Animal stories: basenji

Basenjis are the small sized dogs with distinctive tightly curled tail. Their wedge shaped face with the wrinkled forehead is also peculiar to the breed. They are elegant, athletic dogs with white feet and white on chest and tip of the tail. Their eyes are small and almond shaped. The ears are straight and open in the front. These dogs can sometimes give the impression that they are quite worried about something due to their naturally furrowed brow.

Basenjis do not bark, but do have a lot of other unusual vocalizations. They may yodel, howl, growl or crow, depending on their mood. They are affectionate, demanding, energetic and curious. They love to play and make a good pet but they have to be handled regularly from an early age. They are usually patient, but do best with older considerate children. They dislike wet weather. They like to chew, so giving them lots of toys of their own would be a good idea. These breeds like to climb and can easily get over chain wire fences. They can be reserved with stranger but can also form strong bonds with people.

Average size

They are 16-17 inches tall and weigh 9-12 kg.

Coat colour

Their smooth coat comes in colours like chestnut red, black and tri-colours. All coats have the white markings on the chest, feet, tip of the tail and as a blaze on the forehead.


Basenjis are alert and intelligent but are at the same time spirited and anxious. This personality combination makes them a challenge to train. They should be socialised early, especially with other dogs, as there is a breed tendency to fight. These breeds will never excel in obedience competitions but can be gently shown the way to fit in the role of a family pet.

Food requirements

They can generally be fed a normal dog food diet. However, Basenjis will steal any food that is left lying around, and as a result, can quickly become overweight.


They have a lifetime of around 10-12 years.

Pet grooming

They need to be groomed once a week. The coat can be wiped down with a glove from time to time to remove loose hairs. Ears and nails can be checked periodically. They wash themselves like a cat and have no doggie smell, so very little grooming is needed. This is a good dog for people with allergies.