The Basenji originated in Zaire and the Congo where they served as hunting companions to Pygmy hunters. They were successful at driving game into nets and adding to the community’s food supply. Enthusiasts were not able to bring the Basenji outside of Africa until 1929, making them one of the most recent breeds to enter America. But their background isn’t the only thing that makes this breed unique. Unlike other dog breeds, the Basenji does not have the ability to bark. A very rare thing for canines!
Not to say that these dogs are completely silent creatures. While they don’t bark, they do make other noises, that are often compared to sounds like laughing or yodeling. They have a distinctive personality, as they are stubborn and independent, but also quite reserved. Many Basenji owners compare them to cats – they keep to themselves and are inquisitive, but quiet.
While they like to keep to themselves, they are also quite an active breed, so their owners need to give them plenty of mental and physical exercise if they want a happy dog. A long walk or run around the neighborhood would work well, or a hike in the woods. Off-leash time and mental stimulation also works. If they do not get this exercise, they are known to become destructive, getting their pent-up energy out by destroying yards, shoes, or other such things.
As far as pet health concerns go, this breed has a few major ones they are prone to suffering from, including Basenji enteropathy, and progressive retinal atophy. Basenji enteropathy is a inflammatory digestive condition of progressive malabsorption in the intestines which results in protein loss. PRA is the gradual deterioration of the retina in the eye. Both of these conditions (and others Basenjis can contract) are expensive to treat. Many pet owners choose pet insurance to help pay for any treatment if needed over the life of the pet.
Other than these health conditions, Basenjis are fairly low maintenance, as they do not require much coat care or grooming. If kept healthy, these dogs can live to be between twelve and fourteen years old.