Basenjis are one of the most ancient dog breeds. They were first described in 1667 by the English naturalist John Hunter. According to him, they were a small black dog with a reddish brown coat. Their appearance was similar to that of the wolf or fox but their color was different from both. They had two white stripes running down each side of their bodies and a dark spot on top of their heads which resembled a crescent moon. The breed name “bas” means “wolf” in Latin. The word “jasmine” comes from the Arabic words jasmin meaning “white”, and marin meaning “rose”.
The Basenji is considered as one of the oldest dog breeds in existence. It was used mainly for hunting purposes during the Middle Ages, when it was still common to hunt with dogs.
However, because of its size, its endurance and agility made them popular among hunters even today. Some believe that the Basenji is descended from the mastiff type of dog.
In 1871, Charles Darwin published his book “On the Origin of Species” where he discussed how species evolve over time. He believed that all living things have evolved through natural selection and that some animals are better adapted than others at surviving in certain environments.
One such animal was a canine like the Basenji which could survive harsh conditions better than other types of animals.
The name “Basenji” comes from the Malinke word basengi, which means “dog that barks rarely”. Basenjis are also known as the tick dogs because they were used in Africa to rid the land of ticks and other parasites.
They also are known as the “barkless dog”, and are sometimes referred to as the African Barkless Dog or the Congo Dog. This is due to their unique vocal abilities or rather their lack of it. Unlike most other dog breeds the Basenji is unable to bark. Instead they make a wide range of sounds which include a sort of “whee-er” sound that could be considered their version of a bark.
The Basenji was first brought to Europe in 1937. They were immediately embraced by the public and became very popular.
It was at this time that the American Kennel Club started to recognize the breed and it was registered in 1943.
During World War II the breed experienced a bit of a decline in popularity because many humans were focused on aiding the war effort rather than worrying about dog shows and breeding. However, the breed recovered quickly after the war ended and once again became the object of affection for the general public.
The Basenji Club of America was established in 1948 and continues to serve as an official governing body over all matters regarding the breed.
It was not until the mid-1970s that the Basenji made its way to Europe. It remained rare for a long time but has recently enjoyed somewhat of a boom in popularity.
Nowadays, the Basenji is considered a rare dog breed and is fairly expensive. Some people believe that this is due to the fact that they are no longer seen as working dogs, but rather as pampered family pets.
When compared to other breeds of dog the Basenji is considered to be an excellent choice for people who live in apartments or places where there is limited space. They do not require excessive amounts of exercise and can often entertain themselves with a simple toy.
They are also known to be very lively and intelligent enough to remain entertained when their owners are away during the day. They also do not typically have many medical issues and have a maximum life span of around 15-16 years.
Due to their size the Basenji makes an excellent apartment dog. They do not need excessive amounts of exercise and can easily keep themselves entertained with a toy or with exploring their surroundings.
Because they are no longer used as working dogs they do not require their owner’s constant attention.
The Basenji is an extremely friendly breed when it comes to meeting other people. They can however be somewhat reserved when meeting new dogs.
On the other hand they love the company of humans and will follow their owners wherever they go. This is especially true when it comes to children. The Basenji is an excellent breed for families with children as they genuinely enjoy their company, are very tolerant and the children are more than willing to play with them.
The Basenji is very intelligent and easily trainable. They learn commands relatively quickly and enjoy pleasing their owners.
They are however somewhat independent and can become stubborn when training is not done with a firm hand.
The Basenji is very energetic and loves to play. However, they do not require excessive exercise.
Due to their size they should never be left outdoors unattended as they can easily slip under fences. Even if they are left outdoors in a fenced yard they should always be kept on a leash when outside as they have a strong prey drive and will immediately give chase to anything that runs.
When in a home with no yard they should at least be taken out for a long walk or given the chance to play in a courtyard several times a day.
As is common with most hound breeds, the Basenji is known to have a very high-pitched bark that can easily get out of control if not trained. Most owners train their dogs to only bark when there is a reason for them to do so.
The Basenji requires a moderate amount of grooming. Their smooth coat is easy to maintain and only really requires brushing once every couple of days.
They are average shedders and shed most during major changes in the weather. Ears should be checked regularly and cleaned if necessary. Their teeth should also be kept in good condition, most owners schedule regular trips to the vet for teeth cleaning and treatment.
One of the biggest issues that owners of the Basenji breed face is their tendency to indulge in behavior which is generally considered to be “bad”. They are notorious for eating everything in sight whenever they get the chance, including any trash laying around.
They also have a habit of chewing on just about anything they find laying around the house. These two traits often result in sickness due to eating things they shouldn’t and various trips to the vet. It is important to keep an eye on them whenever there are potentially harmful objects lying around.
Due to their playful nature and intelligence, the Basenji can become bored easily if they do not have enough attention or physical activity. They are relatively active dogs and even a daily walk will not always keep them satisfied.
A large back yard is beneficial to these dogs but it certainly isn’t necessary.
The Basenji is a relatively healthy breed, however they may be prone to a few health issues such as heart problems, liver shunt and thyroid disease. Due to their size they do not need excessive exercise so a brisk daily walk should be more than enough to keep them healthy and happy.
Due to their history of being raised in a somewhat feral manner, Basenjis are generally not well-suited for living in apartments or other confined areas due to their tendency to bark excessively and their need for a great deal of exercise. For the same reason they do not make good guard dogs as they are very friendly towards most strangers.
Overall the Basenji is an interesting breed that is relatively uncommon in most parts of the world today. They are excellent companions for those who can provide them with plenty of attention and activity.
Sources & references used in this article:
The effects of dog breed development on genetic diversity and the relative influences of performance and conformation breeding by N Pedersen, H Liu, G Theilen… – … of Animal Breeding and …, 2013 – Wiley Online Library
Origin of dog breed diversity by C Vilà, JA Leonard – The Behavioural Biology of Dogs, 2007 – books.google.com
Genome-wide SNP and haplotype analyses reveal a rich history underlying dog domestication by JP Pollinger, KE Lohmueller, E Han, HG Parker… – Nature, 2010 – nature.com