10 Things You Didn’t Know about the Basenji


Originally developed in Africa for use as a hunting dog, the Basenji is a dog people seem to enjoy owning. There are some people who have never heard of this breed, and it’s not surprising. There are many dog breeds in existence that are not nearly as well-known as some of the more popular breeds, and many that are more well-known because of their popularity as household pets. The Basenji is neither the most or the least popular dog for homeowners. He comes in 84th on the list of most popular dogs according to ownership records in the states. However, he’s a dog many people find they know little to nothing about. Don’t let that surprise you, though; many people know very little about dog breeds they do not own, and it’s only natural. Each is different and unique, and each breed provides dogs that have their own personality traits. But we have a few facts you might not know about the Basenji that might just surprise you.

Basenji’s don’t Bark

There is a misconception that these are dogs that do not have the ability to bark, but this is not true. They can bark, but they will not bark. It is not a mute dog, according to the American Kennel Club, though the rumor is that this is a mute dog. If you’re looking for one that doesn’t make much noise, this is the breed for you. Be warned, however, that this breed does make noise. It’s not a silent dog. Some say that it yowls. Others say that it makes other strange noises, and it definitely will find a way to make some sound when it needs your attention. It’s awkwardly shaped vocal cords are the reason this particular breed is unable to bark like a traditional dog, but that doesn’t make it the silent type.

They don’t Love Nighttime Walks

They were a breed developed to spend their time outside during the day, and for some reason this dog still feels the same way. These are dogs that are nervous when going out at night. They might show reluctance or even refuse to do it, as it’s something that is ingrained into the breed not to want to do. They were developed to fear the dark and what might lie in wait, and this is an inherited trait that’s difficult to break.

The Basenji was a Royal Gift

In years past, the Basenji was a popular royal gift. What this means is that they were presented many times to noblemen, kings, queens and other important rulers so that people could show their respect and their admiration for their leaders. While I would have preferred a nice wine or something of that nature, these people felt dogs more appropriate.

They’re Bred with Wild Animals

There are some depictions from ancient times that show the Basenji being bred with wild animals, which is why the animal is more like a jackal than anything else. There are only a few places hidden deep in Africa where this breed is still completely purebred, and many people find it difficult to find these dogs anywhere.

It has No Body Odor

Ask any pet owner what their least favorite part of owning a dog might be, and the answer close to the top every single time will be the odor of the dog. Dogs are dogs; they smell like dogs. They smell like something interesting; and it can change based on the weather and other factors. The Basenji, however, is a dog breed that does not have body odor. That’s a nice bonus for anyone looking to make this breed its own.

It’s a bit like a Cat

The Basenji has some seriously cool attributes, including the fact that it’s considered one of the cleanest dogs around. The reason is that it cleans itself much like a cat, and that helps to keep the dog looking good, and it means fewer baths for you to give. That’s not a bad deal, if you think about it.

They’re Neat Freaks

Have you ever heard of a dog that’s a neat freak? Probably not; many dogs love to just exist and they don’t particularly care when and where they are. The Basenji, on the other hand, is a dog that does tend to experience a bit of anxiety and discomfort when in a cluttered location. This is a dog best kept in a neat and clean clutter-free home.

They Enjoy Grooming

Most animals would rather do anything else than sit still while they are being groomed. The Basenji, however, is quite happy to sit back and relax while being groomed. The reason being is that it’s a clean dog that doesn’t mind going outside and getting a bit dirty, but it prefers to be clean. What this means for you is that grooming sessions will not consist of effort or work for you other than getting through the process quickly as your dog sits comfortably around.

They don’t Care to be Left Outdoors

The Basenji is not a dog that cares much to be left outdoors unattended. In fact, it’s a breed that has no real issue being outside, but it prefers to be inside where it is clean and comfortable. The dog loves to walk, loves exercise and loves to play. But if you think that you can leave this breed in the yard for long periods of time without a job or companionship, you’re mistaken. It will really give you a hard time for attempting this.

They’re Affectionate Dogs

This breed is so particular and so uptight when it comes to cleanliness and its efforts, but it’s not a dog that doesn’t love attention and affection. In fact, this breed loves its family, loves to cuddle and loves when it is shown attention and affection. And it’s willing to give it right back to you, as well. And that’s something you won’t mind considering how clean this breed likes to stay on a regular basis.

Photo by Getty Images


  1. Signal Pupett June 12, 2015
  2. Kayne Sirocco LaTrans June 12, 2015
  3. Chris O'Rear June 12, 2015
  4. Rick C June 25, 2015

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