In Iowa our Basenjis shed a whole lot in January for some reason. There is moderate shedding the rest of the year. I would not recommend a Basenji as a first time dog. I raised German Shepherds for over 30 years and found all the training you used with other breeds does not work with Basenjis as they are independent thinkers. Basenjis want to please themselves not you. On that note I have not have anything but a Basenji for over 20 years now as they just steal your heart.
As far as not having a Basenji as a first dog, it could actually be an advantage. If you have prior dog experience, you might expect the Basenji to respond in the same way as your previous dogs, which people on this thread have been at pains to inform you isn't so. Better to start with no preconceived ideas of how a dog should be trained and figure it out by learning from others or by experience. OTOH, prior cat experience could be useful!
Within the breed there is a lot of variation. Some respond more like "ordinary" dogs, others not so much. Part of this is genetics, part is environment. The very first Basenji I owned I treated very much as I had the previous dogs in my life. Guess what? She was the most reliable Basenji I have ever owned, had a rock solid recall, and was absolutely wonderful with any and all people and dogs we encountered. Nature or nurture? Who knows. Below, Val in my parents' unfenced backyard in the city of Toronto, no collar or leash. Just posing for a picture. Circa '60's.
As previously stated, basenjis are not hypoallergenic. Not only are shedding and dander a concern, but also saliva. Some people have terrible reactions to being licked. Whether a basenji is a good "first" dog depends on many factors and is why a good breeder or rescue group is invaluable in the decision of who gets which pup. Shelters do not screen homes for compatibility or appropriateness.
It sounds like you are a minor, living in the home of your parents (or at least a mother). That means you have no control over whether or not you will be able to keep a dog if/when the head of the household decides he/she can no longer tolerate living with a dog. The decision will be out of your control. I would recommend you wait until you have complete control over your living arrangements and have the right circumstances (i.e., time, funds, etc.) to get a puppy or rescue a dog.
I'm sorry if that means you have to wait, but I hope you can be selfless enough not think of what YOU want, but what is best for the dog who will have no say in the matter.
@pawla - Agree Pawla... and also this is why breeders that are NOT responsible do not "interview" potential puppy owners to see why they want a Basenji and what are their family situation/life style is like.... responsible breeders will tell people if in their opinion a Basenji is NOT a good fit. Different then breeders that only care about getting the money. Responsible breeders do not make money, they are lucky if they break even on a litter. Remember most all responsible breeders, breed to improve the breed and to continue their bloodlines so will typically keep one of the pups out of the litter.
@isabob - For Basenjis there is no DQ for larger or smaller Basenjis...in fact in Basenjis there is no DQ... other than only one testicle on the males, however in the show ring they can look a bit out of place if you have a larger one and the rest are way smaller... but agree for a pet not an issue. Nature does what nature does!
@jengosmonkey - Correct depending on his conformation... it that and movement met the standard then yes.... years ago a friend had a black & white Male that was about 30lbs and was about 19 to 20" tall... he finished his championship. Chances of the "Neuticles" being discovered most likely would have happened, however. It had been tried in other breeds.... one was with a Golden that only had 1 testicle so they had one neuticle implanted when the pup was about 8 months... funny thing about testicles... sometimes can come down at the most inopportune times... image the judge when did his exam and discovered "3" testicles....LOL Opps! by the way the dog and the owner & handler were DQ.