Questions from a potential new owner

  • Hello All,

    I've been reading all the threads from people in similar situations to mine, thinking about getting a Basenji in the near future. I just have a couple questions that I have not come across answers to, although I'm sure they've been asked at some point in time. A bit about my situation first, then on to the questions!

    My longtime bf and I live in a suburb of Orlando, FL in a townhouse with a small, non-fenced backyard. We are, however, 1/4 mile from a county-wide trail (paved, mostly joggers and bicyclists) that we can use for long walks. I'm in the process of obtaining my MLS degree and as such will be gone for a max of 6 hours a day for the next year. My boyfriend works at a company that is dog-friendly, as long as the dog shows restaint in chewing. Both of us had dogs as family pets growing up (his a minature poodle who lives with his parents, and mine a lab/shepard mix who is in doggie-heaven as of almost 3 years ago). This will be our first pet together.

    1- I know Bs have a fairly long life span, and we do plan on having children in the next five years, wondering how Bs usually react to a new little person in the home?
    2- How long on average does it take them to grow out of the chewing? I'm interested because when I find a full time job in a year (hopefully) I'd like our pup to be able to go to work with my bf.
    3-How are they with other dogs? I know they have "big dog" mentality, but my dad visits a lot with his 65lb Doberman and 110lb Labradoodle….Any guesses as to how that meeting might go?
    4- So many people say Bs are independent... I'm not concerned about ignoring my command to "sit" or "come" as much as I am the possible lack of cuddling. I am concerned it will not be "the best thing in the world" for them when I come home in the evenings, and that might be a deal breaker for me.
    5- If anyone knows of any Basenji groups and/or owners in the Orlando area please let me know. I have read all about them and think its a good choice for us, but I know I won't be sure until I meet at least one in person.

    I know there are no 100% "right" answers, but any personal experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading this horribly long post, and thanks in advance for your insight!


  • Hi Sarah,
    Welcome to the Basenji Forum! I hope you take some time to read the great stories and ancedotes that people have shared… the first rule of basenjis is that YOU don't own them, THEY own you! 🙂

    Whether you live in a closet or out in the middle of the forest, the place you live in doesn't really matter. Basenjis will adapt to their surroundings, as long as there is love and humor in the building. As long as you are dedicated to keeping your dog active, you will be fine...

    I've lived with three basenjis, and all of them are different concerning the chewing. We were blessed to have Lucy for 6 years, and we knew what she would "chew".... some garbage, especially bathroom garbage cans, and ladies dirty "laundry", if I can give you the hint? Lesson learned: don't leave that stuff accessible to basenjis! As long as you direct your basenji to certain items that are ok to chew, there won't be problems.

    At dog parks, basenjis LOVE to socialize. Most basenjis don't like to be told what to do, but if they think "it" is their idea, they will do what they should do. In my experience, as long as you don't try to baby your basenji, he/she will be receptive to company.

    As for cuddling, it is something that every basenji will master. They will cuddle, and burro into your covers, and then find a sliver of sunshine in the dining room at 10 am.... but trust me, basenjis cuddle. Personally, I think they cuddle so that you HAVE to forgive them for their natural playfullness (aka naughtiness) from the day. 🙂
    Lastly there are basenji groups in Tampa that meet on Sunday mornings, for sure. If you want to kknow more details, email me or MacPack for information. At the bare bottom, you will understand better if this pup is for you. 🙂 Patty

  • Basenjis are hounds and most have a high prey drive so they should not be off leash unless in an enclosed area. This is a deal breaker for many people when I talk about my Bs. I think a lot of potential owners want a dog they can let out the front door, have it do its business, and come back inside.

    You need to acquire your B from a good breeder who does health testing and socializes their Bs, both pups and adults. You will need to continue the socialization with classes, etc. I have taken mine to doggy day care and dog parks.

    A tired B is a good B and a lot of exercise will help prevent a lot of chewing. You will need to B proof your place as in keeping things up out of the way, especially garbage.

    I always crate train my Bs and they are in crates during the day when I am gone.

    At night my Bs usually sleep with me and the majority want under the covers between my legs. Sometimes they will sleep on top or on a chair if they get too warm. Even though they sleep with me, I do not consider Bs to be cuddly dogs. Although I do have one that when I am on the couch, he sometimes will try to climb on my lap. He weighs 25 lbs. so I have to move him off of me.


  • @smtfsu11:

    1- I know Bs have a fairly long life span, and we do plan on having children in the next five years, wondering how Bs usually react to a new little person in the home?

    Sadly, a lot of Basenjs are given up when a new baby comes into the home. It is usually mistakes made by the owners while raising the Basenji that cause problems rather than natural temperament issues though.

    2- How long on average does it take them to grow out of the chewing?

    Some maintain a huge desire to chew throughout their lives while others can slow down once they reach adulthood. I tell people that I start to like Basenjis when they reach 3 years old.<vbg>

    3-How are they with other dogs? I know they have "big dog" mentality, but my dad visits a lot with his 65lb Doberman and 110lb Labradoodle….Any guesses as to how that meeting might go?

    If the puppy is well socialized then encounters with strange dogs can go smoothly. That said, some Basenjis simply do not like strange dogs, period.

    4- So many people say Bs are independent… I'm not concerned about ignoring my command to "sit" or "come" as much as I am the possible lack of cuddling. I am concerned it will not be "the best thing in the world" for them when I come home in the evenings, and that might be a deal breaker for me.

    Nineteen years in the breed and multiple litters during that time and I can tell you that the overwhelming majority of Basenjis love to have contact with their owners. Obedience is a challenge. They learn quickly but they are prone to selecting when they will listen and when they won't.</vbg>

  • We have one member who have chronicled her pregnancy and life with baby and basenjis that are amazing and wonderful. Started out with very well socialized dogs, not "spoiled" dogs who thought they were the boss, and worked all during pregnancy to have the dogs ready for baby. The dogs (intact males) ADORE the baby, the cat, etc.

    That said, this happy ending requires a lot of work and prep on the human side, then being aware and attuned to the dog and the baby, making things work out.

    But, as Robyn says, many basenjis come into rescue a few months after the baby comes! Humans are exhausted, no time for dog and exercise, dog is ignored, pretty soon dog is chewing or growling, next stop, rescue or shelter. You think, oh this could never happen to us, but for many, having a baby is overwhelming.

    I don't say that to discourage you, just to keep your mind open and be aware that it surely can work, and beautifully, but it will take effort. I usually ask people what they call a dog grabbing a kid with his mouth, maybe as a snap, but doesn't leave a mark…is that a 'bite' or a 'correction'? If they say, oh no, that is a bite and I won't have a dog that bites, I tell them a basenji may not be for you. Not to say that they are biters, but I have seen more than one 'correct' a child that sure made them straighten up, made the humans run to rescue, found tears and not a scratch or red spot. The dog very carefully used his mouth to correct my grandson, who calmed right down and was a better little toddler after that.

    Chewing? My almost 13 year old will grab a shoe if left unattended, but my boys never touch anything. They are all adults of course, I don't take anything under 2, but most are done with 'evil' chewing by 1 or 2.

    We have one cuddle bug, you can't sit down without Eddie on you. The other two will lie beside you off and on, all love to be snuggled and petted, all sleep under the covers.

    There are some, though, that just aren't cuddly, depends on the dog.

    They do have lovely long lives, though!

    It is good to really think through a big decision like bringing a new member into your family, but you can think too much! Sometimes you just have to go with your gut and jump into basenji-mania. As Patty said, we have a group that meets every Sunday for a couple of hours here in Tampa, any time you want to do a road trip to meet basenjis, just let me know and I'll give you directions and be sure we have a good turnout.

  • I agree with everything that has been posted 🙂 You sound like a great potential home for a Basenji; and I think the amount of work you are doing prior to getting a puppy shows that you would be committed to doing the prep work to preparing the dog to add a baby to the family.

    We have five Basenjis currently, and three kids (6 yo boy, and 2 yo twin boys). All of our dogs like to cuddle. The youngest one takes longer to settle down to cuddle, because he is very busy. But the older ones will simply wait for us to sit down so they can sit in a lap. But they ONLY do this with family. The don't care to cuddle up to non-family visitors.

    And mine have never cared to socialize with other dogs….to the point of ridiculousness in some cases. I haven't really figured out why....But it certainly CAN be an issue with Basenjis.

  • Over the years I have had a total of 4 different beasties (oop I mean basenjis) and each has been different.
    The adults that arrived never had chewing problems but the youngster I now have took about a year to get that out of her system (couch and chair foam was especially susceptible).
    Traditional style obedience training didn't work but the clicker/reward style brings super fast results - but as PattyM said if they think the command was their idea they will "obey" faster.
    My first male loved to curl up on my lap (especially in winter), my second prefererred to curl next to me, the third didn't at all, and the current one prefers simply sitting on my lap but not curling up (makes it difficult to watch TV!).
    All of mine, and especially the current one, have had exceptionally strong hunting instincts (its the breed). When in hunting mode, nothing would distract them from their prey (not fish treats, not my voice, not a car) so be aware of surroundings when you take yours for a walk or simply exit the building (can you handle the occasional dead rabbit,bird,chipmunk?).
    Can't speak to the baby issue but mine all did well with neighborhood children and all but one did well with guests.
    They are inquisitive little beasties and as such can get into trouble in the house if they don't have their own stimulating toys. And be sure to either place your christmas tree (if you have one) up higher off the floor or leave the bottom two feet or so empty of ornaments and wires.
    And most of all be prepared to have your heart stolen!

  • Glad you found us. You have a lot of great advice here.

  • I'll comment on the child aspect first. I certainly did not intend to have anymore children in my house, however, my daughter's marriage broke up and she moved back home with my 2 1/2 year old grandson. All of the dogs have been great. Teach the child to respect the dog and all should be good. I have told people that intend to have children that took one of my older pups to make sure they keep the connection with children in the pups' life. By the way my dogs ages are 12, 7, 5, 5, 3, and 9 months.

    As for cuddling, although all of mine are independant, they like to cuddle as well and will lay all over anyone reclining on the couch.

    Crates are an important part of a dogs life IMO.

  • Look up the posts from our member Buana (lots of pics, too!). Buana and her son Ryan are a wonderful team. Buana is very protective of Ryan, naps with him, plays with him, etc. Their relationship is quite lovely!

  • I can share my findings of B's from a first timer owners point of view.

    I have lived with Dobes for many a long year, but decided to go for a smaller breed as an addition to our household. I'd researched the breed for a long while, waited until I was sure that they were for me then chose a really good breeder who health tested and took care over her B's

    Even armed with all this info it didn't prepare me for just how different b's are. They are independant thinkers, everything is done because they deem it in their best interests My training methods had to change, Dobes are very human orientated B's not so much. He's not that good with other dogs especially hairy ones !!! but OK with the ones he knows. You soon learn. He is aloof with strangers but loves his family and friends.

    All in all they can be blackmailers and heartwarmers !!!! I am the first one to admit I've made mistakes this time around, but we have come through it. I am still learning and take advice from those more experienced than me. I love Cooper to pieces, he is funny, entertaining, exhausting and frustrating and that can all happen within the space of an hour. Would I have another one… bet. Good Luck in your hunt. Like the others say make sure you go to a good breeder who health tests.

  • Had dogs all my life, Rotties for 22 yrs, first basenji only 9 yrs ago so relative newbie to basenjis… not dogs.

    Almost all dogs and babies is a question of training and the owner, not the dog. If you are going to wait for a child a few years til the basenji is an adult, then you should have the dog trained by then. Socialize the heck out of it with infants to children. Prepare.

    Chewing... bwahahahaha. Okay, ahem. Someone on the aol rottie board said how much did one cost and the breeder said.. I don't know, how much is your home furnishings worth? Some never stop, some never stop but slow down to the absolute irresistible items, some stop. Plan on using a crate when not supervised for life. If you are lucky and a nondestroyer, great. But if the idea of using a crate forever isn't an option, either adopt an adult who doesn't need crating when unattended or consider another breed.

    Socialize, socialize, socialize. Most basenji are not wild about new dogs. But some who are out from puppyhood meeting new dogs all the time can and do like it. But this takes work and commitment on your part. Since I don't believe in dog parks and dog play dates with strange dogs, I never bother. I teach mine to ignore other dogs and figure as long as they learn "leave it" life is good. Dogs really aren't children who need outsiders to be okay... their own pack including humans, a couple of playmates if you don't have another dog, and life is complete. So socialize with your dad's dogs early, don't force things, should be fine if THEY are good with the B.

    Independent doesn't mean not bonded. That said, my 2nd B came with little socialization and she is well, let's be honest. She likes to be rubbed and fed. But it is a very distant relationship. Not feeding or petting? She has no need to be close. Yes, she wants me to go outside with her but I am at a loss to why since she doesn't come near once out there. But my first and 3rd are velcro. They want to be close, they cuddle, they LOVE and gaze with love. Since the 2nd is the double (half sibling breeding) niece of the first, it wasn't genetics that messed her up, it was a POS breeder who didn't bother to handle or care for her. Enough said. Both the others won't go to bed without me. Sayblee wouldn't even get under the covers. Cara gets under but sticks her head out to watch me. She curls with my child the second she gets on the bed, lays on her. Curls next to me all night, sits close, asks to be picked up and cuddled. I don't think you have to worry about a dog not bonding.

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