The Basenji is a unique breed of hound dog in that they do not bark. That is not to say they don't make noise, because they are capable of growling, whining and even screaming. Light in the voice, and light on their feet,the Basenji is an agile, energetic and curious breed with a constant yen for adventure.
A Basenji needs lots of exercise. They love to run and jump, and if they do not burn off enough excess energy throughout the day, are prone to destructive chewing. Basenjis have been known to chew through walls when left alone and bored. They need to be walked several times a day and are best served by families with a large, fenced in yard for running. Basenjis can be wary of strangers and small children.
Originally bred to be hunting dogs, basenjis are stimulated by sight. If this breed spots a fast-moving object in the distance, such as a rabbit, or bird, he will take off after it. For this reason Basenjis should not be left off-leash in open areas.
In fenced-in areas, Basenjis should still be watched closely. They can scale fences in a single leap, but if that doesn't work, a curious Basenji will dig under the fence in search of new activities.
Like most other breeds of hound dogs, the Basenji is intelligent and independent and takes time to decide if he will follow a command. Patience and confidence are needed when working with a Basenji. Breeders recommend training and socialization as early as possible to introduce the dog to new people, animals and stimuli. They can grow up to be wary and untrusting of new people and situations if not properly trained.
Highly intelligent, Basenjis enjoy problem-solving activities. If not stimulated enough in this way, this breed will find ways to stimulate themselves, including opening (or even chewing through) cabinets to find food or toys. They excel in agility training as well as lure courses, where dogs chase a mechanical lure around an enclosed track or field.
Basenjis are not for the timid owner. They can be willful and dominant, so confidence is a must. Though they do not bark, Basenjis can howl and even scream, so this is by no means a silent breed.
Destructive behavior can often be a problem with this breed, so when leaving a Basenji alone, problem-solving toys and plenty of bones should be left behind for entertainment.
They can be territorial, thus making them wary of strangers. They can also be aggressive towards other animals, and because they enjoy chasing and hunting so much, families with cats or other small animals should probably not consider adopting a Basenji.