Is a Basenji right for my family?

My name is Carrie; I'm using my boyfriend's account to post a question. My boyfriend has his heart set on a Basenji. His childhood pet, Bandit, was a stray his family rescued, and he is part Basenji. Bandit is one of the best dogs I've ever met; smart, sweet, very loving and obedient. Although he has many many Basenji traits (looks like one, only bigger & without a curly tail, cleans himself, etc), he has other traits (for instance, he barks rather than yodeling). If we could have a purebred Basenji exactly like Bandit, I would be thrilled. However, it seems the more we research Basenjis, the less I think they would be ideal. My boyfriend had me surfing this forum in order to help me fall more in love with Basenjis, but it seems to me there are lots of stories about difficulty with potty training and destructive behaviors. I like knowing I can leave a dog in another room and not be afraid it will destroy the couch cushions, and I am horrified at the thought of putting a dog in a crate rather than letting it sleep in the bed with me.
So I posted this thread in order to get a more balanced, truthful account of basenjis. Obviously they can't be too bad or else there would not be so many devoted to this breed. Their positives must outweigh their negatives, so I would appreciate any good and bad input you can give me. I certainly don't want to prevent my boyfriend from getting a Basenji, but I want to make sure we will be able to handle one.
Thank you in advance!

Hi Carrie, you are wise to do your research first 🙂 Basenjis certainly aren't the dog for everyone…but they are incredible little dogs, and if you like them...you LOVE them.

Most basenjis are easy to housetrain...honestly, they like to be clean. Using a crate or gating off rooms helps with housetraining...but so much of it is how committed you are to watching the puppy all the time for the first few weeks.

Most basenjis don't destroy the couch cushions...especially once they are past the puppy stage....IMO, most basenjis are no worse than any other puppy. And once they are house trained, you can usually leave them alone in a room that you have "puppy proofed" for a short bit of time, usually. Some basenjis as adults can be left unsupervised for long periods of time, but you have to make sure there isn't anything tempting them up on a table, like a pizza 😉 or a box of kleenex 😉 again, there are lots of "normal" dogs where this is how people live too 🙂

One of the things that can make basenjis a little more difficult, is that you have to put a lot of work into socializing them to all sorts of different things as puppies. All different people, all different dogs, all different places...and I think that basic obedience using positivie reinforcement is important for a well mannered house dog.

You should really find a breeder where you can go meet some dogs. It doesn't mean you have to commit to buying one. Most breeders (at least the ones you want to deal with) are happy to have people visit the dogs, to see if they are a good match for their family.

I can recommend someone near you if you contact me privately.

Best of luck, and congrats on doing your research 🙂

Carrie,

Our stories are very similar, my husband was set on a Basenji or a Pharoah Hound. I read up on the Basenji and became terrified about them, everything I read said that they were destructive, could not be trusted out of the kennel if left alone, etc. I read one site that had a section is a Basenji right for you and it just scared me. I just had such a uneasy feeling about it. Now, understand that I am a dog amature, we had just got our first dog a few months prior and were looking to add a second.

This is the part of the story that I don't feel extremely proud of, while at the mall I walked into the Petstore and there was a Basenji puppy. I took her out and played with her and feel in love, I could not believe that this adorable little creature could grow horns and destroy my house. I put her back and left with a little bit better of a feeling about the breed. A month later my husband came back from travel and we walked back into the pet store and she was still there so we adopted her. I don't regret it at all.

There are some major differences with this breed then any other but IMHO I think some of them could happen with other dogs too. You HAVE to crate a Basenji, you need to think of them like a two year old child, would you leave a two year old child alone in a room for 10 minutes? Not unless you want fingerpaint all over your walls and crayon on the floor.

The crate is not a torture item, dogs are pack animals and the crate is like a safe haven to them. This took me a while to get over with out first dog, I felt bad that he was cooped up all day in this "jail cell" while I was at work, don't feel that way. My two willingly go into their crates and sometimes they hang out together in one.

As for sleeping with you, you can do that my Basenji is such a cuddler even if I am sleeping on the couch she is right there with me.

I attribute Zahra's potty training problems with the fact that she came from a petstore and was there for a while. I have read on here that there are some that get it right away.

I have really gotten into the breed since we got her, we go lure coursing, people stop us all the time to ask about the breed. It is so cool because of how special they are.

I would say that a Basenji is going to be more of a challenge then your dog that you have now, one because he is already trained and knows the rules so don't let that frustrate you when you bring home your Basenji. You just need to treat your Basenji like a two year old, the best thing I read on this forum that describes a Basenji is "a two year old in a fursuit". When you are owned by a Basenji you become part of a unique club, you learn to have a more watchful eye, build higher fences and laugh about things that a labrador dog owner would never have to experience (Yodeling or Barrrroooooooing because you take one dog for a walk and leave the Basenji behind - WARN YOUR NEIGHBORS! LOL!)

Good luck, hope this helps.

Jenn

Oh, and lots and lots of us sleep with our basenjis in the bed. In fact our second, third and fourth basenji never slept in a crate at night until they were about six months old 🙂

To have a Basenji as a pet- it's a very dedicated thing. You have to really want it. And go into it knowing that it will be work. And there will be times when your puppy gets into things- hopefully the response will be that "Oops- shouldn't have left that out". You have to "Basenji-proof" your house just like you would a child. They're curious and they will get into things if given the opportunity. I think a lot of people see them on a dog show and think they're neat and don't realize they're not ordinary dogs. They are energetic and demand entertainment. For me, one of the biggest differences is that Basenji's for the most part do not come when they're called. And they must ALWAYS be leashed (unless you're inside the proper fencing). Our dobie has quite the opposite traits- she always comes when called and is very willing to please. We have to convince our Basenji why she should do what we want. 🙂
It's just a different mindset that you have to be ready for- sounds like you got the best of both worlds before. But good for you for investigating first. And as mentioned before- definitely go visit someone who has them and spend a few hours. Of course at that point, you'll probably have fallen head over heels for them!! They are so cute and irresistable- at any age!! That's another fabulous thing about them- they are adorable puppies, but sexy little dogs as adults too! I just LOVE them!

I originally found out about the breed by doing an online Pet-Matcher on Yahoo Pets. You type in your lifestyle (house size, activity level, etc) and then the qualities your prioritize in a dog (obedience, hair length, maintenance level, etc) and it spits out the dog that's "right for you"– I actually thought it did very well matching up-- Basenji, Whippet, Italian Greyhound were all in the top choices. Good thing I picked Basenji!! What a fantastic breed!!

I agree. Caesar was pure chaos as a puppy. Once he was fixed and through the teething period we decided he was so out of control that we needed the Basic Training.

Once we completed the Basic Training we learned that we werent communicating correctly with him and he was an angel. We crated him while at work and at night as well. He didnt mind at all and Basic Training really is what did it.

Some dogs are naturally obedient like a shephard or collie. You can train them at home to sit and follow the basic commands. What makes the Basenji difficult IMO is that they are sight hounds and scent hounds which means they are always paying attention to the action. We did training in a Petsmart store with people walking by and lots of noise. It was really hard at first to get his attention to even start training. Once we found the stinkiest liver treats, it was smooth sailing.

Caesar was an indoor dog only for his first 3 years. We took him to the dog parks every weekend and he became very socialized.

He is 6 now and sleeps out of his kennel without any problem.

I truely believe the horror stories you are reading are true, and happen in the puppy years from people who do not invest enough time into their dogs behavior. You will have to commit to training a basenji if you want to avoid those stories. When I adopted Caesar I didnt realize this, if it wasnt for the Basic training, I would have lost my mind.

Once you win their trust- they are loyal and true to the last beat of their heart. And it's worth every bit of the crazy puppy stage!! 🙂

I think that no matter what breed you get, the key to having a dog you can live with is training and being committed to the dog. None of my basenjis have been very destructive except for a two chewed kitchen chairs because Rally would fall asleep with her chin on the cross bar and end up chewing on them in her sleep. I don't count the times that they have TP'd the house because that is pretty easy to clean up. But I take my puppies to puppy kindergarten and am committed to making sure the dogs have things to do that work them physically and mentally. The big thing with basenjis is that they really need positive reinforcement training and really good sense of humor. Mine are really clowns at heart and are quite proud of their TP work or sock stealing, yodeling and tailwagging and tattling on the others.

@Andrew:

My name is Carrie; I'm using my boyfriend's account to post a question. My boyfriend has his heart set on a Basenji. His childhood pet, Bandit, was a stray his family rescued, and he is part Basenji. Bandit is one of the best dogs I've ever met; smart, sweet, very loving and obedient. Although he has many many Basenji traits (looks like one, only bigger & without a curly tail, cleans himself, etc), he has other traits (for instance, he barks rather than yodeling). If we could have a purebred Basenji exactly like Bandit, I would be thrilled. However, it seems the more we research Basenjis, the less I think they would be ideal. My boyfriend had me surfing this forum in order to help me fall more in love with Basenjis, but it seems to me there are lots of stories about difficulty with potty training and destructive behaviors. I like knowing I can leave a dog in another room and not be afraid it will destroy the couch cushions, and I am horrified at the thought of putting a dog in a crate rather than letting it sleep in the bed with me.
So I posted this thread in order to get a more balanced, truthful account of basenjis. Obviously they can't be too bad or else there would not be so many devoted to this breed. Their positives must outweigh their negatives, so I would appreciate any good and bad input you can give me. I certainly don't want to prevent my boyfriend from getting a Basenji, but I want to make sure we will be able to handle one.
Thank you in advance!

I understand what you mean about crating. I know some B parents feel they need to be crated for their own safety. And I know some do need that. I (regretfully) never crate trained mine. I wish I had–because there are times when it is the safest thing for them (in a car). Mine, however, wasn't an "extreme B" My house was basenji proofed (including the refridgerator that he learned to open), and he had a dog door to a fenced back yard. But he wasn't a digger or climber either (and only "mildly" destructive in the house). He also had an adult non B companion when he was a puppy and for most of his life. At first, I would shut the door to the bedroom that had the dog door, so they were confined to the one bedroom and backyard when I was out of the house. But since they were well behaved, for many, many years, they had the run of most of the house and backyard when I was out of the house. I think it depends on the individual dog, the home environment, etc., They also slept on my bed. The B was a very sound sleeper until his old age.

Thanks for all of the advice! I definitely feel better now! We're willing to commit the time and energy, and our schedules work out that the dog would only be left unattended for a few short hours in the middle of the day. I appreciate all of the advice! I think we're going to contact some breeders & maybe meet some puppies next week.

My husband heard horror stories about Basenji's and was very, very concerned about getting one.
He felt better after we'd met with a couple of breeders, but was still a little nervous even after we'd first brought Jazzy home.

Of course, he fell in love with her pretty quickly and discovered that Basenjis are not Dogs From Hell if they are supervised and trained. Jazz is the only dog we've ever owned that he will say he's truly enjoyed from Day One.

So, do your homework and meet breeders, etc.to be sure of what you want. But don't let the stories scare you away either. These are terrific dogs!

I agree with the above, they eventually grow out of that destructive stage.

I do think you have to be willing to change the way you live your life and if you're not willing to do that, they aren't the dog for you.

I also don't think you'll find a dog that will touch you personally more than a Basenji.

I also think they do better in pairs.;)

Crate training is a must for any dog… I believe... it is a god sent when you have work done on your home... how many times have you heard about workmen leave a door open or a gate open... also.. when you have company, not all people are "doggy"... and if you have lots of people over, many times your Basenji will wish to be out of the mix... the crate becomes their haven... so by all means sleep with your Basenji, but crate them also...
And that is what I recommend, visit with a breeder or with folks that have Basenjis, meet them up close and personal... best way to learn about the breed...

I really appreciate all of the replies… the advice & suggestions are invaluable. With everything in perspective, I feel I lot better, and I can't wait to meet some Basenjis! I think we may go meet some this week, and we're both really excited! Thanks again!

Carrie

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