Is a Basenji the right dog for me?

I've been looking for a little companion to take with me on my early journey and it was hard to find the right dog... until I found these little guys.

Their personality seems like it's similar to mine. Curious, athletic, and independent. However, I have a few things to contend with. While the exercise is going to be easy to manage, I don't want to come home to an apartment that has been destroyed. To be clear, I am looking for a puppy. I understand a lot of people strongly stand by adoption, and I'm not against it, but I want a puppy for my first dog. I want to grow up with her as I go into the next crucial years of my life.

This will be MY first dog. I had a dog as a kid (Puggle is still kickin with the parents) but if I'm being honest I didn't do much as far as care for him. Sure, I fed him, walked him, and picked up his business; but that's pretty much it.

I'm 24 and in college living with 3 other guys in a decent sized apartment (I was prior military so I'm better off than the average college lad financially. I felt like it was important to mention because I want to alleviate any concerns towards care, food, ect). I have a large room as well as a living room and large open kitchen. I will be going to law school after next year. This makes the decision harder but the desire stronger. I'd love to have a study buddy and Basenji's also sound like they're cool with doing their own thing sometimes, which is perfect.

So my first concern is leaving the dog alone at my place while I'm at class or in the gym. I need to be able to leave it here for let's say, 8 hours at a time to be safe. With proper training, could this be a possibility with a Basenji? Will it yodel all day long in my apartment and annoy the entire building? Will it chew through ever cord I have running along the floor? Can/should I crate her (I'd rather let her go free because I'd feel less bad about leaving her home)?

Second, I am allergic to dogs. When searching for a pup, this was my top priority. My puggle, when I was a kid, for instance, was fine as long as I didnt snuggle up to him. If I played with him or pet him all crazy I'd have a hard time breathing and I'd get hives if I didn't wash my hands and arms or take a shower right after. Zyrtech reliably negates my allergies but I don't want to live on it. Puggles, if you're unfamiliar, shed quite a bit and are considered pretty bad for allergies. However, I have spent time with a poodle something mix (a little rat dog, not my type haha) and had no issues whatsoever. I read that Basenji's clean themselves often and have short hair (Am I going to be listening to that moist lapping noise all night?) Which is great for people with allergies.

As long as the little fella isn't going to eat all my possessions, yell at my neighbors all day, or slam my respiratory system shut, I think we could be a great match.

I like that they're stubborn, curious, and energetic as well as territorial. People have to earn my trust and now I'd have a little guy giving strangers the stink eye with me! The more I read about Basenji's the more they remind me of myself, and I think that's a good thing. Thank you for taking the time to read this and all responses are greatly appreciated!

Edit: I'd also love breeder recommendations! I'm not sure what I'm looking for online and I'd rather ask than make a mistake. I just want a healthy pup, nothing crazy.

last edited by Johnnyr56

You should consider visiting with a breeder/owners and spend time with them in person to learn more about them. Where are you located? Also Basenjis are sometimes good for people with allergies BUT they do shed and they do have dander which is typically what sets off allergies.

@tanza I'm in central Illinois! I tried finding breeders around me. There were only 3. Two had outdated websites and one didn't have a website at all.

@johnnyr56 8 hours is a long time to leave a basenji. Although they are independent, they demand attention too. #1 thing for basenjis is to be with the family.

If you walk the dog for a couple of miles before the crate and a couple of miles when you get home, then maybe it might work.

Sounds like you would be far better off with a different dog though. If you give a basenji enough walks and mental stimulation, they are good. If not they can become one dog wrecking teams, including eating through walls, doors and even metal crates. They also tend to make a lot of noise in the crates.

My advice for your situation is go with a different dog, basenjis are challenging and would probably fit better with your lifestyle later in life.

Our Basenji is 10 and a great house dog but we couldn’t trust her out of her crate until she was 6 years old. Even then, it was a dog door and securely fenced yard that made her happy. When she was younger and crated she couldn’t go more than 6 hrs without needing to relieve herself. Thus, we used to take her to doggy day care on our work days which leads to a considerable expense

Basenjis, like many dogs can be destructive especially if they are not mentally and physically stimulated. It sounds like you can give her the exercise and they will make great jogging companions. Mine used to run 3-4 miles a day with me and not skip a beat. I now take her hunting with me which has been awesome. She is in her primal element for hours and will return happily exhausted.

They are cool dogs but there are definitely other breeds that are athletic, intelligent, and less stubborn.

I have the same allergy symptoms with most dogs and it can get pretty bad, but Basenjis don’t bother me at all. I’ve had 3 (1 passed, 2 still with me) and none of them ever gave me an allergic reaction

I’ve also just spent the last 7+ months raising a basenji puppy and it’s definitely not something to be taken lightly lol. I mean our bond is extremely strong (so strong that her recall is actually AWESOME, which is practically unheard of for Basenjis, especially 10 month old Basenjis haha) but potty training was rough, and there was no way I could leave her alone for 8 hours without her having an accident (maybe I could now, but only in an emergency, not something I would feel comfortable doing on a regular basis) - I’ve started leaving her out of the crate for small periods of time with no people home, but she’s living with three other dogs so she has plenty of company. Otherwise I could see her being ultra destructive, even with tons of toys to chew. Even when I am home, if she gets bored she’ll sneak off and find something to destroy that she shouldn’t.

If you reconsidered the adult dog thing, an older basenji could potentially be ok in those circumstances! I have a 12 year old male basenji that will still happily go on 2-3 mile hikes every day and would keep going if I let him haha, but is just as happy to snooze on the couch or chew a a toy or otherwise occupy himself for hours. Obviously you aren’t looking for a senior, just saying that they are tough little guys that are always up for adventures well into their adult years, without the puppy craziness.

We adopted our first female basenji when she was 3 years old and she was always gentle and never destructive, would happily lay around in the sun while we were gone and be ready for a walk or hike when we returned (though I think we just lucked out and ended up with the most perfect, well behaved basenji ever as our first basenji haha). And her bond with us was incredibly strong, even though we didn’t have her as a puppy. A 3-4 year old would still give you 10+ years to build a bond and to have her by your side, and wouldn’t have the same issues as a basenji puppy. I’m actually really glad my first basenji wasn’t a puppy, cuz I definitely would have not been prepared for that. I only considered a puppy after 10 years of living with basenjis, and even then it was really, really hard. But I also understand the desire for a puppy. Good luck! I hope you find the right buddy 😊

Edit: oh, also, sometimes breeders have adults available for adoption! Ex show dogs or dogs returned to them for some reason. Could be something to look into - also in that case the breeder will have lots of info on their history and disposition and stuff, so you’ll kind of have a cheat sheet going into it

last edited by theresab

I'm glad you are doing some research before running out and getting the first Basenji that you can... but, a lot of your questions can't be answered: I'm pretty sure that none of us can see the future... None of us can tell you if you are going to be allergic to a Basenji, or if your dog is going to keep you awake at night, or if your dog is going to chew (specifically) the electrical cords (btw, puppies chew everything), or if your dog will annoy your neighbors.

But, you can control much of this.
@tanza is right, visit someone who has Basenji's and find out if you are allergic to them. Check with your local Kennel Club, Veteranarians, or Dog Trainers -- it's almost certain that you will find someone who can help you find out if you are or aren't allergic to this breed.

Be prepared to wake up during the night (at first). Puppies have small bladders. A midnight dash outside shouldn't be unexpected. Decide now if your dog will be welcome to sleep on the bed, on a dog bed nearby, or in a crate. Puppies are quieter when they sleep with you. If you choose a crate, place a blanket over it when it's bedtime. If it's a dog bed.... put one of your dirty gym shirts on it so the pup can smell you and feel like you are nearby. (You might not get that shirt back)

Chewing? Yep, puppies chew. Keep your place clean. Put your shoes in the bedroom closet. Then close the door. Pay attention. If your dog is showing curiousity about something they shouldn't be messing with, very firmly, say "no!". You do not have to strike the pup, or yell at them. A firm "no!" is usually enough. Then distract the pup by providing a toy or a game that is okay.

Is your dog going to annoy the neighbors? Most certainly! Your neighbors are going to be beside themselves with questions about this little pup. I have people pull up alongside me at traffic lights, "What kind of dog is that? How do you spell that? Is the breeder local?" OMGosh! Has no one else discovered "Google"? 😃 Noise is the least of your concerns.

Whatever breed you end up with... give your dog attention, exercise, good food, plenty of water, and make sure that it feels loved and safe.

Based on what you have written I would say a Basenji is not a good choice at this time, particularly not a puppy. Actually, a puppy of any breed is not a good choice in your circumstances. I understand the impulse. I got my first Basenji when I was still living with my parents, and I wanted her so very much. Despite all the support at home (my Mom would walk her when I couldn't be there) I did not have sufficient time to devote to such an active dog and I ended up rehoming her with a wonderful family, and kept in touch with them all of her life. I've since had four more Basenjis over the years and they are wonderful dogs, but I would never consider having one if I had to leave it for eight hours at a time, and certainly not a pup in those circumstances. A settled, mature adult might conceivably work, but even then it is not a sure thing. These dogs are "independent" only in that they want to do things their way, but they require company and don't do well if left alone for long periods of time. Separation anxiety is a common problem and difficult to deal with. Save yourself and the dog a lot of grief, and postpone you Basenji experience until you are more settled, unless you can afford doggie daycare or hire someone to visit and walk your pup.

I agree with all the comments made by the other contributors of this forum. Even though my basenji has free run of my home and she’s not destructive and has access to a doggie door - I would NEVER leave her alone for 8 hours.
My husband recently asked me if I’d get another basenji and I really am not sure. I love my dog as if she were my own child and she brings me such joy and happiness - that said it takes a tremendous amount of commitment and responsibility to give this breed what they deserve. As I get older, I don’t know if I can give a basenji what they need and deserve. I walk Kembe EVERY day - 2 to 3 Xs a day - for a total of 3- 5 miles - they need to be physically and mentally stimulated and challenged. When it rains or snows, I drive her to an underpass where I walk her (when it’s raining or snowing - she makes a beeline to my vehicle - she knows). In fact she KNOWS everything that goes own in our house because she watches and listens to EVERYTHING we do. Basenjis are an incredible breed, I’m glad you’re doing your homework and asking the right questions.

@johnnyr56 - Go to www.basenji.org and you can search for breeders by state. Even if a breeder is not close to you they would be able to hook you up with some of their puppy people for a possible visit. You can also find breeders/owners on facebook.

Even with a long walk before and after being left alone in a crate for 8 hours - I would be very against this treatment of ANY dog, let alone a Basenji. These are hunting dogs, not toys you can put in the cupboard when you don't want to (can't) play with them.

Wait a few years until you can give a Basenji the life it deserves. A great deal of life with a B is COMPROMISE (!) and in the scenario as you describe it, the Basenji would be the loser on all counts.

They are worth waiting for - believe me.

last edited by Zande

@zande said in Is a Basenji the right dog for me?:

Wait a few years until you can give a Basenji the life it deserves. A great deal of life with a B is COMPROMISE (!) and in the scenario as you describe it, the Basenji would be the loser on all counts.

........completely agree - It sounds like a Basenji would be a great dog for you but the timing just might not be right at this moment. A lot of things in life are based on timing. Base your decision on your head and not your heart. It sounds like you have a great future ahead of you and a good head on your shoulders! You’ll definitely have a basenji in your future!

last edited by Kembe

@zande - my only comment is that if you have to crate your pup because you don't have a secure area when you are not home... if crated during the day they should be loose after work and the evening/night... and as a young pup, you really need to be able to attend to them (feeding/walking) after about 4 hours tops... be that with you or a pet sitter...

Thank you all for the replies! As much as I'd like a dog right now, I think I agree with the timing issue. It sounds like Basenjis are quite a handful and I wouldn't be able to give it the life it deserves in my current situation. However, I am glad that I found a breed I look forward to owning and once I'm in a stable place I can make the move. I really appreciate the advice ladies and gentlemen!

I think you have made a wise decision. When your circumstances are such that you can rise to the challenges and rewards of a Basenji I hope you enjoy this truly remarkable breed. They are definitely not for the faint of heart, but if you have patience and a sense of humour they are endlessly entertaining and wonderful companions. With other breeds you can have a dog but a Basenji will change your life in unexpected ways. They become, if you will, a way of life. 😉

First, thank you for the honest evaluation of your situation.
Basenjis are dogs that consider who they live wit, to be part of their pack - family.

They only chew or destroy things when they are bored, or mad at you. (Yes, I know people will disagree, but I have had basenjis for 25 years and have witnessed this activity. This included one dog jumping on the table, with me sitting 3 feet away, and peeing in a circle, as if saying, "There, take that!”)

A young basenji, under say, 8 years, will do this when left alone for so long.
(Yes, I know people will disagree, but I have had basenjis for 25 years and have witnessed this activity. This included one dog jumping on the table, with me sitting 3 feet away, and peeing in a circle, as if saying, "There, take that!)

You write that you live with 3 roommates. You do not mention if this will change, so I will assume it will not. Personally, I think it is very unkind (to them AND the dog) of you to bring a basenji into this living arrangement. Unless ALL the roommates understand, and agree, to sharing their lives with a dog that will require so much of their time. The tiniest thing left on the floor could be destroyed, and could even harm the dog. Bathroom doors left open? A basenji might not be able to find anything as much fun, grab the toilet paper, and run. Fun, fun, fun!!! For the dog.

You are researching enough to show that you are checking really well to see if a basenji will fit into your life. In my opinion, not just yet. Maybe later when your life has settled a bit.

Oh, just remembered you mentioning you studying, the dog doing its thing. It might happen, but if the dog thinks your attention should be on him/her, you may not like that something.
Best of luck in your studies, and with where ever your life leads you!

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