On this page, you will find information about Basenji's.

Please check out our FAQ page to learn more about this wonderful breed.

To learn more about basenjis click on this link to the Basenji Club of America:
Is A Basenji Right For Me?

The Basenji


The Basenji, in the hound group (group 2), is a small, short haired hunting dog that originated in Africa. It appears short in length (back) in comparison to its 'high' legs.  The wrinkled forehead and cheeks give it an inquisitive or worried look. An arched neck, lightly built but well toned (but not over muscled) body and high set curled tail add to the overall gracefulness of the dog.  The Basenji should portray a demeanour of poise, grace and alertness. The Basenji's gait is effortless and resembling a race horse at full trot. (swift, tireless and elegant). Ideal height for females is 16 inches and for males 17 inches at the shoulder.  Optimum weight should be about 24 pounds for males and 22 pounds for females. 

A Basenji's coat is short and fine.  Colors range from chestnut red to, black and white, to tri (black with red cheeks and pips [eyebrows]), to brindle (black stripes on a red body), all color variations with white feet, chest and tail tip.  White blaze and collar are acceptable, however, white should not be the dominate color.

The nose should be black and its eyes almond shaped and deep brown.  A Basenji's feet should be small, compact and oval shaped with well arched toes.  Dewclaws are removed when very young.  The tail should sit high and be tightly curled over the back to either side.

While a barkless and often silent dog, the Basenji is not mute by any means.  These dogs are capable of a range of sounds including: growls, 'purrs', shrieks, yodels, and 'talking' ( a sound that can only be explained by hearing it :) according to their mood.  Basenjis can also give a single "woof", but do not have the vocal cords of a normal dog (the cords are more human like) and therefore do not 'bark' in the traditional sense. 

A Basenji is a naturally clean dog that does not shed much and will groom it self much like a cat; they are considered a 'hypo-allergenic' dog.



Basenjis are often categorized/ compared to, as cat like. They will perch on the back of a couch and watch their surroundings and will groom themselves in a 'cat like' manner. They can be aloof with strangers, so in essence, yes, they are 'cat like', but they are a dog. They 'can' be somewhat challenging to train; they enjoy doing it in their own time, not yours. Basenjis are 'smart like a fox' and are trainable, but they do have "their" own mind. Time, consistency and patience are the key. A heavy hand will not work. Except against you.

Basenjis love people; although at first some may seem a bit snobbish or aloof, they warm up quickly. They are a great judge of character.

Exceedingly intelligent and highly energetic, Basenjis love spending time with "their people". They are, after all a pack dog.  They are not the dog to get if you are going to continuously be away for long periods at a time.  Every time you come home, they greet you like it's the first.  They will smell every inch of you, rub up against you and welcome you as if you've been away for months.

Basenjis are very good with children, especially if raised with them.  Although protective of their humans, Basenjis are not a guard dog.  Most often they will verbally back down an outsider, but will rarely go much further.  However, with their mannerisms, you will know if something is 'amiss'.

Basenjis are known escape artists.  And as you know, where there's a will, there's a way.  Your best defence: a 6' fence or run (not jumpable or dig-able is the key) and always keep your dog on a leash when you are out.  They are highly prey driven. It's their instinct. Rabbits, squirrels, birds all hold fascination for them. As well as cars.... That is just larger prey. Most Basenjis, if escaped from the home, will get hit/killed by a car as they are not street smart.

Basenjis become bored very easily so putting them on a chain is not a good idea; if they can break it they will, if not, they will get into a lot of mischief after let off they chain. Basenjis are an indoor, sociable dog. The are a pack dog. Your family is 'their pack'. They need to be a member of your family.

Basenjis are very adaptable.  They will be your running partner or your couch potato.  ( I would not recommend running with your Basenji till they are at least one year of age( due to puppies bone formation)) Long walks are fine and enjoyed. They can live in the country or the suburbs and with most other animals.  I say most, because Basenjis have an aversion to their own breed of the same sex.  If you want two basenjis, it is best to have 1 male and 1 female.  Same sexed Basenjis will be in constant competition with each other, especially the females for alpha position.    



Regular brushing with a soft brush (Zoom Groom) is recommended, especially during regular shedding times, which is generally mild.  Being a naturally clean and not a "doggy smelling" dog, bathing with shampoo should only be done when your dog smells bad.  If dusty or muddy a simple water bath will be sufficient.  Over shampooing can strip essential oils from their coat and cause dry skin. 

Your dog nails should be ground with a Dremel (preferred method) or clipped regularly; your vet can demonstrate the proper way to do this.


Very Brief History Of The Basenji:

The Basenji is a pariah (wild dog) native to Africa ( some believe Egypt. Remember the statues in front of the Pyramids? They have Basenji traits). In Africa, the Basenji is used as a sight and scent hunting dog for lions, still to this day. Since basenjis don't bark, they wear 'bells' around their necks so the tribesmen know where they are. The Basenji breed hunts as a pack.


Many of the Basenjis in America originated from 13 dogs, although AKC made allowances for the Basenji Club of America to obtain more dogs from Africa and broaden the breeding lines while staying true to the breed.



Each breed of dog, has it's own unique group of health issues.

Please bear in mind that not all Basenjis are predisposed to any/and or all of the following health conditions.

This information is only meant to educate and inform the reader.




Medical problems associated with the Basenji breed

The following information is provided only to educate and not meant as a means of diagnoses; if you suspect anything, please consult a veterinarian that is knowledgeable in Basenji health. These health issues "can" be found in the breed, but are not necessarily found in all lines. Please discuss with your breeder about health issues (if any) in their lines. If you are inquiring about adding a Basenji to your family, ask the breeder what type of health testing the do. Ask to see the test results.


Fanconi Syndrome

Fanconi (pronounced: fan-cone-ee) is likened to diabetes in humans and is a common disease among Basenjis.  The potentially deadly disease that affects the processing of sugars and proteins, typically appears between 4 and 7 years of age; although is it completely possible for the disease to show up at any age.

Early detection is the key to controlling Fanconi.  Usual symptoms are elevated urine glucose, but not blood sugar levels, and excessive drinking and urination.  Testing for glucose in the urine is the easiest way to identify Fanconi early.  You can purchase test stripes, over the counter, from your pharmacy.  

Fanconi is caused by both heredity and environment.  There is no way to predict if a puppy will develop Fanconi and every puppy in a litter has the same chance of inheriting it.  If any breeder tells you that they are 100% sure that their line does not carry the disease, walk away.  Instead find a breeder who will tell you the truth.  Ask for the number of occurrences  in their line.  This will not guarantee you a non-afflicted pup, but it will give you a good chance.

Another way to prevent Fanconi is by making sure your pup has a beneficial diet.  DO NOT restrict your Basenji's protein intake.  These dogs require higher amounts of protein on a normal basis and when afflicted by Fanconi, the dog 'passes' the proteins and amino acids necessary for healthy living.  Recent studies have shown that the Basenji breed does better when given small amounts of high quality meat.                      

For a much more detailed report on Fanconi, please visit: http://www.apubasenjis.com/FanconiProtocol2003.htm


The Canine Phenome Project has made a major breakthrough in identifying the Fanconi gene through the DNA marker test. This new test is 96% accurate. Hopefully within a year or two, the CPP will have a test that will be 100% accurate. For complete information about the Canine Phenome Project, please visit http://www.caninephenome.org/info.html

In a nut shell, there are 4 possible results.

1) Clear
2) Indeterminate or Equivocal (which is a split gene, the dog not being clear, carrier or affected)
3) Carrier 
4) Affected with the Fanconi gene.

A Clear, Equivocal or Carrier cannot develop fanconi syndrome. These dogs will live happy, healthy, long lives.

An Affected dog will develop fanconi at some point during their lives. With the protocol that is in place, these dogs may also live long, happy lives. For the protocol please visit www.basenjihealth.org  then click on "Download the Fanconi Treatment Protocol.

**On each of my dogs pages, you can find the results of this test.


Hip Dysplasia

Common in several breeds of dogs, Hip Dysplasia is the malformation of the hip joint.  Depending on the severity of the malformation, the discomfort level may range from stiffness in walking to a crippling of the back legs.  Regular exercise and a healthy diet can help in the proper maintenance of the hip joints.  Hip Dysplasia is not as common in Basenjis but it is always recommended to have your dog checked by your veterinarian.  All Breeding stock must carry a hip rating from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) http://www.offa.org/hipinfo.html .  Acceptable OFA ratings are Excellent, Good and Fair. Unacceptable breeding ratings are borderline and moderate. 


Patellar Luxation

The patella, or kneecap, is part of the stifle joint (knee). In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position. This can be genetic or due to an injury. Most conditions can by managed with arthritic medication. For more detailed information, please visit: http://www.offa.org/patluxinfo.html


Umbilical Hernias

Basenjis like humans have "inny" and "outty" belly buttons.  You should not be worried unless the "outty" belly becomes violently red and/or swollen.  If this happens, see your vet immediately.


Thyroid Levels

Hypothyroidism is common to Basenjis.  Basenjis have a higher thyroid activity level than other breeds of dogs and an under active thyroid will cause obesity and poor coat and skin conditions. For more information, please visit: http://www.offa.org/thyinfo.html

Hypothyroidism can be controlled with medication; breeding should be only under a veterinarian's supervision.


Persistent Papillary Membrane (PPM)

PPM is a fine sheet of veins that feed the developing eye of a puppy.  Before the eyes open, a protein that dissolves this membrane will be excreted.  If the membrane is not completely dissolved, visible cobweb like strands will be left.  In the worst cases, the eyes of the dog will look blue instead of the deep brown they are supposed to be.  Again, reputable breeders will have their dogs tested and 'CERF'ed and will not breed two PPM 'heavy' dogs.  To have a CERF rating a Basenji has to be found 'clear' in comprehensive optical testing.  Because of the possibility that dogs ocular abnormalities may be produced by breeding two mildly affected dogs, the ACVO (American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists) Genetics Committee advises breeders not to breed affected stock, and CERF (Canine Eye Research Foundation) certificates are not issued for affected animals. For more information, please visit: http://www.vmdb.org/dx1.html



Coloboma, or a gap or hole in the eye structure, can range from mild to severe.  Usually found at the bottom of the eye, the gap can occur in the eyelid, iris, lens, choroids, or optical nerve.  A responsible breeder will have their dogs check for Coloboma and will not breed their dog if it is found. Again, ask for a CERF rating and to see medical records of the dog and its parents. For more detailed information, please visit: http://www.healthline.com/galecontent/coloboma


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA is a fairly common problem with Basenjis.  As with Fanconi Syndrome, your breeder should always be up front with the number of occurrences in their line.  PRA is slow continuing damage to the retina in which it is replaced by scar tissue.  A veterinary ophthalmologist can examine the retina with an instrument called an indirect ophthalmoscope. Changes in  the retinal blood vessel pattern, the optic nerve head and the reflective substance within the dog's eye, called  the tapetum, can be seen; these changes are classic for PRA.  However in some breeds PRA characteristics have little or no early changes. The eyes of these dogs may appear normal until they are in the later stages of the disease. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy will progress at different rates in different breeds. This variation causes difficulty in determining just how long any one particular dog will continue seeing.  Testing for the recessive gene that causes PRA will be available in the near future.  For more information, please visit: http://www.vmdb.org/dx3.html


Hemolytic Anemia

A recessive gene which can be tested for, this form of anemia is not curable.  A reputable breeder will test their dogs before breeding them.  Affected pups usually die early on. For detailed information, please visit: http://www.petplace.com/dogs/immune-mediated-hemolytic-anemia-in-dogs-imha/page1.aspx



Malabsorbtion or Immunoproliferative Systemic Intestinal Disease (IPSID) is an inherited disease that is fatal.  You can maintain a dog with IPSID for several years, however, they will be anorexic, have long term diarrhea, and can not be bred as it is defiantly genetic.