• I've always wanted a basenji since reading a story about one as a child. After meeting a few I became a true fan!
    I don't own one. I have two rat terriers and a dobe but I have a question/observation my hubby and I have pondered for a while now and this seems to be the best place to get a few opinions.

    When we go our first rat terrier I was initially drawn to her because I thought she was a basenji. She was a just weaned pup and looked like the basenjis I've met. My hubby at that time was reluctant to adopt a basenji because he quite rightly stated a super intelligent dog may not be the best first time pet for a family traveling a lot as we were then. I'm not sure how I talked him into a 'ankle biter' instead, but I knew when I saw my Sandi she was a newly found member of the family.

    Sandi is 5 now and the best dog I have ever known. She is a 'pureblood rat terrier' but I swear she was a basenji in another life (or a cat, lol). Let me describe her a bit.

    She's between 15 and 20 pounds. White with apricot/red facial markings, one single spot on her back the same. A couple of darker skin freckles, smooth hairless stomach, and a red/brown nose. Short hair, pink skin, very smooth, always clean and almost never sheds. She never smells.

    Her temperment though- that's the thing! She's a true genius dog. She understands our conversations. She follows complex commands- if she's walking to one area of the house and I say- "Sandi, you should go check on my daughter"- she will turn around and do just that. If I tell her to do something she really doesn't want to do- she gives me 'the look'. I tell her 'don't give me that look- do such-and-such'. She sighs and then follows the command. She amazed our current Vet by behaving the way she does. The vet even asked if she was a basenji!

    She rarely barks. If she does bark, it's a one time bark to get attention. If we come home, let her out but don't talk to her, we get the one-time bark.

    She purrs. She rarely barks, but 'talks' all the time. She has a definite vocabulary in that her 'words' are consistent. Her yawn is distinctive. She cleans herself like a cat. She loves all people, but she definately has her favorites in regards to our human friends. She is curious and attentive. If there is a stranger (human or animal) outside she walks to the door and waits. If we don't pay attention, she makes us pay attention. When she wants us to play she has a distinctive 'let's play' dance.

    Our other rat terrier is nothing like this. In fact, no other dog I've met is like Sandi except for the basenji. I don't think she's a mislabeled breed- she came from a reputable breeder near the end of his retirement. He'd been breeding ratties for years.

    I still want a basenji some day though for now our family is complete. I was just curious if anyone else has noticed a rat terrier that acts like a basenji. I suppose she could have a basenji in her family tree- but I've not come across any references to basenjis being added in the rat terrier mix.

    I apologize if this question is too off-topic. It's just something my hubby and I have found interesting.

  • welcome to the forum, sorry i don't know anything about Rat Terriers, in fact the first time i heard of them was on this forum. I enjoyed reading about Sandi she sounds a great Dog, possibly too obedient for a Basenji 😉
    would love to see a pic of your Dogs

  • Houston

    The Decker rat terriers, also known as Decker Giants are known to have basenjis in them, fram way back when, so the traits you see in Sandi might not be that far off. She sounds like a lovely dog..

    Oh and by the way, welcome to the forum..we are glad you've found us.

    Here is something I found online..

    History and Development of The Decker Terrier

    This story begins with a dog named "Henry". This Terrier possessed qualities that are seen only once in a lifetime. Henry was a 32# male with button ears and exhibited tremendous working and hunting qualities. He was quite intelligent made a superb all around family dog with an excellent disposition.
    Being so taken with this dog, and wanting to preserve that all around, versatile dog, there embarked a journey about the year 1970. Traveling from Oregon to as far away as Texas, Kansas and Mississippi; searching for the largest "Rat" Terriers to locate for breeding stock to recreate the ideal of that perfect dog. By breeding the Henry dog to the Rat Terrier stock that were obtained the "Decker" strain was on its way to development. There has also been rumored Basenji added in for fixing erect ear set and Cur for size. Although these were added at the beginning of the strain and should not be added now as our genetics are set. Because there was a need for larger dogs at the time, this made way for breeding and retaining the large size. Deckers Terriers were then established along with fixing in an erect ear set. And so the name Decker "Giant" Terrier came into existence.

    and here is another website..


    Do you have any pictures?

  • We play with a pair of litter-mate Rats and the male, Henry, is larger than my Eddie, his sister is a teeny little thing. Henry and Nicky look very much alike, his snout is a little slimmer, head shape is slightly different. The body, while the same size, does not have the deep chest and tucked tummy, either.

    Your Sandi sounds like an incredible companion, one of those once-in-a-lifetime dogs. While many basenjis may understand conversations and be very bright, I have never had one like your Sandi! I think she is a 'genius' dog!

  • Welcome. I don't think we've any Rat Terriers in the UK but I stand to be corrected. I've never seen one in the flesh although they sound very intriguing. Do they actually kill rats? Your Sandi sounds very intelligent. Do they get on well with other dogs? What are their temperaments like?

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