Very few dogs can match the dignity and grace which the basenji dog displays. The breed also possesses an impressive degree of power and athleticism which, despite its size, makes it a good hunting companion. Its temperament is best described as active and alert, aloof to strangers but affectionately close to a single human to whose company it has become used. Known for the low sounds it produces due to the unusual shape of its larynx, the dog is also known for its nickname “The Barkless Dog”. It is also a very intelligent breed, which responds well to ordinary training.
Given suitable conditions, the basenji dog is not difficult to care for. It needs enough space for a lot of exercise though, being a very active breed. It enjoys the company of other basenjis, which may serve as its playmates and which also helps it maintain its active lifestyle. Oftentimes behavior problems arise when the dog is left alone, or is deprived of enough opportunity to exert physical effort. It is also a very “clean” dog, in that it washes itself the same way a cat does and exhibits no smell characteristic of most dog breeds. It loses very little hair, which makes it a good pet for people with asthma and other allergies. Also, the breed dislikes water and wet weather.
People who attach easily to animals, who are patient enough to take dogs for a long walk, and who enjoy playing with their pets make suitable masters to the basenji dog. The breed displays an admirable sense of loyalty, but can be very reserved when it comes to strangers. Being a hunting dog, it loves to chase small animals and even small objects thrown at its way. Thus, non-canine pets should not be entrusted to its company. Despite its high-level of activity, the breed is relatively silent, meaning that it makes noise very infrequently. This trait often leads to a mismatch between pet and owner, because most owners misinterpret “silent” as inactive. Thus the dog is a shining example of a silent dog with a high level of activity.
The basenji dog originated from Africa, and was a favorite pet of Egypt’s Pharaohs. Remains of it dating from the first to the second century A.D. were even found in Athens. The breed was first noted by Europeans coming to Congo in the late nineteenth century. The Europeans noted the esteem which the breed enjoys from the Congans and, brushing aside disputes as to its actual intelligence, considered the dog as a suitable hunting assistant. Attempts were made to bring the breed to Great Britain, but it took until the 1930s to successfully establish a stock in England. Americans followed suit, and the breed spread into the New World.