Questions from potential new owner

I am interested in possibly getting a basenji, but am having trouble convincing my wife it would be the right choice. My main reasons for wanting the dog are first and foremost because I think they are beautiful dogs, and also because they don't shed. My wife's main reason for NOT wanting one is the "no barking" thing. We recently had to put our dog of 12 years to sleep, and my wife wants a dog that will alert us to people coming around the house the way our old dog would. I probably made a mistake by showing her a few basenji videos on Youtube where they're showing them howling, etc, and now she thinks that's all they do. My questions, then, are as follows:

Are basenjis good watch dogs?
Do they 'yodel'/howl all the time, (give or take more than the average dog)?
Are they, generally speaking, good with children?
Are they known for having any specific health issues?
Just to educate myself, what can I expect to pay, on average, from a reputable breeder?
Does anyone know of any breeders in Northern CA?

1. Basenjis have great hearing and will 'alert' when there is someone outside…unless they are sleeping! (we were robbed once while I had 5 basenjis sleeping in my bed with me)

2. Some yodel or howl often, when the phone rings, when you leave, etc. Others are virtually silent all the time(my Nicky)

3. Some are very good with children. In my experience, they may give a 'corrective nip' to a child much as they would to a puppy, but I have never heard of one really mauling a child. Children need to learn respect, not pull tails or ears. Some basenjis are as patient as a lab, though.

4. Fanconi is a genetic disease that hopefully will be eradicated now that there is a genetic marker. There are a couple of yey diseases, but I really am not familiar enough to address them.

5. Again, I have all rescues but I think you could expect to pay about $800 or a bit more from a good breeder, hopefully others more knowledgeable will correct me if I am off base!

6. There are quite a few California folks on this forum, I'm sure you can get the name of a good breeder from them.

And they DO shed, some quite a bit!

If you are looking for a non-shedding barking watch dog...you might want to look at other options!

Anne in Tampa

Thanks for the info. So much for the 'great knowledge' of the internet…

When it comes down to it, the most valuable source of information about basenjis will be your first hand experience with them. You need to spend significant time around them before you decide whether you want to bring one home. It is very important to responsible breeders that people make informed choices, regardless of the breed. They're looking to make a good match (especially considering that before they even breed they have to/should be in a position to provide a home for all the puppies should any of them get returned due to a not so great match . So….most of them will be very open to having you over to meet them and their dogs and get a sense for the breed. I highly recommend doing that.

As for your questions: I have not had much experience with my dogs exhibiting watchdog like tendencies.....but they are very alert. Mine make happy noise (baroos, yodels) maybe a couple times a week. My girl Zip just let out two long baroos directed at a pair of greyhounds we passed on our walk. No telling what's going to get a baroo out of her, really. Before that there were probably no such baroos for at least 3 weeks. Other noises from her are basically her bitching at our boy pup.....tasmanian devil sort of sound.

I have a purebred b' that has an "alert" bark…more of a woof, given when she sees something that concerns her, or when the boy b' has overstepped his manners..
Mostly, you will find that they are with the humans, unless they hear something outside.
Then they go to the front door, or backyard to see what is going on.
I think they are wonderful watch dogs, as they are right when they want to get your attention, not like the lab next door that barks when a leaf falls.
BUT really, all family members should be involved in basenji adoption.
I hope you find the right dog for your family.

You're welcome, others have more knowledge than I do. And my sympathy on the loss of your dog.

I might add that as protection, a seriously growling basenji is a frightening sight!

@grocco:

I am interested in possibly getting a basenji, but am having trouble convincing my wife it would be the right choice. My main reasons for wanting the dog are first and foremost because I think they are beautiful dogs, and also because they don't shed. My wife's main reason for NOT wanting one is the "no barking" thing. We recently had to put our dog of 12 years to sleep, and my wife wants a dog that will alert us to people coming around the house the way our old dog would. I probably made a mistake by showing her a few basenji videos on Youtube where they're showing them howling, etc, and now she thinks that's all they do. My questions, then, are as follows:

Are basenjis good watch dogs?
Do they 'yodel'/howl all the time, (give or take more than the average dog)?
Are they, generally speaking, good with children?
Are they known for having any specific health issues?
Just to educate myself, what can I expect to pay, on average, from a reputable breeder?
Does anyone know of any breeders in Northern CA?

Basenjis are not usually considered "watch" dogs… while they will alert you that someone/something is outside... since they really are not a barking dog.. they will not alert you that way, you have to be "in tune" to their body language.

Some yodel, some never do... some "scream" and I do mean scream... so dont'...
If from a responsible breeder they are bred for temperament and usually good with children, provide that your children are respectful of animals... it takes some work... because a puppy of any breed needs training... and time... they don't learn to be a part of the family by themselves.
They do have health concerns... please visit www.basenjiheath.org and read about possible health concerns. One thing for sure you want to be sure that the parents of a puppy have been DNA tested for Fanconi.
Prices vary.. but in No. California prices are around 950.00
There are a few breeders in No. California. You can visit www.norcalbasenjis.org and find a list of local breeders.

Is your wife interested in a different breed? OR just not sold on getting a dog period?

@grocco:

Are basenjis good watch dogs?
Do they 'yodel'/howl all the time, (give or take more than the average dog)?
Are they, generally speaking, good with children?
Are they known for having any specific health issues?
Just to educate myself, what can I expect to pay, on average, from a reputable breeder?
Does anyone know of any breeders in Northern CA?

Basenjis are usually very aware of their surroundings and mine definitely alert me to all the things going on in the neighborhood but they do not bark so they are not effective in scaring off potential prowlers like a barking dog.

Just like with any dog, how much they "talk" varies from dog to dog. My girls are happy yodelers and greet me when I get home with a chorus of yodels, both my husband and I enjoy it and encourage it. My boy is virtually silent unless he feels abandoned or lost, like when he accidently got shut in a walk in closet and then he can sound like anything from a woman being murdered to a fire engine siren.

Generally speaking, a well bred, well socialized basenji will be good with children.

Breed specific health issues are very well explained in the following thread, http://www.basenjiforums.com/showthread.php?t=3657

I highly recommend visiting with basenjis in the home. It is best to meet them in person and see if they really are what you expect.

@tanza:

Is your wife interested in a different breed? OR just not sold on getting a dog period?

My wife isn't interested really in a specific dog, though she probably leans toward a dachshund if given the choice (she had one when she was younger). I don't care for them, personally, but that's just me. One of the others I'm interested in is the Rat Terrier. We're still definitely in the research phase at this point and I thank everyone for all the info!

How old are your children? I believe, dachshunds are not generally recommended for small children but are okay with older children. I had one when I was younger too (not too fond now either).

Someone on the forum just got a boston/rat terrier mix. She could probably tell you about them compared to basenjis.

Visiting a breeder is definitely the way to go if you want to get a better feeling about basenjis. Good luck in your search!

@Nemo:

How old are your children? I believe, dachshunds are not generally recommended for small children but are okay with older children. I had one when I was younger too (not too fond now either).

Someone on the forum just got a boston/rat terrier mix. She could probably tell you about them compared to basenjis.

Visiting a breeder is definitely the way to go if you want to get a better feeling about basenjis. Good luck in your search!

I have 2 girls, ages 9 and 7, so they're well past the "squeeze it too tight" age, though I still wouldn't have them playing with the puppy unsupervised. I like the rat terriers, but I've just always been interested in basenjis. It's just so hard to get completely unbiased info, especially on the internet. From some of what I've been reading online, you almost feel like you aren't worthy of ANY breed, lol…

If I may add my two cents worth … in addition to visiting breeders in your area (whatever breed you choose), give real serious consideration as to what you want in a dog beyond the "no shedding" and "watch dog" (nearly any dog can be trained to be a good alert dog) and looks.
Do you want one that will play fetch? Do you want one that will be a "by the leg companion"? Do you want one that you can hike through the woods without him being on a leash? Do you want one you can teach tricks to? If the answer is yes then I probably wouldn't recommend a basenji.
Can you tolerate an occasionally destroyed shirt or rolls of toilet paper? Can you tolerate dog toys with the stuffing torn out and thrown all over the house? Can you tolerate a dog that would rather curl up in a sunny spot than in your lap? Can you tolerate a dog that will chase squirrels and rabbits and other small creatures and often catch and kill them? Can you tolerate a dog that is an escape artist? If the answer is yes, then you're on your way to basenji ownership.
We all love our beasties (as does any serious "dog partner") and we laugh at their antics and we cry (or swear) when they are naughty. We want you to make an informed decision and if you finally decide to get a basenji we will be here to help you with whatever issues come up or with how to do something or with tips on feeding or whatever. And if you do acquire a beastie, be sure to come back here and post pictures!

B's are a very unique dog.
I feel that basenji owners must have a great sense of humor to enjoy the quirks of these dogs.
I wouldn't have any other breed…but that is just me.
The more homework you do the better.
Visit some dog shows, and chat up some folks, then, check to see they do health testing on whatever breed you decide on.
Run screaming from anyone who says their breed has no health issues, I believe all breeds do!
Good luck.
We are here to help.

I agree that a really good place to start if you are still trying to figure out what breed you want is to make a list of what characteristics are most important to you. That will be really important when you are ready to start talking to breeders because there is also variation between individuals in a breed and knowing what you want can really help to match a puppy to a home.

So if you make a list and a basenji fits most of the criteria then probably if you are open with the breeder about what you want then they can work with you to help figure out if there is likely to be a basenji with those traits.

For me, I have no problem with people who are still in the research phase and not really certain if they really want a basenji visiting with my dogs. I think it is an important step and can really crystallize for someone whether this breed is something they want to continue to research or whether they should start looking at other breeds.

If your wife's biggest concern if the ability to alert and the issue of how much yodeling do they do, basic what is life with them really like type questions then I would say visiting with some basenjis would give her a better picture of what they are like in the home.

Just HAD to add…no shedding?? um not always!

When my two basenjis blow coat (at least 2x a year) the hair is just unbearable! I'm constantly vacuuming up little tiny B-hairs on the couch, rug, tables, counters etc. etc.

Good luck to you 🙂

Next to basenjis, I love Rat Terriers. We have 2 siblings that hang with our basenjis and one of them is as big as my Eddie, one is tiny. They are short haired but do bark, are fairly obedient, usually nice dogs. I like the long-legged ones personally, and ther is a variety called Giant Rat Terriers that are the same size as a basenji.

Keep your mind open and you will find the right dog. Take your wife and kids to visit basenjis as well, you are getting lots of good advice from this forum!

My first basenji Wicket would hold my father in law at the door - which I thought was a good thing (he was a crabby man). I have NEVER not known that someone or something was in the territory or near or around my house. I've lived with basenjis since 1983.

Some are better than others with kids the better question is how are your kids with dogs?

If you are looking for something that is 'different' but sort of basenji-ish - there is a breeder of Wire Portuguese Podengo Pequeno's in the Northern Cal area. They do bark but this size not a lot - they are small 8-12 inches but hardy, they have a wire coat. Properly raised they are great family companions.

I have the big size in addition to basenjis but that would be WAAAAY to big if you are thinking of a Doxie 🙂 You can click on my name and leave a message there - and I'll share some additional information.

Otherwise - find a dog show - go early and spend the day - looking at different breeds - you may find something unexpected that catches your eye.

I can't contribute much other than this: As everybody has said, find a reputable breeder. Visit them & ask them LOTS of uncomfortable questions. I'm sure somebody can post the "Important questions to ask your breeder" list. And you get what you pay for. If you find a basenji that has a price too good to be true compared to the others in your area, then it is too good to be true. You are paying for quality breeding, health testing, and a breeder who will be around for the rest of the dog's life to answer your questions, help you with problems or concerns, and, God forbid, take the dog back if you are no longer able to care for it.
Also, don't let your wife be persuaded or disuaded by what she reads about any breed. After a couple of weeks of researching basenjis online, I hated them! I was convinced they are devils that will destroy your house & ruin your life. I was only convinced when I saw a puppy, and who can resist a puppy of any breed? I will never own anything else!
As far as noise… our 2 year old male is usually very quiet, but grumbles when he's not getting his away. A baroo or yodel is a rare treat from him & we usually have to encourage him to do it. Our 1 year old girl never shuts up. She makes lots of happy noises to get attention, show her approval, whatever suits her. They're all different, and they're a great breed. They do require a good sense of humor.
Also, I found a great website last night that describes them quite well. It had me laughing hysterically. http://bleedingeyeballs.com/basenjiart/basenji.htm

😃 "hoodlum" and "houdinis" is putting it mildly! 😃

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