Considering a Basenji. Thoughts?

Zande, Guess I am lost because I frequently laugh with Prince, He makes my heart sing. He just looks at me, cocks his head, and I feel like he is thinking "I have done my good deed for the day". I absolutely a lot of his cooperation thus far is out of love...his bond and love for me so far is very strong. But that said, if he doesn't want to be near me, he will sit on the sofa at the other end and just look at me and refuse to come closer. I let him and cuddles are always on his terms. Generally, he will look at the ceiling, then at the floor, then over his back (this is when I laugh) and he will come up to me an flop down. All is right with my world.

Very hard not to laugh when they steal something and run off doing the victory trot!

@daureen as long as you realise you are lost, and are happy to be so, I'm sure you and Prince will get along fine. Basenjis are often aware they have done wrong and challenge you to pick up on it in the most delightful ways.

Which is why, when I had 8 of these house pe(s)ts, I would make a song and dance over little things and give the impression more serious misdemeanors didn't bother me in the slightest. We got along fine that way.

@italeigha said in Considering a Basenji. Thoughts?:

My husband is a marathoner

I picked the Basenji breed in part for a jogging companion. Not that I am doing any distance yet, but still... the other breed I considered was a Vizsla. Not sure which would win for distance/endurance...


I have lived with three basenjis. I acquired the first two in Sweden, a b/w male and a tri/female. The breeder was completely honest with me about what to expect. He told me all the good things and also the bad things, which included chewing. I don't know how many underpants and jeans' crotches the male chewed up but his actions didn't come as a surprise. After they outgrew puppy hood, they didn't play together very often but their antics, yodels, and beautiful selves brought us great joy. As someone else has mentioned, they are very affectionate, like to be warm and sleep under the covers. Unless they are hit by cars, basenjis tend to live well into their teens. Mine were 15 years old when they died.

My third basenji, Sasha, a tri female, was also bred in Sweden but spent her life in the States. I wanted a second dog so I went to the local Humane Society and found what turned out to be the perfect partner for Sasha. He was a mixed breed, probably had some beagle in him, and when they met, I knew that I had made the right decision. For 16+ years, they were inseparable, and neither one of them ever destroyed anything. They could spend hours chasing each other around the backyard and then once back in the house, they would lie down next to each other and go to sleep. Sasha was the alpha, and Dylan didn't mind.

They died within three months of each other. Dylan died first and Sasha, who was in fairly good health for her age, missed him so much that her health deteriorated. I think she died of a broken heart.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that I believe that basenjis can be only dogs but in that case they require a tremendous amount of exercise and stimulation. A companion dog can provide these things. An added bonus: when I left the house for any reason, they kept each other company.

Basenjis are not known for their ability to learn at the drop of a hat. They are very smart and need to want to please you. However, with patience, you can teach them many things. Finally, if you're looking for a dog that is submissive and knows their place, a basenji is probably not for you. A basenji will be your four-footed partner/friend for life. They will adore you and respect you but they will also be independent.

Good luck. Please let us know what you decide.


@elbrant Does the dog run well with you, or is he/she too distracted by squirrels, etc?

I don't think there is a day that goes by when my Basenji doesn't stress me out.... But I cannot put into words the love, entertainment and joy he has brought into my life. There is just something about this breed that sets them apart from all the rest - I grew up with herding dogs, extremely obedient and loyal, but nowhere near as fun as the Basenji!

Anyway, the biggest struggle I have with mine is recall and pulling on the lead, which is a shame because I'd love to let him loose. But as for all the other issues that can be common with the breed, I haven't experienced them at all. Mine doesn't jump fences/walls, he has never torn up the house, and he can cope with a bit of separation. I have trained him to do sit, stay, lie down and fetch toys. He is extremely affectionate in the most heart-warming way. I would be totally lost without him.

If you do get a Basenji, you will learn A LOT! And yes, time and patience would be very beneficial. Good luck with your decision!

@italeigha said in Considering a Basenji. Thoughts?:

Does the dog run well with you, or is he/she too distracted by squirrels, etc?

I taught her to run alongside my bicycle, without too much trouble, using a rather long leash. I hold the leash at the handlebars so that I can drop it if there is an emergency of some sort. Doodle does very well trotting next to the bike, about 8 feet away on the side. She doesn't want to be up close to the bike. That's okay with me. I ride a road bike, so we will not be trying this without a leash. I also don't go very fast.... not sure how hard to push her.... If I were in the woods on a off-road course, I would go fast and let her off the leash. I know a couple of young(er) girls who do this and they tie a plastic bag to the bike to get their dogs to chase them. (Like Lure Coursing in the woods!)

As for jogging, I'm not physically able to jog just yet. I work on it once in a while, but I'm not getting more than two tenths of a mile at a time. Again, she trots in almost a "heel" position. It probably reminds her of being in the show ring.

Finally, squirrels do not seem to be an issue while we are running or riding. There was a short learning curve with a couple of incidents where she wanted to go a different direction. But it was a very short learning curve.

@elbrant said in Considering a Basenji. Thoughts?:

I taught her to run alongside my bicycle, without too much trouble, using a rather long leash.

I have biked several of my dogs. I taught them to run on the right side of the bike ("bike side" instead of "heel") so that the bike was between them and road traffic. I kept the leash short enough for control and to prevent any attempt to cross in front or behind the bike, and if there was a distraction I found that speeding up and getting past it quickly worked best. Basenjis are not big dogs, so it was fairly easy to prevent unwanted actions or incidents. I used biking when I needed to get the exercise done quickly or wanted to give them a run faster than I could do on foot, but mostly I kept to a trot pace for longer work, galloping for short bursts.

@italeigha said in Considering a Basenji. Thoughts?:

@adina Thanks so much for this. The breeders we are looking at seem to have all those boxes checked and we found them through AKC. We are hoping this is surely a trusted source...

Alas, AKC lists breeders who have paid to be listed. There is NO vetting. Please apply due diligence in choosing your breeder.
You should spend almost as much time researching the breeder (and the sire and dam) as you have the breed of dog. The breeder can let you know much of the pup's temperament and potential character.
Good luck.

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