Learn about the temperament and personality of the Basenji. Discover what he’s like to live with, his traits and characteristics and how he generally behaves.
Commonly known as the “Barkless Dog,” the Basenji is one of the oldest natural breeds in the world. The Basenji is a small hunting dog from Africa. He is a proud, faithful, teasing, playful dog who will try to outsmart you every chance he gets. He has a phenomenal intelligence, and is also an independent thinker. They have a reputation for being stubborn, but they can be taught in the hands of a skilled trainer. They are not terribly obedient. It is important to establish yourself as the pack leader with the Basenji, so early obedience training is important. The Basenji has a lot of energy and loves to play and to stay busy. He will need plenty of exercise. While they are predominantly used as hunting dogs, they also excel at lure coursing, agility, and tracking. The Basenji needs to be kept on a leash or in a fenced area at all times. The Basenji has a strong prey drive and loves to chase. He is incredibly athletic and can jump over or climb most fences. He will dart for an open door or gate and be gone before you know it. And once he is gone, he is very, very fast. They are not famous for their reliability with the recall. When in pursuit of their prey, they have no car sense. The most common cause of death for the Basenji is being hit by a car. It is true that the Basenji doesn’t bark, and it is a quiet breed most of the time. But he is not silent. The Basenji can be loud when he wants to be. He can crow like a young rooster, whimper, and whine. He has a loud growl when he needs one and he actually yodels when he’s happy. He also wails when he’s unhappy. The Basenji is affectionate, but not as demonstrative as other breeds. He loves his human family, but can be aloof with strangers, so early socialization is important. Because he doesn’t bark, he is not a watchdog in the traditional sense, but he is alert and will make noise to let you know if something is wrong. He is also naturally protective of his family, especially children. While many Basenjis have lived successfully with children, it is a tricky situation. Most Basenjis show a particular affection for children. However, many Basenjis will not tolerate being abused by children and may bite to defend themselves if the child is teasing or inadvertently frustrating them. Also, Basenjis are a dominant breed and tend to think of children as their equals. They may try to dominate children by nipping at them. They are truly a people dog. The Basenji will crave your attention and if he doesn’t get it, he can be destructive. They usually like to get into the trash and play with fresh rolls of toilet paper. They do not like to be left alone for hours at a time and if they get lonely, they might dig or chew, or simply eat your sofa. Most Basenjis get along well with other pets, though they shouldn’t be trusted around birds or rodents. Male Basenjis can be aggressive toward other male dogs. The Basenji is a unique breed: intriguing, engaging and complex. They can be charming and trying at the same time. They are incurably inquisitive and can be mischievous. They are meticulous about their cleanliness, constantly grooming themselves. They can’t stand being dirty. They don’t like water either and may refuse to walk in the rain. This is a challenging breed, but for those pet owners who have taken on the challenge, they swear the Basenji is the best companion a person could have.
The Basenji is the hardest to train of all dog breeds. He learns new commands slower than all other breeds. You will need to be extra patient when Training him.
The Basenji sheds a fair amount of hair. You’ll find hair stuck to your couch, carpets, clothes and everything else in your home.
The short coat of the Basenji only requires an occasional brushing. But because he sheds you may find yourself brushing him once or twice a week to remove loose hair. (What you get out with a brush doesn’t fall out in your home!)