Basenjis have a distinctive appearance, which the AKC calls “smoothly muscular.” They are small dogs who pack a lot of power and are known for their gait which is marked by long, smooth, effortless strides. They should always be elegant and light on their feet. They have long legs and an elegant back, which leads out to a curled tail, which straightens when the dog runs. They carry their heads high and their long faces accented with almond-shaped, dark-rimmed brown eyes. Basenjis ears are small, erect, and slightly hooded. Their foreheads are wrinkled – a characteristic that is more exaggerated in puppyhood. Basenjis sport short, fine coats that come in several color variations: chestnut red, black, brindle (black stripes over chestnut base), or tricolor (black and chestnut), all with white feet, chests and tail tips. Some people compare the Basenji's appearance to that of a miniature deer.
Size and Weight
Basenjis are typically 16 inches at the shoulder for females and 17 inches at the shoulder for males and weigh between 22 and 24 pounds. They are strong, athletic dogs who are more powerful than their size may indicate.
This breed is very light on its feet and are known for their distinctive, effortless gait. When they run, strides should be long, effortless and form straight lines. When they are moving normally, Basenjis always trot swiftly and proudly.
Coat and Color
Basenjis sport short, fine coats that come in several color variations: chestnut red, black, brindle (black stripes over chestnut base), or tricolor (black and chestnut). All should have white feet, chests, and tail tips. Some have white blazes at the center of the face and still others sport white collars – a ring of white around the neck. White, however, should never be the primary color of the dog.
Basenjis are very clean dogs who groom themselves with the vigilance of a cat. They do not emit a “dog odor” and should only require bathing once every few months. Their coats shed lightly year round, but the hair is short and the shedding is manageable for even the most picky housekeeper. Weekly brushing can help to eliminate stray hairs found about the house.
Weekly cleaning of teeth and ears can help keep bad breath and ear infections at bay. Active Basenjis will wear their nails down naturally, but if necessary, clip nails once per month.