• hello, I am new here. I have been researching dog breeds for a few years now for a nice companion and trail dog. This will be my 3rd dog in my pack, but will be my main traveling/hiking companion. My other trail dog of 14 years just passed away. She was a mini schnauzer, and loved the trail. She went many miles with me and we had many adventures. I wanted something bigger than her, but definately a lot smaller than my doberman. I have looked at fox terriers and jack russels, and liked what I saw, but nothing really tugged at me (except boxers, but they are prone to heat exhaustion) until I saw the basenji. I remembered we took care of one for an aquaintance when i was a child, but other than remembering it didn't bark, and the tan color, I don't remember much about him. i think we only had him for a few days. Anyway, I would like to know more about this breed. I have enjoyed working with my doberman, he is such a smart dog. I want a dog that likes to snuggle in bed, likes to sit with me, and loves to go. Because of deformed back legs, my doberman can not go with me. It sounds like the basenji likes to snuggle and is active. But what about the escaping part? Is that only when they are bored and have not been exercised? Is it loyal? I want to learn more.

  • Basenjis are from the hound group, they hunt mostly by sight, what they see they chase… but they do bond to you... however on a trail, if there is a critter to chase... they will be off in a flash... and depends what you mean by escaping... an open door is an invitation for a Basenjis or a yard gate... and yes, if bored....

  • Welcome to this forum. You have come to the right place for information. There are other people on this forum who have had basenjis for years and years. They are a wonderful resource.

    We were up in the mountains a couple of weeks ago and did a little hiking with the dogs. We spotted deer and wild turkey. Had the dogs not been on leashes, we'd still up there looking for them. IMHO the biggest cause of them taking off is their strong prey instinct and not so much boredom. I just can't imagine having either of our dogs trotting by us on a trail without a leash. And I would never open a door without having both of them grasped firmly by their collars. When Cory looks out the window and spots a squirrel, I think she'd open the door herself if she could find a way to sprout opposable thumbs!


  • Over the holidays we took both of our dogs (Basenji and Puggle) to my parents house in Pennsylvania where we hiked a few miles up the Appalachian trail, Zahra our Basenji was fine with it but she does get cold in the colder weather so that may be something to think about also, she is not fond of being in temperatures below 60 degrees without a coat!

    We plan on doing a backpacking trip in March with the dogs I will have to let you all know how it goes.

    She has been great on local trails in Virginia Beach at the State Park.

    Zahra can not stand to go out in my kayak though, she screams the whole time and people stare at us from the shore. When we do a trip out on our kayaks she will be staying behind and we will only be taking Chase our Puggle. I think she has "voiced" her opinion about the kayaking trips.

  • I have taken Tiggy walking on many trails in Germany, he is used to cooler weather and if it's below about 45-50 I'll put a jacket on him and watch if he gets to warm or cold.

    Basenji's are great trail companions as long as you keep them leashed if not then well, read above, lol, they can NEVER be trusted off leash completely no matter how well trained they are

  • But I do know lots of people that hike/run with their B's off lead (not me mind you… ) up in the regional parks here in No. Cal.... but as noted they do take off for game... and sometimes take a while to return.... and there is a great off leash park over in San Mateo where many take their dogs... but again.. chasing game is natural for them...

  • When I was a teenager, my family would go into the High Uintahs camping every year. We went 11 miles and from about 7000 feet to 1000 feet in altitude. Our basenji "Bell" always had a great time hiking with us. We would usually hike up on a monday starting out at around 8am and arriving at our destination around 2-3pm. We usually stayed the week and made the return trip on Saturday. After arriving we would usually hike to one of the several lakes in the vicinity. Bell always had a great time! She was pretty much off-lead the whole time and would stay right with us, sometimes venturing just a little off the trail - but we would whistle for her periodically and she would come running. With all of the extra running that Bell did on the hike she was tired at the end of the day, but she was ready at any moment to do some more! Bell went up to the mountains with us many times and we never had a problem with her - she was off leash pretty much the whole week.

    I do a bit of hiking in the canyons nearby in the summer and my current B Samantha loves it! She'll go off to investigate something occasionally, but if she gets out of sight, we just whistle for her and she comes running back to join us.

    We took Samantha camping soon after we got her (she was 4-1/2 years old at the time) and I got up to get her out to do her business early one morning. We hiked up a trail a nd were about a quarter mile away from the campground (we were in one of the campsites at the edge). I let her off lead since she had stayed pretty close to me when off lead in the forest before. This time she saw or heard something in the forest and took off running. I waited for 5 minutes or so whistling and calling her name and didn't see her. As I started hiking up the hill that the trail ran along, I saw her come running back down toward the trail to one side of me. I ran back to the trail and called her again, but no sight of her. I walked up and down the trail looking and finally decided to go back to camp to get my wife and kids to help me look for her - and there she was sitting at the door of the tent waiting for me - looking like: "Hey, where have you been - I'm cold and want to go back in the tent!" I was amazed at her sense of direction and loyalty to me after only a couple of weeks.

    My first basenji Bell did kill a deer that got into my dads orchard (how it got into an area with a 10' fence I'll never know), and I have heard stories that B's have been killed by coyotes, so you have to keep an eye on them out in the wild - probably no different than any other dog though. And if you have a lot of rattlesnakes around you might want to check out an article in Basenji magazine (September 2007 issue?) about de-snaking them.

    B's do make great trail dogs, and it sounds like your the active type that would be right for them. They do need daily exercise. There's a saying that I wholeheartedly subscribe to: "A good Basenji is a tired Basenji!". I'm doing better in that department than I've ever done with my other two B's, and Samantha is my best B yet - I think it's because of the amount of time that we get out walking with her. When they know their going to get exercise they are much better behaved and more patient with you when you have a busy day and can't get out on the usual schedule.

    By the way, B's do love to snuggle in bed, or up next to you on the couch. The things that I love about them the most are the sounds they make and the sounds they don't make, the lack of drool, and the nice warm soft a slightly moist tongue (when they lick you you don't feel like you've been licked by a dog!). I love to watch them run, and I love the way they play with you. I love their curly tails! They are a dog with personality - you'll definitely be entertained! I love the short hair and the way they don't smell like a dog, but they do shed a little and those short hairs don't always come of the couch with the vacuum - we have to use duct tape!

    This is my favorite picture of Samantha hiking in the canyon!


  • Thanks for the replies. I believe a tired dog of any breed is a good dog. My doberman is much happier after we have played ball, and he has his tongue hanging out. Then he is relaxed. (this is a short session every day, just enough to burn some of his energy)
    I just wanted to know that if I took a B. off leash, that it would return shortly. My doberman can't stand to not have us in sight. Always doing a perimeter check, then back to us to check in. I like that. I don't want a dog to go off and stay off for a long time.
    What are the differences in training a B. compared to a Doberman? The dobe is so easy to train. He figures things out. I've never had a dog that was intelligent, til him. Smart yes, like shelties, but intelligently figure out things is neat. Are the B.'s this way?
    On the prey drive: will the B. naturally bring in his kills (quail, rabbits) back to you? Or do you have to spend a lot of time training him to? Or does he just keep it and eat? Just wondering how to go about that if I want to use him to hunt small game?
    I read several web sites, and the escaping part was on them, that if you left a door open, out goes the dog. So can I let him out in the yard to go potty without supervision, or do I have to have him leashed at all times? I just let my Dobe out, and he noses the door when he's ready to come in. How different is the B? If I'm gone for the day, do I have to keep him tied (which I don't like) or will he stay happily in the yard with my other dog? We have a large yard, half in 6ft metal fencing, the other half in chain link.

    We have the rattlesnakes and the coyotes. Will have to learn how to teach them to avoid snakes. I always figured my schnauzer would die from a snake bite, but she never got bit once. I don't know how she avoided them, because when she got hot on the trail, she backed up to the yucca and sit in the shade.

  • 1. Basenjis are not easy to train, it is consistent work, and they are very intelligent… so much so that they are the ones asking "What is in it for me?"
    2. Prey Drive, they will kill it and eat it 99% of the time.
    3. You can not under any circumstance just open a door for them to go potty on their own... 100% of the time they will be gone. And they will NOT stay in the yard with other dogs without a fence. As long is there is no real way to escape most likely they will stay with the pack, but I have to say, they perfer to be indoors...
    4. Good luck on snakes. I have a good friend that hikes all over the southwest.. he has had his Basenji to rattlesnake school 3 times.. and nope has never learned to leave them alone...
    5. I have another friend that goes running with her dogs in one of the open space regional pks here, and hers have chased coyotes and been in fights with them...

  • Well, most of the time I leave my dogs inside. I like leaving the Dobe inside while I'm gone. We feel much safer with him around. So what kind of fencing does everyone have?
    My son has a beagle. Definately understand the "what's in it for me?" attitude. But he's loveable. Much more loveable than the Dobe. The Dobe is more regal and aloof. And then he can turn around and be a complete galloping jackrabbit.

  • Warning: Basenji's will climb chain link fence. I have a 6' wooden fence that works well. Though my first B climbed up a wood pile that was next to a 6' woden fence and jumped over it - she was a bit sore for a few days after the landing!

    All of my B's have stayed with me very well when hiking. They will usually be out in front then if they find something to check out will be sniffing while I pass them. They will come running pretty soon and pass me up to take the lead again. I do keep a lead handy though if I spot a deer before she does, or like happened last Spring, I heard something up the trail ahead and put her on her lead just in time for her to flush a turkey. And if I wouldn't have put her on we would have been having wild turkey for dinner that night! I've also have people on Mtn Bikes come down the trail, and she'll run after them a bit, then come running to catch up with me. But, I always walk her on a lead when I'm in town - she thinks that cars a big rabbits or something, and wants to chase after them!

  • I have had to catch and pry several birds out of Manning's mouth. He wouldn't just drop them at my feet that's for sure. We went out on the trail in the Big South Fork last fall. Manning loved it but he remained leashed at all times. He isn't trustworthy off the leash.

  • Each basenji is different though there are common threads. Not all will climb chain link fences - mine doesn't even though he can jump straight up 5 feet from a sitting position but his aunt could clear a 7 foot fence with a running start; not all will trail as nicely as gemurray's - my previous beastie would follow animal trails until he pooped out and not come back as readily if called and my current one will chase rabbits until he catches it or the rabbit gets through a fence (and he'll eat the rabbit); some are easy to train and others not - my obedience instructor said she has seen basenjis that just didn't want to learn and would constantly actup in class and others learned exceptionally quickly - it depends a lot on the owner and how much time and quality of training you spend. There are people on this forum who have basenjis that are champion agility dogs (talk about training).
    So bottom line, talk to different breeders and see what the potential parents are like of the puppies you are interested in. Read through some of the other threads on this forum and see the funny things they do and problems that beasties can into. Also be aware of the health issues.
    Then go for it 🙂

  • I am getting this response in other forums also. It is certain dogs in the breed that do this. Some are easier to train than others. One said he trained his dog not to climb the fence, and I am waiting for a reply as to how he did that. Does anyone here know how to train them not to climb a fence? One said that hers didn't respond well to corrections, but more treat training. My Dobe just likes to please, and will work for treats, except when we play ball, and then its down to business. The beagle looks at you like, so, what's in it for me. You show him the treat, and he's the brightest student in class. So these are the extremes I'm living with. Where in between does the basenji fit??

  • The basenji will do anything you want him/her to do … provided it's something s/he wants to do 🙂

  • @chilingoober:

    I am getting this response in other forums also. It is certain dogs in the breed that do this. Some are easier to train than others. One said he trained his dog not to climb the fence, and I am waiting for a reply as to how he did that. Does anyone here know how to train them not to climb a fence? One said that hers didn't respond well to corrections, but more treat training. My Dobe just likes to please, and will work for treats, except when we play ball, and then its down to business. The beagle looks at you like, so, what's in it for me. You show him the treat, and he's the brightest student in class. So these are the extremes I'm living with. Where in between does the basenji fit??

    The basenji is closer to beagle if not a bit more challenging. My obedience instructor said if she had to try to explain a basenji the best way she could think of was to put them in contrast to her whippet. Her whippet is also a sighthound and has a good prey drive but her whippet needs a maid and knows it, he needs some one to open the door, to feed him, to put his coat on him when he is cold. In contrast, a basenji knows there is no maid and even if there was one, isn't sitting around waiting for them to do what needs to be done. Basenjis are intelligent and persistent. They are not going to wait for someone else to solve their problems and often times people are not really pleased with their solutions.

    So basenjis do very well with positive reinforcement training because there is a clear benefit to them in doing it. Basenjis can be reinforced to respect boundaries but if the thing on the other side is more rewarding they will probably go for it. Basenjis like being with their people, they enjoy having a "job" in the family even if the job is couch warmer supreme.

    Some examples of what living with a basenji can be like. I had to buy a new refrigerator to keep my male from opening the fridge and helping himself to beef and lamb roasts. He would not open the fridge any other time but would sneak off and help himself everytime we had a roast in the fridge. The first time we didn't catch him until he ingested all 2 pounds of roast. He can also open all of our cabinets and drawers so we had to install child safety locks but he learned how to open some of those so we have to be careful what brand we install. Nicky is also quite capable of jumping up on the counter but does not only because as a youngster he accidently jumped into a cake which resulted in an immediate bath and one other time he jumped into a large bowl that soaking in the sink. He now practices look before you leap but if he can see up there then he will be up there.

    My girl Rio will happily be contained by a simple baby gate in the house while I am home but if I leave she will be over it in a heartbeat to be with the other dogs and she has always done this. She also easily leaps out of her x-pen, one person at a lure trial described it as watching me catch popcorn when I opened the lid because she would leap into my arms each time.

  • Oh my gawd - your house lvoss must be truely chaos 🙂

  • All very good replies. I can see how independent this breed is, and in a way, that's what I want in a dog–one that can think for himself. I think I'm afraid that if it runs off it won't come back. I keep thinking about what I read on how the bushmen used the dog, to push the game into nets. It can obviously be trained to work as a team also, instead of just deciding on its own what to do all the time. Does anyone have any info on how they were trained in Africa? That would be very interesting. I really like the trainability of my Doberman. He has spoiled me. He can figure things out. The beagle doesn't bug me to go play. He is more laid back. The Dobe needs me to play on a schedule every day. He has energy to burn and knows he needs to run around. Then he is a happy dog. I enjoy both of them.

  • I can certainly attest to the independence and inttelligence. When we call Dash to come he is always, always, always rewarded with cheese wether we are in the house, yard, whatever. He know this and if he does get loose he will come after much socialization with neighbors to get his cheese. Getting a B to come when called can be especially challenging in the patience arena so plan ahead.

    Dash has decided over the last few days or so that he no longer wants to be in the expen. He jumps on it until it lifts up at the bottom and then dives underneath. This takes about 5 minutes now. We have decided to comply and we gate off the upstairs. He can jump the gate but the beagle can't and he won't be alone. We just put his blanket on the couch and so far he has been content. God, I hope it lasts. That is why I am now looking in to doggie doors so they can come and go as they please.

    Our life is constantly adjusting to the dogs needs and wants. It is like living with another very pushy adult.

  • I take two of my basenjis for country walks off leash with other friends with dogs. All the dogs mostly stay together and all are rewarded frequently for "checking in" with their owners. I am always prepared to leash mine up and probably do leash mine more often than the people with other dogs. So can basenjis be off leash? Yes, but as an owner you will have to make sure the situations are ones that are safe and understand that if you are where there is a lot of wildlife you will probably have to leash them. I would not recommend a basenji to a person who really wants a dog that is going to be good offleash. Their hard wiring is to give chase and though with training you can raise your value so they are more likely to stay near by or if they give chase that they will not go too far, that hard wiring will always be there. They can be good off leash but it is not something that I would expect.

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