Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Basenjis: the most honest dog breed review you'll ever find about Basenji temperament, personality, and behavior.

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Basenji dog breed

Basenji Temperament
What's Good About 'Em,
What's Bad About 'Em

Basenji Temperament, Personality, Behavior, Traits, and Characteristics, by Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2016

The AKC Standard says, "Elegant and graceful, his whole demeanor is one of poise and inquiring alertness."

High-spirited and endlessly curious, the dapper, light-footed Basenji demands to be in on everything.

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.

This dog is too busy and inquisitive to be left loose and unsupervised in your house or yard.

Don't let him off the leash, for he is a swift, agile chaser who is impossible to catch.

You must stay one step ahead of this thinking breed, for he uses his keen intelligence in clever, sometimes manipulative ways that suit his own purposes. Consistent leadership is a must.

Basenjis are intriguing in that they are physically unable to bark. Yet their wariness of strangers, inherent distrust of anything new or different, territorial instincts, acute senses, and canny intuition all combine to make them vigilant watchdogs. And they do whine, growl, chortle, yodel, and scream, so they are far from soundless.

If you want a dog who...

  • Is conveniently-sized
  • Combines sturdiness with litheness and elegance
  • Moves with a graceful, light-footed gait
  • Has a soft easy-care coat in striking colors
  • Doesn't shed much
  • Is extremely alert and makes a keen watchdog
  • Is easy to housebreak

A Basenji may be right for you.

If you don't want to deal with...

  • High activity level
  • Providing enough exercise and activities to keep him busy
  • Massive destructiveness when bored or left alone too much
  • Suspiciousness toward strangers
  • Aggression toward other animals -- strong chasing instincts
  • Escape attempts and running away
  • Strong-willed mind of his own, requiring a confident owner who can take charge

A Basenji may not be right for you.

But you can avoid or minimize some negative traits by
  1. choosing the RIGHT breeder and the RIGHT puppy
  2. or choosing an ADULT dog from your animal shelter or rescue group – a dog who has already proven that he doesn't have negative traits
  3. training your dog to respect you
  4. avoiding health problems by following my daily care program in 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy

More traits and characteristics of the Basenji

If I was considering a Basenji, I would be most concerned about...

  1. Providing enough exercise and mental stimulation. Basenjis are active go-getters who were bred to hunt. They MUST have regular opportunities to vent their energy and to use their busy minds to do interesting things. Otherwise they will become rambunctious and bored -- which they usually express by destructive chewing. Bored Basenjis are famous for chewing through drywall, ripping the stuffing out of sofas, and turning your yard into a moonscape of craters.

    I strongly recommend that you get your Basenji involved in obedience classes at the intermediate or advanced level, in agility (an obstacle course for dogs) or in lure coursing (chasing a mechanized lure around a track or across an open field).

  2. Suspiciousness toward strangers. Standoffish by nature, Basenjis need extensive exposure to people and to unusual sights and sounds. Otherwise their natural caution can become suspiciousness, which is difficult to live with and could even lead to biting.

  3. Animal aggression. Many Basenjis are dominant or aggressive toward other dogs of the same sex. Many have strong instincts to chase and seize small fleeing creatures. This can make for conflict if you own a cat. It may be much worse than that if you own a pet rabbit or hamster!

    Basenjis cannot be trusted off-leash. They will take off -- oblivious to your frantic shouts -- after anything that runs.

  4. Fence security. Many Basenjis are clever escape artists who will go over or under fences in search of adventure. To keep your Basenji in, you may need higher fences than you might imagine for their small size. You may also need to sink wire into the ground along the fence line to thwart digging. Gates should have the highest quality locks.

  5. The strong temperament. Basenjis have an independent mind of their own and are not pushovers to raise and train. They can be manipulative, and many are willful, obstinate, and dominant (they want to be the boss) and will make you prove that you can make them do things. You must show them, through absolute consistency, that you mean what you say.

    To teach your Basenji to listen to you, "Respect Training" is mandatory. My Basenji Training Page discusses the program you need.

  6. Health problems. You need to be aware of such health problems as eye diseases and a serious kidney disease called Fanconi.

book cover To learn more about training Basenjis to be calm and well-behaved, consider my dog training book, Teach Your Dog 100 English Words.

It's a unique Vocabulary and Respect Training Program that will make your Basenji the smartest, most well-behaved companion you've ever had.

Teaches your dog to listen to you, to pay attention to you, and to do whatever you ask him to do.

book cover My dog buying guide, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, will teach you everything you need to know about finding a healthy Basenji. Health problems have become so widespread in dogs today that this book is required reading for ANYONE who is thinking of getting a purebred, crossbred, or mixed breed dog.

If you'd like to consult with me personally about whether the Basenji might be a good dog breed for your family, I offer a Dog Breed Consulting Service.

book cover Once you have your Basenji home, you need to KEEP him healthy -- or if he's having any current health problems, you need to get him back on the road to good health.

My dog health care book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy is the book you need.

Raise your dog the right way and you will be helping him live a longer, healthier life while avoiding health problems and unnecessary veterinary expenses.

Please consider adopting an ADULT Basenji...

When you're acquiring a Basenji PUPPY, you're acquiring potential -- what he one day will be. So "typical breed characteristics" are very important.

But when you acquire an adult dog, you're acquiring what he already IS and you can decide whether he is the right dog for you based on that reality. There are plenty of adult Basenjis who have already proven themselves NOT to have negative characteristics that are "typical" for their breed. If you find such an adult dog, don't let "typical breed negatives" worry you. Just be happy that you found an atypical individual -- and enjoy!

Save a life. Adopt a dog.

Adopting a Dog From a Dog Breed Rescue Group

Adopting a Dog From the Animal Shelter