Considered to be one of the most ancient and prehistoric canines, the Basenji's origins date back thousands of years to central Africa and are often depicted on the walls inside the tombs of ancient Egyptians. The earlier African tribes actually bred them to be pack hunters so they would drive smaller game into hidden traps. They make excellent pets and they love to play. However, they need to be attended to on a regular basis so a lot of patience is required of the owner.
During the 1800s, the Basenji breed was introduced to Britain, but most of the dog population fell victim to distemper and nearly died. They were re-introduced to England in the 1930's and became employed as a source for all future breeding of the dog. It was about this time in its history that it acquired the name Basenji which translates as "bush thing." Eventually, they would cross the Atlantic to American shores where they have become a popular breed.
The Basenji Personality
Basenjis are considered to be very affectionate as well as alert, curious, and energetic. They can be very aggressive, occasionally displaying the personality and temperament of a terrier, but they are also considered to be extremely bright, as well as curious, and intelligent tainted with a slight bit of stubbornness at times. Sometimes reserved in nature, they can display the independence characteristic of most felines. Their curiosity is typically exhibited when they stand on their hind legs, either supported or not, in order to see over something and looking similar in fashion to a meerkat.
Whenever it is afforded the opportunity, the Basenji will exhibit the disposition of a hunting dog like it was originally bred. On an interesting note, they are oftentimes referred to as "barkless", due primarily to their atypically shaped larynx which causes them to emit a yodeling sound rather than the normal bark. Overall, the personality of the Basenji makes them an excellent pet for households with or without children.
Caring for Your New Basenji
Basenjis are relatively easy to care for and when cared for properly, they rarely have any health issues. They do require exercise on a daily basis as was mentioned above, including both mental and physical. Chasing and fetching, along with other energetic games, are right up this breed's alley. Keep them indoors at night and let them roam outside during the daytime. If you have a large fenced-in back yard, this is the ideal environment. Just make sure that they have plenty of shade and water available during the hotter months of the year.
The Basenji can live up to 15 years with the average age being between 12 and 13 years overall. There are certain health issues that occasionally arise with the three major ones being Basenji enteropathy, Fanconi syndrome, and PRA. Minor health issues are hypothyroidism, PK, PPM, and umbilical hernias, but these are fairly rare in occurrence.