The Basenji, also known as the African Barkless Dog, the Belgian Congo Dog, the African Bush Dog, the Congo Bush Dog, the Congo Hunting Terrier, the African Dingo, the Ango Angari, the Avuvi, the Congo Dog, the Congo Terrier, the Egyptian Dingo and the Zande dog, is one of the oldest of all dog breeds. “Basenji” in African means “Little Thing of the Bush.” Native names for the Basenji include M’bwa M’kubwa M’bwa Wanwitu, which means “the jumping-up-and-down Dog.” Basenjis were brought from the source of the Nile as gifts to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. This small, silky athletic dog, with its tightly twisted tail and up-pricked ears, has been an all-purpose hunting and companion dog for thousands of years. It is both a scenthound and a sighthound and has been trained both to point and to retrieve. It makes a wonderful urban companion, as long as it gets an enormous amount of regular exercise to satisfy its nearly limitless energy. The Basenji Club of America was formed in the mid-1940s, and the Basenji was accepted into the American Kennel Club for registration into the Hound Group in 1943.
The Basenji is one of the most unusual of all domestic dogs. Basenjis do not bark; instead, they yodel, chortle, howl, growl and/or crow. When on alert, the skin on their forehead wrinkles into an unusual shape that gives them a very worried look. They only have one breeding season a year, while most domestic dogs have at least two. They groom themselves fastidiously, like a cat will do, and are cat-like in other ways as well. They tend to favor green vegetables, which should be part of their regular diet.
Basenjis are small, compact dogs, with an average height of 16 to 17 inches at the shoulders and weighing on average between 22 and 24 pounds. Their coat is one of their most admirable features: it is short and fine, shines in the sun and never loses its brilliant luster. Acceptable coat colors are chestnut red, pure black, tricolor and brindle. All should have white feet, chest and tail tip, with white legs, blaze and collar being optional but acceptable as well. Minimal grooming is required for this breed.