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The Basenji resembles those depicted in tomb paintings from ancient Egypt, and has primitive characteristics, such as a tendency to howl rather than bark, that seem to show it is an ancient breed. The story of the Basenji breed today begins in the 1930s with dogs bought from Africa to Europe and originally called Congo Dogs.

Much credit for the sturdy Basenji of today goes to Veronica Tudor Williams, who traveled through the remotest areas of Africa in search of specimens to better the strain. One of these dogs, Fula, was a superb bitch that contributed much to the breed.

Basenji are small, unusual, elegant, athletic dogs about the size of a fox terrier, with a smooth shiny coat of copper, red, black and tan, black and brindle. Usually with white feet and white on the chest and tip of the tail. Individuals may also sport a white facial blaze, white legs and/or a white collar. The back is level; the legs are long, and the forehead is furrowed with wrinkles, giving it a worried look. The ears are straight and open in the front and its tail is set high and curls up over and slightly to either side of the back. Its eyes are small and almond shaped. Its thighs are muscular, and it has a flat skull.

The breed has a distinctive, horse-like running gait. The Basenji does not bark, but does have a lot of other unusual vocalizations. He may yodel, howl, growl or crow, depending on his mood. Unlike most other domestic breeds, which have two heats per year, the female Basenji comes into heat only once a year.

The Basenji is alert, affectionate, energetic and curious. It loves to play and makes a good pet, as long as it is handled regularly from an early age. It is very intelligent, responds well to training with a strong desire to please. They can be reserved with strangers, socialize well. The Basenji is somewhat aloof, but can also form strong bonds with people. It should not be trusted with non-canine pets.

They do best with children who understand how to display leadership towards the dog. The Basenji dislike wet weather. They like to chew, so giving them lots of toys of their own would be a good idea. The breed likes to climb and can easily get over chain wire fences.

They need daily exercise to release mental and physical energy. Basenji are very clever at getting their own way, they succeed less by obstinacy than by charm, and therefore need an owner who displays natural authority. One who makes rules and sticks to them. Calm, but firm, confident and consistent Basenji who have meek or passive owners, or owners who are not consistent with the rules will become demanding.

For more information on the Basenji.

Websites related to Basenji Breeders, Clubs and Rescue Groups.

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