looking for an affectionate and intelligent dog, the Basenji breed would be a great choice!

Basenji Temperament & Personality

The Basenji is a loving dog, one that craves attention and compassion from any human interaction. They can have a rather independent personality, which makes them lacking in obedience. Likely to chase after squirrels or rabbits on their daily walks, this breed shares the same characteristics and behaviors of most sighthounds.

When it comes to living with cats, they can get along with them just fine as long as they have been properly trained early on. Keep in mind that the Basenji can be weary of strangers, and should never be suddenly approached from behind.

Training a Basenji

With the affection of a dog and personality of a cat, the Basenji can be a hard breed to train. Being one of the most independent breeds, they tend to beat to their own drum in every situation.

The Basenji also gets bored easily, which can lead to mischief and destructive behavior. Having training experience is highly recommended when dealing with a Basenji and requires lots of patience and persistence.

Exercise Recommendations for Basenjis

Basenjis have a high activity level and require an hour or two of physical activity a day. It’s important to note that this breed should be kept on a leash at all times. Their hunting and independent nature will have them roaming off and chasing animals if not closely supervised.

Basenjis Lifespan and Longevity

A Basenji lifespan ranges anywhere from 10-12 years. This is within the average age for most medium-sized dogs.

Are Basenjis a Popular Breed?

According to the American Kennel Club, the Basenji is ranked 88th most popular dog breed in America. Known for being “barkless” and hygienic, this dog breed is a favorite for many.

Feeding Requirements for the Basenji Breed

Basenjis should consume one cup of high-quality food, split into two meals a day. Avoid any food that contains grain based fillers such as soy, corn, and wheat as these have been linked to Basenji allergies and are harder to digest.  Keep in mind that the amount of food may vary depending on your dog’s age, metabolism, size, and activity level. The quality of food is also very important when providing your pet with the best nutrition. Consult with your veterinarian for more specific feeding recommendations catered to your unique dog.

How to Groom a Basenji

Shedding is at a minimal for the Basenji breed. Weekly brushing is recommended to keep their short coat soft and shiny. Luckily for pet owners, this dog is known to lack any odors and have great self-hygiene habits by licking themselves clean.

These two factors make the Basenji breed low maintenance and easy to care for. To avoid cracking or infection, nails should be trimmed about every two weeks.

Are Basenjis Good With Children?

Characterized with a playful spirit, the Basenjis are a great companion for children. Make sure to have them raised with children from a young age. Socializing your pet with children and strangers as a puppy is the best way to develop good Basenji behavior around other people.

Basenji Health Problems

  • Fanconi syndrome: This hereditary kidney disease is caused by a recessive gene. Symptoms of Fanconi syndrome include excessive drinking, excessive urination, and glucose in the urine. If gone untreated, this illness can result in muscle wasting, acidosis, and possibly even death. Onset is usually between four and eight years of age. About 7% of Basenjis are diagnosed with Fanconi syndrome.
  • Immuno-proliferative small Intestine disease (IPSID): Also known as Basenji enteropathy, immunoproliferative lymphoplasmacytic enteritis, Basenji diarrheal syndrome, and malabsorption, IPSID is a type of inflammatory bowel syndrome that causes inability to absorb nutrients properly. Symptoms can include diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, increased or decreased appetite, gas, and depression. This disease can be difficult to diagnose. Treatment includes a change in the diet, prednisone, and antibiotics.
  • Coloboma: A coloboma is a weak or deteriorated area in the retina of the eye. In severe cases, it can interfere with proper vision.
  • Persistent pupillary membrane: This occurs when strands of fetal membranes extend across the pupil opening. Basenji have one of the highest rates of PPM of any breed (about 75%) but most have a mild form that doesn’t affect vision. A few have more strands or a solid sheet, which causes blurred vision.
  • Basenji retinopathy / progressive retinal atrophy (PRA): PRA is a progressive retinal deterioration that can lead to blindness during old age. It is typically diagnosed between ages 4 and 10. Basenjis appear to have more than one type of PRA, one of which appears to be a different form of PRA than that seen in other breeds.
  • Pyruvate kinase deficiency: This occurs when defective genes cause an unhealthy balance of red blood cells. Pyruvate kinase deficiency will then cause anemia and potentially even death. Cystinuria: Cystinuria is a hereditary condition that causes bladder stones and urinary blockage. This is a serious condition that needs immediate medical attention.
  • Patellar luxation: This occurs when the knee cap slips in and out of place causing intermittent lameness.
  • Hip dysplasia: Common in most breeds, hip dysplasia occurs when the hip joint is abnormally formed, causing lameness and immobility.

Other Recommendations

National Breed Website: Basenji Club of America

Rescues: Basenji Rescue 


Health Issues Associated with this Breed:
  • Coloboma
  • Fanconi Syndrome
  • Hip Dysplasia
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Immunoproliferative Systemic Intestinal Disease
  • Inflammation
  • Pain
  • Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)
  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy(PRA)
  • Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia)
  • Umbilical hernia