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What is a Basenji? Discover this great breed

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The Basenji is a long in leg, athletic breed, bred for hunting vermin.

This breed originates in Central Africa where it was bred for the purpose of hunting and destroying vermin. It is a member of the ‘sighthound’ group, hunting predominantly by vision as opposed to scent. The long legs and muscular body make for a racy, energetic dog that can run at a good pace over most terrain.

History of the Basenji

It is thought that the Basenji is one of the oldest breeds as drawings of this type of dog have been found in ancient Egypt thought to be around 2000 years before the birth of Christ.

This type of dog was used to hunt small game by tracking the animals and driving them out into nets where they could be captured.

In the early twentieth century several Basenjis were brought to England from Africa but they all died from quarantine injections but by the 1930s the dog was established in the UK and a short time later in the United States.

The modern Basenji originates from the stock that came to the UK and USA, very few, if any dogs, have direct ties back to Africa.

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Basenji temperament

The Basenji is a classic example of a hunting dog in terms of character and temperament.

The breed is an alert and energetic animal that is friendly and investigative yet is cautious and wary of strangers.

Basenjis are loyal dogs who tend to become attached to a single person rather than a wide collection of people and tend to dislike non canine pets, although they get along well with other dogs.

Originating from Africa, the Basenji dislikes rain and cold weather, and will stubbornly refuse to leave the house whenever conditions are bad.

The breed is clever and athletic and enjoys climbing, they have been known to climb chain link fencing and are frequent escapers from kennels and dog compounds and runs.

Basenjis are ‘sighthounds; and this is often displayed in their tendency to stand up on their back legs, particularly when the dog is curious or is trying to see further.

According to the ‘Intelligence of Dogs‘ they are the second least trainable dog breed.

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  • English (Publication Language)
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Is a Basenji a good family dog?

The Basenji is an active dog that needs a good daily bout of exercise to burn off his energy. 

As a hunting dog Basenjis love to chase and care should be taken when out and about as if they see ‘prey’ they can be after it in a flash. This can include next door’s cat.

Basenjis enjoy family life and are loyal dogs that can be very protective if the need arises. It is important to spend as much time as possible with the dog when he is younger to ensure that he is well socialised and is comfortable around a variety of people.

Do Basenjis shed a lot?

Basenjis are clean dogs that spend long periods of time grooming themselves, in fact their attention to self care is similar to that of a cat.

A Basenji will shed hair, all dogs do, but, as a shorthaired dog with a fine coat, the amount of hair that he loses will be minimal and, unlike some breeds such as Setters, will be difficult to see and notice.

The ongoing cycle of self grooming that Basenjis adopt helps to keep shedding to a minimum and the breed is a very clean dog.

Is a Basenji a good first dog?

For a new dog owner there are other breeds that are better suited.

The sighthound group of dogs is one that is populated with breeds that are notoriously difficult to train and a Basenji may be too much for someone new to the world of dogs and dog training.

That does not mean that it is not possible for a person new to dogs to own a Basenji, it simply means that you will need to be prepared for a challenging journey as an owner and trainer.

There are breeds that are less skitty and that are easier and more amenable to training.

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