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Basenji

A courageous companion who doesn’t bark.  

Basenjis are a truly ancient breed, who’s ancestry can be traced back to ancient and wild Pariah dogs, who lived alongside humans for thousands of years. Basenji-like remains have been found in Egyptian tombs! The Basenji known today originated as a distinctive breed in the Congo in central Africa where they were used as hunting and tracking dogs. They are also known as the African barkless dog, African bush dog, Congo dog, Ango angari or the Zande dog. 

They are small but strong dogs with heights of around 40 to 46cm and weighing around 9 to 10kgs. Females tend to be a bit smaller than males. Basenjis come in a variety of colours including red, black and tri-coloured, brindle, blue merle, with white markings. Their life expectancy is around 12 to 14 years. They have big, upright ears and a curly tail.

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Dog Breed Facts & Characteristics

Origin

Congo, Central Africa

Also known as 

African barkless dog, African bush dog, Congo dog, Ango angari, Zande dog

Bred for

Killing vermin, hunting, and retrieving, tracking

Size 

Small, 40 to 46 cm high and 9 to 10kgs 

Weight Range

9 to 10kgs 

Colours

Red, black and tri-coloured, brindle, blue merle, with white markings

Life expectancy

12 to 14 years 

Coat

Short, smooth, sheds 

Temperament 

Athletic, independent, protective

Exercise requirements

High

Best suited for 

Experienced dog people, better suited to households without with small children  

Apartment Friendly

Can adapt to apartment living but needs exercise and entertainment and may become destructive if bored

Personality

Basenji’s are very intelligent and independent. This can make them difficult to train, but also fantastic problem solvers especially when they want something. They can bond strongly with their families and be defensive with strangers. They may be a better choice for families with older or no children. Daily exercise is vital, as they have plenty of energy to burn and can become destructive if bored. Early socialisation and training with other dogs, people and animals is important for Basenji’s who may not always love the company of other animals and be aloof with people. Always be very cautious when introducing a Basenji to other small animals, as they often have a strong prey drive and can be aggressive towards small animals. Basenjis can adapt to apartment living if they are given plenty of exercise, entertainment. Basenji’s don’t bark, but they do make other dog sounds.

Grooming

Basenji’s have a short, soft coat that requires minimal grooming. Prevent parasites by ensuring your dog is on flea control all year round and tick prevention if you are in a paralysis tick area. 

Feeding

When choosing a food for your Basenji, select a premium food appropriate to your dog’s age and life stage. Make sure your pup always has a supply of fresh, clean water available.

Common health concerns 

From 2016 to 2020, Basenjis commonly visited the vet for skin conditions, including allergic skin disease, from which they are known to suffer. Also, in the top five reasons for Basenji’s to visit the vet were liver disease, gastrointestinal upsets and cancers/tumours. Ranking at number two in the top reasons why Basenji’s visited the vet in this period were traumatic accidents, such as broken bones, perhaps testament to their active and adventurous natures! 

Table: The five most common reasons for a Basenji to visit the vet from 2016- 2020. Source: PetSure claims data. 

Rank

Condition

Average cost for single treatment
(average pet insurance claim amount)

Highest cost for single treatment (highest pet insurance claim seen for this condition)

1

Skin conditions, including allergic skin disease

$272

$1,763

2

Traumatic accidents, including broken bones and wounds

$289

$2,610

3

Liver disease

$117

$390

4

Gastrointestinal problems

$311

$1,169

5

Cancer & tumours

$258

$728

Disclaimer: Reimbursement for these claims would be subject to limits, such as annual benefit limits or sub-limits, benefit percentage, applicable waiting periods and any applicable excess. Cover is subject to the policy terms and conditions. You should consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement or policy wording available from the relevant provider.

Most popular Basenji names (PetSure data 2016-2020)

Most popular names

  1. Benji
  2. Archie
  3. Billy
  4. Bob
  5. Cleo
  6. Luna
  7. Onyx
  8. Sam
  9. Alfie
  10. Apollo

Most popular female names  

  1. Cleo
  2. Luna
  3. Onyx
  4. Bonnie
  5. Boots 
  6. Charlotte
  7. Eddie
  8. Elsa
  9. Frankie
  10. Honey

Most popular male names

  1. Benji
  2. Archie
  3. Billy
  4. Bob
  5. Sam
  6. Alfie
  7. Apollo
  8. Austin
  9. Bandit
  10. Bosley

Did you know?

Attempts to import Basenji’s into England in the 1800’s failed with the imported dogs dying from distemper virus, from which the breed had no immunity. 

Where can I get a Basenji?

It may be possible to find a Basenji via a breed specific rescue organisation. You may also find a perfect small dog for you and your family at your local rescue organisation or shelter who needs a loving home. 

References

  1. American Kennel Club, Basenji, Accessed on 17/03/2021
  2. The Kennel Club, toy Basenji, Accessed on 17/03/2021
  3. Wikipedia, Basenji, Accessed on 15/03/2021

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Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie's pets

Noah
Noah
Bei Bei
Bei Bei
Meeka
Meeka