The Basenji is a small to medium-sized dog breed that hails from Central Africa, known for its unique qualities, including a distinctive yodel-like sound, often referred to as a ""barroo,"" and a somewhat cat-like personality. The Basenji breed is an ancient one, believed to have origins in Central Africa, particularly in regions like the Congo Basin. The breed is famously associated with the ancient Egyptians who revered the Basenji-like dogs. In fact, tomb carvings and sculptures dating back to the Old Kingdom around 4,000 years ago depict dogs that strongly resemble the Basenji. These ancient dogs were cherished as gifts and were known for their hunting skills.
Basenjis are generally healthy dogs, but like all breeds, genetic screening is recommended. They may suffer from hypothyroidism, immunoproliferative small intestinal disease (IPSID), and hip dysplasia. Genetic testing for these and other conditions such as Fanconi syndrome, progressive retinal atrophy, pyruvate kinase deficiency, and spinocerebellar ataxia can assist veterinarians with diagnosis and proactive care, as well as help breeders identify affected and carrier dogs.
Basenjis are known for being intelligent, independent, and somewhat aloof. They can be reserved with strangers but tend to form strong bonds with their families. Due to their intelligence, they can be challenging to train and need consistent, positive reinforcement methods.
Despite their smaller size, they have high energy levels and need plenty of exercises. Without it, they may resort to destructive behaviors out of boredom. They also have a strong prey drive and may not be suitable for homes with small pets. While the Basenji can be a loving and loyal breed, they may not be the best choice for first-time dog owners due to their independent nature and need for consistent training.
The Basenji is known as the "barkless dog", but they do make a yodeling sound called a "barroo" when they get excited. They do still make other typical dog sounds, including whining and growling.
This breed is also known for its cat-like personality.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, explorers noted the existence of these dogs and their unique characteristics. However, it wasn't until the 1930s that the breed was successfully brought to England and later to America, where it was formally recognized by the American Kennel Club (AKC) in 1943.