Are Basenjis Sighthounds?

I know that many sighthound owners have differing opinions on whether basenjis are truly sighthounds or not and many fought their acceptance into Lure Coursing. I feel basenjis are All Around Hounds and definately have the drive and speed to run with the sighthounds. Basenjis will use all of their senses to catch prey and are very persistent in their hunt. My Rally's mom excavated under the AC unit in her owners backyard trying to catch and kill the lizards that lived there. Rally herself has contemplated climbing trees to pursue squirrells that she has treed. While chasing the lure, they are single minded and don't notice anything other than that bag. It is for that reason that they can not be trusted off leash because once they give chase they can not hear you, their whole focus is what they are chasing.

How could basenjis not be considered sight hounds? My Abbey's a tree climber too, as was my first basenji many years ago. She'll spot a squirrel and be halfway up the tree before she realizes she can't go any higher. She also does the mbwah (jumping up and down dog) basenji thing for which they got their name in Africa. If she loses sight of something she has spotted, she will go up on her hind legs and start jumping up and down like she's on a pogo stick. Every time she goes up she does a visual sweep of the area checking for the "prey." She always manages to find it. One other thing I've never heard anybody else talk about, Abbey spots airplanes and helicopters. She was doing this when I got her at 4 months. If she hears an airplane she spots it and sits down to watch till it goes out of sight. How many dogs do you know that pay any attention to airplanes?

Basenji Mix

Yeah - Duke looks up at airplanes as if wondering how he's going to get it. 😃 I've never noticed any dog do that either.

Wonder what they think airplanes are?? Very weird birds? When we take our 5 am walk before I go to work sometimes we can hear train sounds like Choooooo. I tell Abbey that's a choo choo train and she starts looking up in the air like Okay, then where is this choo thing?

I think I posed that question in the intro and thanks for discussing it. In my travels around the Net, I think most dog people consider it a sighthound. I was just a little unsure since they aren't leggy like a greyhound or Afghan.

Basenjis were not intentionally bred for a specific purpose. Their body type is what one will find in most "natural" breeds like the New Guinea Singing Dogs or other pariah breeds. They are nice moderate dogs capable of good speed and agility. Mine have always enjoyed coursing and are very keen.

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These real life rockets are sighthounds through and through. My Tobias will give chase anywhere, anytime. I cant wait to get him started on lure coursing. The squirrels in the neighborhood are catching on, I have been dragged around the block many times, as Tobias had one in his sights. The determination of Basenjis is unmatched by any other breed, just in my opinion anyway.

I think that our city should hire my basenji to catch speeders. If a car is going the speed limit, he's OK. If they're going faster, he does his "Tasmanian devil" thing where he spins around a few times before he wants to take off for a chase.

my boy also has a fascination w/ airplanes! since he was a pup, 8 wks, he's watched them, as if they were a bird. my boy is also a tree climber. while out for a walk the other day, he stopped dead in his tracks, staring into the woods….I stopped, and looked HARD to see what he saw.... low and behold, a chipmunk, who was VERY WELL hidden, yet Tucker spotted him in an instant. he'll also look UP to the tree tops while on a walk - watching squirrels, instead of looking forward - where he's walking... it's especially funny when he trips. (umm, tucker please watch where you're walking!) I swear, his eyesight is much better than my own... and I have 20/20 vision.

Here's my thoughts on this topic. Wild canids are very versatile hunters, I would imagine they use all their senses in a fairly balanced way. Sight hounds, and scent hounds have been "shaped" over thousands of years to use one sense more than they other, depending on what the humans shaping the dogs needed and wanted. Basenjis have not been shaped in that way. If there were selective breeding pressures on native basenjis they were surely more directed at effective hunters…and effective hunters in jungle and scrub would use scent, sight, and auditory senses equally.

IMO, sighthound doesn't mean anything about body type (expcept for perhaps the shape of the head, and placement of eyes); or whether a dog can see BETTER than other dogs...it simply means they hunt with their eyes INSTEAD of their nose...and vice versa for scenthounds. Basenjis can do it all! And I guess the argument stems from Lure Coursing? Where folks in other breeds were resistant to allowing Basenjis to compete, because they aren't true sighthounds? But really...there is no sport that demonstrates Basenji natural skills better..so regardless of whether they ARE true sighthounds, it is still appropriate for them to compete in lure coursing, as it does test the some of the same skills they would use hunting in their native state.

JMO 😉

Ivoss-your dogs look amazing in those pics. I imagine they are so fast how can you catch them with the camera???!!! 🙂

I noticed one has a muzzle…why is that?? And is he comfortable racing with it?

The breeder we bought Ash from told us that Basenji's were bred to pack hunt lions in Africa. Ash certainly seems like she is more sight than sound or sniff.

@yonae12:

The breeder we bought Ash from told us that Basenji's were bred to pack hunt lions in Africa. Ash certainly seems like she is more sight than sound or sniff.

uh….no...that would be Rhodesian Ridgebacks. Basenjis are too smart to hunt lions 😉 Actually, they weren't really BRED to do anything, they were and still are kept to aid native people with hunting. They are a naturally occuring breed of dog in central Africa that is used to find, drive and flush prey. A few brave souls here in the Western hemisphere have trained them to be hunting companions as well.

@jys1011:

Ivoss-your dogs look amazing in those pics. I imagine they are so fast how can you catch them with the camera???!!! 🙂

I noticed one has a muzzle…why is that?? And is he comfortable racing with it?

Nicky doesn't not like to stop at the end of a run. When he was 18 months old my husband spent 20 minutes trying to catch him at the end of a course. He was only able to catch him because he stopped to roll in fresh horse manure. It was a very fragrant trip home. Someone suggested coursing him with a muzzle so he would be less inclined to run off at the end. It has worked, when he gets to the end he will run to me to have his muzzle removed. Though he has now learned how to stuff the plastic bag into his muzzle so he can chew it with the rest of the dogs at the end of the course but he still stays in one place so I can catch him. He is completely oblivious to the muzzle when the lure is moving.

@elena86:

I think that our city should hire my basenji to catch speeders. If a car is going the speed limit, he's OK. If they're going faster, he does his "Tasmanian devil" thing where he spins around a few times before he wants to take off for a chase.

Stop! The visual on that is killing me. Too funny. :p

I would LOVE to involve my B with Lure Coursing. She is a mix, so she could only run in practices, but that's fine with me. I just know she would love it… and I would appreciate her getting the exercise. Unfortunately the closest group that participates in lure coursing is approximately 2 hours away from me. If anyone knows of a group that participates in lure coursing in the knoxville, tn area, please post or send me a private message. THANKS!

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