The Basenji is a hunting dog that originated in central Africa. It is considered a hound, more specifically in the sight hound family. Due to its unusually shaped larynx the Basenji does not bark as a normal dog would, it produces an unusual yodel-like sound. The breed can mimic sounds and is able to bark if raised around other barking dogs. Some say they have a cat-like temperament. They are prized for their intelligence, speed, courage, silence and hunting ability.
The Basenji typically stands about 17 inches tall and weighs between 22 to 24 pounds. It is a square breed, athletic and powerful. The gait of a Basenji looks like that of a horse. It is a small short-haired dog with a wrinkled forehead, almond eyes, a graceful neck, and a tightly curled tail. It is an elegant yet athletic dog. Its coat can be red, black, tricolor or brindle, and any of these with white. There are other variations that are not registered standards such as trundle, shaded red, liver, and piebald.
The Basenji is one of the most ancient dog breeds, and it had almost disappeared in 1895 when Europeans came across it in the Congo. There were many futile attempts to breed the dog in England which was not a successful venture until the 1930s. Nearly all Basenjis in the world are descended from these imports.
The median lifespan of the Basenji is 13.6 years, although the breed has been known to live 17 years or longer. The most common health issues for the Basenji are dermatologic and urologic. The urologic issues can be signs of a more serious health problem, Fanconi syndrome.
Fanconi Syndrome is very common in Basenjis. Symptoms of Fanconi Syndrome include excessive urination with glucose in the urine and excessive drinking. The disorder is inherited, with it the kidneys of the Basenji fail to reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients. Basenji owners are advised to rest their dog’s urine for glucose once a month beginning at 3 years of age. Since 2007 predictive tests have been available that can more accurately determine the probability of the dog carrying the gene associated with Fanconi Syndrome.
The Basenji can also be stricken with Hemolytic Anemia, hip dysplasia, anorexia, chronic diarrhea, retinal atrophy and other eye problems.