The barkless dog, Congo dog, African bush dog, Ango Anzari, Zande dog
Characteristics & Tendencies:
TENDENCY TO DIG10%
About the Basenji
Also known as the “barkless” dog from Africa, the Basenji attracts admirers with its aristocratic nature, sitting high on its legs and always alert, yet poised. It has a tail that is generally curled tightly over one hip, and possesses a graceful demeanour in its stride. Its wrinkled brow sometimes also gives a quizzical, even mischievous expression.
How much do Basenjis eat?
3/4 – 1 cup of food a day
Are they kid-friendly?
Generally calm and loving
How much exercise?
1 hour of daily exercise
Do they need a lot of space?
Basenjis are happiest when living in large outdoor spaces
Top health issues
What are the most common health issues for Basenjis?
Recommended Health Tests from the National Breed Club:
- Hip Evaluation
- PRA-BJ1 DNA Test
- Fanconi Syndrome DNA Test
- Thyroid Evaluation
Common Basenji diseases & conditions, symptoms, diagnosis & treatment in detail:
Basenjis should undergo a hip evaluation to diagnose for hip dysplasia, the primary cause of painful hip osteoarthritis in dogs. Although Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) appears to be rare in the Basenji, it has been diagnosed. The development of hip dysplasia is usually determined by an interaction of multiple genetic and environmental factors.
Hip Dysplasia is diagnosed radiographically by the presence of degenerative changes and/r subluxation of the hip joint(s). Hips are scored by the traditional Extended Hip View (EHV) system, similar to the EHV systems used by the Orthopaedic Foundation of America (OFA), British Veterinary Association (BVA) and New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA).
Progressive Retinol Atrophy (PRA) is considered rare in the Basenji but it has been diagnosed in Australia. PRA affects the retina, which is the picture screen at the back of the eye; PRA causes the blood vessels of the retina to atrophy and die. The first symptom noticed is usually dilated pupils – a ‘glow’ or increased ‘eye shine’, and the dog may appear to have difficulty seeing in the dark or dusk (“night blind”).
There is no cure for PRA, however an eye exam by a registered Ophthalmologist will diagnose the disease. DNA testing for late consent PRA is available, and is done by taking a cheek swab of your Basenji. The PRA DNA test identifies one type of PRA, which is related to night blindness. There are another two types of PRA, for which there are currently no DNA tests available.
Fancoci syndrome is a genetic disorder of Basenjis, in which the proximal renal tubules of the kidney do not properly reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients into the body but “spill” them instead into the urine. Symptoms include excessive drinking, excessive urination, and glucose in the urine. Untreated Fanconi syndrome will result in muscle wasting, acidosis, poor condition and death. The Fanconi Syndrome DNA Test is a simple test that uses diabetic (glucose) strips that will indicate if the dog is spilling sugar into the urine. If the strip test is positive, further professional examination of blood glucose spillage should be undertaken. The onset of inherited Fanconi is typically between four and eight years of age, although onsets as early as three years and as late as ten years have occurred.
Hypothyroidism refers to a condition where the thyroid gland, which produces hormones, Thyroxine (T4) and Triiodothyronine (T3), is dysfunctional and does not produce these hormones as required by the body. This condition is known to occur in Basenjis, and owners should advise their veterinarian that Basenjis may have lower normal ranges for T4 and T3 concentrations as compared to other breeds, so a low-normal result may be normal for this breed. Common symptoms include weight gain, poor coat, reduced activity level and irritability. Diagnosis is by means of blood tests, and hypothyroidism is easily treated with an inexpensive thyroid supplement. Pet owners should have their vet periodically check their dogs, especially if they show any symptoms.
How much does a Basenji eat?
Basenjis should do well on a high-quality dog food, whether commercially manufactured or home-prepared with your veterinarian’s supervision and approval.
Any diet should be appropriate to the dog’s age (puppy, adult, or senior) and adjustments will be required as their needs change with age. Some dogs are prone to getting overweight so watch your dog’s calorie consumption and weight level. Treats can be an important aid in training, but giving too many can cause obesity. Learn about which human foods are safe for dogs, and which are not. Check with your vet if you have any concerns about your dog’s weight or diet. Clean, fresh water should be available at all times.
How often does the fur fall off?
Like all dogs, Basenjis shed – however, because their hair is so short and fine, the hair they shed is very unnoticeable compared to some other breeds. Basenjis may “blow” seasonally however, meaning they may shed a lot depending on the season. The amount of fur they shed also depends on their undercoat, where Basenjis with heavier undercoats will shed much more. The variation in shedding is usually genetic, but may also be subject to environmental factors such as the climate and whether the Basenji spends a lot of time outdoors.
Are Basenjis high maintanence?
Basenjis are fastidious creatures. Their short coat is a breeze to take care of, generally requiring no more than a quick once-over with a soft-bristle brush, a rubber grooming mitt or tool, or a hound glove every week. Brushing distributes skin oils throughout the coat to help keep it healthy and looking its best. Basenjis don’t have a “doggy” smell, and they usually don’t need to be bathed unless they get into something particularly messy. As with all breeds, the Basenji‘s nails should be trimmed regularly, because overly long nails can cause the dog pain as well as problems walking and running.
Basenjis are extremely easy to groom and keep clean with a quick wipe with a cloth or brush once or twice weekly. Basenjis will spend much of their time grooming and carefully licking their coats just like a cat.
How much exercise does a Basenji need?
Basenjis are energetic, inquisitive, and very active. They require lots of regular exercise to keep them from becoming bored. Boredom can lead to destructive behaviour. Long play sessions in a well-fenced yard or securely on lead are required. A Basenji should never run loose, as the breed’s instinct to hunt is very strong, and the dog might not be able to resist the urge to run off on a chase. Giving the dog a structured outlet for those instincts and that pent-up energy can help immensely; many Basenjis enjoy and excel at, canine sports such as lure coursing, tracking, and obedience and agility competitions.
Basenjis are active go-getters who were bred to hunt. They need regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things.
Without enough physical and mental activity, he will become bored and then he may chew up your home or scale fences (sometimes trees) in search of a more interesting life.
How often should a Basenji visit the vet?
Basenjis are generally healthy dogs, and responsible breeders screen for health disorders such as hypothyroidism, a type of inflammatory bowel disease called IPSID and canine hip dysplasia. Gene tests are available to identify carriers of Fanconi syndrome, a kidney disorder, as well as progressive retinal atrophy, or PRA; such tests allow breeders to plan breedings that will not produce those diseases. As with all breeds, a Basenji’s ears should be checked regularly, and the teeth should be brushed often.
Are Basenjis kid-friendly and sociable with humans?
Although a very affectionate dog, the Basenji can be fiercely protective of their families. They get along with other dogs but maybe argumentative sometimes.
Basenjis can be fiercely protective of their families. They need plenty of early socialisation with other people to become an ideal companion.
The Basenji is also known for being independent and aloof at times. It is alert and careful with strangers, open and calm with friends and loving and solicitous with children. When meeting strangers, the Basenji prefers to make the first overtures and should not be approached from behind.
Are Basenjis difficult to train?
Basenjis tend to be clever dogs, but are not the easiest to train. They have survived for thousands of years by being independent thinkers who see no need to obey humans. Therefore, they require creative, patient handling to bring out their best qualities. As they don’t bark, they generally make yodelling noises, which may make quite a bit of noise at times. If left to their own devices they can also be chewers and diggers.
Like all dogs, Basenjis must be taught to come when called. However, this breed should only be trusted to obey his training in an enclosed area. Many Basenjis are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of an adventure. They should not be trusted off-leash, as they are blazing fast runners, causing great risks that they will take off at full speed after anything that runs. Unsupervised time alone in a yard could mean the loss of your treasured companion as he takes off to explore the world.
A Basenji may know perfectly well all the commands they are taught, but whether they actually perform these commands is another question. He may think first and then obey, or may decide there’s no real good reason to do as you ask. Rather, Basenjis use their intelligence to demand your attention and get you to provide whatever it is they need or want. They can be manipulative, and many are willful, obstinate and dominant. They are stubborn and you could easily end up with a confused and aggressive Basenji if you try to overcome his stubbornness with force.
Compatability with other pets
Do Basenjis get along with other dogs or cats?
The Basenji can be an aloof dog; very affectionate with his family, but not outgoing to strangers. They originally hunted in packs and are usually good with other dogs if socialised while young. However, some can be argumentative with other Basenjis.
Many Basenjis are dominant and pushy toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize smaller creatures such as pet rabbits and rodents, or chickens.
They do not do well in homes with other small pets, as their instinct to chase may take over. If raised with cats they can do well but they’re not recommended for homes with hamsters, gerbils, rats, mice, guinea pigs, birds or ferrets.
Need for company
How often do they need to be around humans?
Standoffish in nature, Basenjis need extensive exposure to people, unusual sights and sounds. This is because their natural caution may turn into suspiciousness, which can be problematic when taking them for walks or have guests over.
Basenjis are clever and endearing and make great companions for an owner or family who can always stay one step ahead of them. They also make excellent watchdogs and will defend their people and property when challenged. Basenjis are noted for their courage and will stand against an intruder with everything they have. That said, their size precludes them from being an actual guard dog.
Basenjis consider themselves family and cannot be left in a yard with food and water. They require a great deal of time and attention.
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