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Country/Date of origin: Central Africa/4000 BC

Thought to have originated in the rain forest of Central Africa in what is now Zaire and the Sudan, but the Basenji was first depicted on the tombs of ancient Egypt. The dogs were most likely tribute offerings to the Pharaohs. The first pair brought to England in 1895 caused a sensation. Early attempts to breed Basenjis in Europe and the US were thwarted by distemper outbreaks. In 1943 the barkless dogs were registered by the American Kennel Club.

Other Names Body Type Personality Coat Health Concerns

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Other names: Zaire Terrier, Barkless Dog, Congo Terrier

AKC Group: Hound

Breed Club: Basenji Club of America

Rescue Club: Linda Ehlers, Missouri, (660) 747-8552, Email:[email protected]

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Body Type:

  • A medium sized, lightly built, compact dog with pricked ears and a curly tail carried to one side of the back
  • A wrinkled forehead is one of the most distinctive features of the breed
  • Height: 16-17 inches (at shoulder)
  • Weight: 21-24 pounds
  • Erect ears are not altered
  • Tightly curled tail is not altered


  • Proud, alert and intelligent
  • Loves to play and will entice you to join by rubbing a paw over its ear and down its face like a cat
  • Tends to be a one-family dog


  • Silky coat has an unusual luster like burnished copper
  • Allowed colors are chestnut red, black, or black-and-tan - all with white feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, white blazes and white collars are optional
  • Brindle coloring has been recently allowed
  • Short coat is low maintenance. Requires only minimal brushing and bathing

Health Concerns:

  • Overall a sturdy breed but heavily inbred
  • Prone to allergic skin diseases
  • Hernias can be a problem
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Tasty Tidbits:
  • This is a dog that cannot bark; the Basenji is not silent however, making yodeling and chortling noises
  • Native hunters tie a wooden bell around the dog's neck to keep track of its whereabouts
  • Basenji means "bush thing"
  • Extremely clean animals; wash themselves like cats
  • Have almost no odor
  • Basenjis are very active
  • They are considered one of the sight hunting hounds and the breed is eligible for AKC coursing events
  • Bitches may come into season only once a year instead of every six months as most breeds do

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