Learning about Basenji Breed.

This is my first post in this forum. I am thinking of getting a Basenji puppy in late 2021. The reason for not getting one now is that I have never had a pet before and I will be a first-time dog owner. Also, at present, my working hours are a bit long and irregular. Next year my working hours will be more flexible (8 hours a day Monday to Friday).
I live in Malta Europe where the climate is typically Mediterranean, with mild, rainy winters (January and February), and hot, sunny summers. We are a family of 5 and live in a large apartment with two well-sized balconies and a private adequate-sized roof.
The most important thing right now is for me to read as much as I can about this dog breed. I have been reading about various dog breeds, but now I have narrowed the list to three, that is, Basenji; Shiba Inu; and Bordoodle (Border Collie & Poodle Mix). Two considered as hard to train dogs and one which is more obedient and easier to train. However, I am more inclined towards the Basenji, despite being known as a stubborn and non-affectionate breed.
Until I make my final decision, I hope that with my research and with your input in this forum, I will have enough material to know whether I am good enough to take care of a Basenji. I am a strong believer that it is not a question as to whether the Basenji is a good breed for a first-time dog owner, but if the owner is committed enough to devote enough time to take care of the Basenji.
So far, I have read enough articles that would put a lot of people away from ever owning a Basenji, because there seem to be more difficult and negative aspects in going for this type of breed, rather than to choose an easier breed and continue with a normal life.

Please go to the Basenji Club of America to learn more about the breed if you have not already. Try to find someone that might be in your area to visit or talk to about the breed. Try to find a breeder and talk to them about the breed. Same for Shiba Inu... and for what it is worth, I have been in this breed (Basenjis) for 30+ years... they are NOT Stubborn nor are they NOT affectionate.... Basenjis (and Shiba's for that matter) are thinking dogs... they respond to positive training and reward owners with the same. Basenji people refer to Shiba's as a Basenji with hair... Shiba people refer to Basenjis as Shiba without hair... LOL. I would highly suggest that a mix is not a good choice. Poodles have lots of health issues as to Border Collies (if you go to AKC.org read about health on both breeds), with a mix you never know what you will get. In the end they are a mixed breed, they are not a purebred dog. Border Collies need a job (as they are a herding breed) and if not given one they will make up one.... Poodles at one time were (and many still are) a sporting dog...

last edited by tanza

Thought I would throw my $0.37 in (inflation you know) I have never owned a dog before. I grew up with one (a purebred mutt) but it was my dads and I rarely interacted with him. My B-dog's name is Zaki and I will share a bit of what has happend so far. We got him at 12 weeks, that was a little over three weeks ago. I am his alpha, and he really gets upset if I leave for any amount of time. But because of that I have had a very easy(relative) time of training him. I have taught him to shake hands, sit, come, walk next to me on a leash and when he needs to go out and do his business, we have tied a bell on a string to the door that leads out into the back yard, and he rings the bell.

We have struggled with his bitting, my son and wife REALLY don't like it when he goes into bit mode. I grab his nose squeeze tight, not enough to inflict pain, make him look at me and with my drill sergeant voice I say "no bite, no bite" now when he wants to bite me all I have to do is call his name and say "no bite" and hand him something else to chew on. This is working, slowly. He is as smart as most of the teenagers I teach and gets bored very easily so I have to find new and interesting ways to play, teach and entertain. All said, the work was hard but the rewards keep coming.

I have been around others who have all kinds of different dogs, but I wouldn't trade my Zaki for any of them. If you have the time and patience your experience will be well worth the effort. Good luck with your choice.

@slents said in Learning about Basenji Breed.:

Thought I would throw my $0.37 in (inflation you know) I have never owned a dog before. I grew up with one (a purebred mutt) but it was my dads and I rarely interacted with him. My B-dog's name is Zaki and I will share a bit of what has happend so far. We got him at 12 weeks, that was a little over three weeks ago. I am his alpha, and he really gets upset if I leave for any amount of time. But because of that I have had a very easy(relative) time of training him. I have taught him to shake hands, sit, come, walk next to me on a leash and when he needs to go out and do his business, we have tied a bell on a string to the door that leads out into the back yard, and he rings the bell.

We have struggled with his bitting, my son and wife REALLY don't like it when he goes into bit mode. I grab his nose squeeze tight, not enough to inflict pain, make him look at me and with my drill sergeant voice I say "no bite, no bite" now when he wants to bite me all I have to do is call his name and say "no bite" and hand him something else to chew on. This is working, slowly. He is as smart as most of the teenagers I teach and gets bored very easily so I have to find new and interesting ways to play, teach and entertain. All said, the work was hard but the rewards keep coming.

I have been around others who have all kinds of different dogs, but I wouldn't trade my Zaki for any of them. If you have the time and patience your experience will be well worth the effort. Good luck with your choice.

I think you have done really well with your pup, however that said I disagree with grabbing his nose for biting... IMO of the breed for over 30+ years.... yelping and telling them NO... turning away and then replacing with a better choice is a much better training method... that said the entire family needs to be doing the same.

I have a six year old Basenji female and I have never had a more affectionate dog. She loves to be petted, lay in my lap and have her belly rubbed. At night she sleeps under the covers with me and some part of he body has to be touchiing mine. Basenjis were tribal dogs in Africa and were very loyal to their masters who fed them.

Tanza, if I am not mistaken, you posted a wonderfully handy description of basenjis, including their good traits and not so good traits. Please post it again for new owners. Prospective buyers: a reliable breeder will tell you all about a basenji, the good and the not so good. Don't buy from someone who has only good things to say. This HONEST advice would apply to any purebred dogs.

I have owned three basenjis, two tris and one b/w, all born in Sweden, where we lived for many years. I wish I'd had your list back then for our first B but we finally "worked things out" with him. I have another dog now, a rescue Sheltie, and I love him dearly but I do miss all the things that make Bs so special. My first two lived to be 15.5; the last one was 16.5 she passed away. Wonderful years with all three.

You seem to have heard negative things about the Basenji. It is certainly untrue that they are not affectionate. They certainly are and are not stubborn Tanza is correct and always comes up with the right answers to queries such as yours. Please listen to her she has years of experience, I too have many years of experience with this beloved and interesting breed and totally agree with her. I hate to hear the advice to squeeze their noses to stop them biting. Firstly I should say please don't take on a pup who is too young to leave his mother and litter siblings. It is here where they learn that biting actually can hurt. This is your first step to stopping biting. Then , as Tanza says yelp and tell them no and turn away. Offer them a satisfactory alternative. In my experience if this doesn't work it is because the wrong noise has been used. You'll soon learn which noise is effective. Never turn it into a battle. You are approaching this in the right way - plenty of research and forward planning.

Hard to improve on this Zande page: http://www.zandebasenjis.com/inform.htm

But you also have to realize that all dogs are individuals, so how much a given Basenji does or does not conform to the expected behaviors is always a question.

last edited by DonC

Thank you for your valuable feedback. During these last couple of days, I learned a lot about the Basenji breed. Still, a long way to go even though so far I have not managed to obtain details of Basenji breeders in Malta. I am sure that there are some people living in Malta who own a Basenji but the number is probably low.
It seems to be a rare breed, and this is not just in Malta. I think that there is a lack of 'correct' and 'reliable' information about Basenjis on the net. For instance, some say they are one of the most intelligent breeds. Many others say that they are listed as the worst when it comes to obedience intelligence. From what I gather, the word intelligence is being widely misused.
It is also recommended that this breed should not be left alone at home alone while the owner is at work. Other say that the basenji is an independent breed and will do well if they are left at home alone, (some say even for a duration of 8 hours) provided they feel comfortable and have all the necessities available.
I think that one of the main problems with people staying away from this breed is the negative characteristics of Basenjis given on various websites (e.g. not obedient, chews and damage everything at home, etc.).
I think that we should focus only on reliable websites from where we get information. Maybe some of you who really know the subject could indicate which sites people, researching this breed, should look at and which are those sites that we should avoid. Otherwise, it is total confusion.

This forum is probably one of the best sources of information about Basenjis. There are enough people on here who own or have owned them, and a range of experience to answer your questions. Even here you will find differences of opinion about Basenji temperament and best training methods. Absolutely true that the word "intelligence" is poorly defined, as dogs such as the Basenji may understand perfectly well what you want, but be disinclined to do what they are told. The trick is to find what motivates them to do as you ask, which is one of the challenges with the breed.

As far as being destructive, that can be a problem with any breed of dog. Many do not do well with confinement and long absences of their owners, and I think part of the problem is the way our lives have changed over the years. Once upon a time it was common for someone to be home during the day (usually but not always the woman) and dogs were not abandoned for hours at a time. As with any dog, Basenjis may become accustomed to a routine and content to be alone for longer as they get older, but you cannot count on it. Personally I don't think it is a good plan with any dog to be absent for long periods of time, although this can work better with multiple dogs as they have each other for company.

@eaglet I feel compelled to share my experience with you as back in ‘96 when we got out first basenji female. I had done my research, so I knew what I was getting into. I had 1 rule, ‘no dogs on the bed’. I lasted 45 minutes that first night, before I placed her in the bed under the covers by my feet, a place she slept for 16 years. She was a joy, a little lady. So when the breeder had another litter we decided to get a little boy. I never even pretended he wasn’t sleeping in the bed between us. BUT and it’s a big BUT, they couldn’t have been more different in personality! He was an imp, monkey, thief, mischief seeker, a clown, and at times exasperating. But for ALL his shannigans, he was my heart dog. At 16 he stole the roasted chicken off the kitchen counter when my back was turned! We got a companion former show dog when our 1st female passed. She was 8 1/2 when we go her. She was sensitive and shy. She was no trouble at all. We got her a companion when our 1st male passed. We were his 4th home, due to biting issues at 6 1/2. He’s been with us for 7 years. He required a lot of desensitizing to several issues, especially touching his collar. We thought there was something wrong with him as he only wanted 1 walk a day. Had his thyroid checked, blood work done, nope, he’s just lazy. Here’s my point with basenjis, you don’t know if you are going to get a high or low maintenance personality. There are so many negatives out there because we don’t want to see them have to be rehomed due to issues like destruction, or biting. I had to reupholster my couch 2 times, thankfully I sew. I fell in love with the breed, and I’m willing to do ANYTHING my dog needs me to do for their health and well being. If you decide to get a basenji, you must have a sense of humor, waterproof mattress cover, patience, love, plus the willingness to accept sometimes they outsmart you. Yes, they can be frustratingly smart, but the rewards far out weigh the negatives, IMHO.

I have an almost 5 month old male basengi. There are some difficulties training him; this can be said of all dogs. However, I would like to address your "affectionate" issue. One of the reasons, I chose a Basengi is the affection and love they show for their "person". Prince chose me at the breeder--he made it clear he wanted me to take him home. He loves me to death -- lots of puppy kisses (lots of puppy nips,too). He loves to climb on my lap for naps and now has to settle for the sofa on a blanket next to me with his head or butt at the case may be on my lap for his lovies, cuddles, and strokes because his legs are too long to fit. He is very loving and so happy to give and receive it...this has increased with his age. I have no idea what the future will bring with him, but right now he is all that I asked for and more in the affection/love area.

@daureen - I will also say that my C-Me picked me... note however that most all responsible breeders will pick the pup for the home.. this is why breeders want to know all about the home/family/lifestyle, we want them to be in their forever homes... that said there are exceptions.. in my case this was a puppy back from a breeding... I had the choice of the 5 bitches in the litter but from the moment that I went in the house, this was the pup that came to me and didn't want to leave. LOL... and in some cases there could be two that are about the same and would fit the family... then they have a choice. My C-Me was a great choice and while there were others in the litter that was maybe a bit nicer as a show puppy, but I could not turn away from this girl that picked me... She is a Dual Champion and whelped a wonderful litter... And she is a loving girl to all in the family

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