Basenji Questions & Answers
Below are my brief answers to some of the most common questions I receive. If you have any additional questions, or wish for me to elaborate on any of the answers below, feel free to contact me.
These dogs really don't bark?
Basenjis have been bred for thousands of years to be silent hunters and do not bark like a regular dog. However, they are not mute and can make a variety of noises (some enchanting, some unsettling). Basenjis can express themselves by growling, howling, whining, screaming, and yodeling· Some Basenjis, when startled, may make a single "oof" which is about the closest they'll come to a bark. These dogs can make their needs and wants known without making the typical barking or yapping noises. Basenjis are crafty and can use their paws and body language to tell you what is on their minds.
Do Basenjis shed much?
Due to their nice short coats, Basenji fur is not as noticeable as with most other breeds. Routine vacuuming will usually prevent you and your house guests from noticing much dog hair on the furniture.
Are Basenjis hypoallergenic?
Basenjis do have dander. However, many people who have allergies can live with Basenjis. If you are considering this Breed, and suffer from pet allergies, discuss this with your breeder. Most breeders (myself included) will encourage you to spend time at their home on several occasions to see how you fare with the dogs and your allergies.
Why does my Basenji need to be walked on a leash or in a fenced yard?· My dog will love me and I'll train him not to run, right?
Basenjis have been hunting in Africa for hundreds of years. Thinking that they can be broken of their instinctive prey drive is unrealistic.· They will chase a bunny, bird, squirrel, or leaf regardless of what's in their path ~ and that might be a car. Sadly, many Basenjis have been killed due to car accidents. This is one reason electric fences rarely work with Basenjis. because oftentimes they will "take the shock" to chase their prey· If a basenji runs outside their invisible perimeter, he will not want to "take the shock" to return home. Sadly, and in short, a loose Basenji is a dead Basenji. Also, electric fences cannot prevent other dogs from entering your yard.
Do Basenjis make good apartment dogs?
Basenjis can live in apartments, but quite often they do disturb neighbors with their singing or crying when they are left home alone.· Because neighbors are so close and share common walls, Basenjis do not make the best apartment dogs. Your neighbor who works the night shift will not be amused by a crying Basenji at 11:00 AM.
Are Basenjis hyper?
Basenjis are busiest in their first 2 1/2 years of life, and will calm more as they age. They require daily exercise ~ whether it's time to run and play in their fenced yard or by taking walks with their humans.· When very playful or excited, they are known to run through the house, known as The Basenji 500.
Are Basenjis good with children?
Yes, Basenjis get along quite well with children.· I feel compelled to add that whatever breed of dog is being discussed, the children must learn to treat the animal with respect, too. Children should be taught how to play with animals so they don't unintentionally hurt the dog. Dogs are not stuffed toys. They can be hurt and should not be forced to be treated abusively by ill-trained children.
Are Basenjis destructive?
They can be!· Have you ever seen the movie, "Turner and Hooch?"· ~ grin. Granted, Hooch was not a Basenji and these guys aren't quite as destructive as that dog, but he sets a great example to what can happen if a rascally dog is left unattended.
Basenjis are curious creatures who can become quite mischievous ~ especially when bored. To reduce their destructive behavior, crate them when you are not home and provide proper toys that are okay to destroy. Basenjis also love to shred toilet paper, underwear, and garbage.· Dirty laundry and garbage is safest behind a closed door or cabinet. Don't fight it; just accept it!
Can Basenjis be trained?
Basenjis are very smart animals ~ sometimes too smart for their own good! Yes, they are trainable, and short 10-15 minute training sessions are usually best. My dogs generally know the basic "sit, stay, come, and down." Understanding these basic commands are necessary for any dog. We have also taught some of our dogs cute tricks such as "roll-over and dance." The more time and effort you invest in training your dog, the more fun you and your companion will have. Because Basenjis are so intelligent, they do tend to have their own opinions, too! While they know their commands, they may do what is asked in their own time. They're not always as quick to respond to your instructions as some other breeds.
All I want is a pet.· Why are purebred dogs so expensive?
Adopting a dog from a responsible breeder is more than just buying a dog who comes with American Kennel Club (AKC) registration papers and a pedigree. These breeders should spend a lot of money and time in finding two dogs who will compliment each other regarding health, physical structure, and temperament. A responsible breeder is dedicated to preserving the Basenji breed and strives to improve their own dogs while adhering to the written Basenji Standard.· More than likely, at least one parent (if not both) are AKC Champions. The Champion Title tells the puppy adopter that the breeder has tried to breed a dog who conforms to her own unique AKC breed standard by being awarded points by multiple judges at several different dog shows.
The breeder and stud owner will have invested time and money in health testing the parents of diseases unique to each breed (these results will be shared with you).· By the time you are able to take your puppy home, he or she will have all the necessary vaccinations appropriate for his/her age, will possibly have dew claws removed, and socialization and crate training will already be underway. Your breeder will also be available to help you with any questions or problems you may have with your newest member of the family. Depending on the breeder and his/her terms, some form of a written adoption contract will also exist.
Even when all the necessary health testing is done (regardless of the breed), unexpected illnesses and diseases can develop. But, buying a dog from someone who has tried to avoid as many problems as possible vastly decreases your chances for disaster and heartache. I have written more on the subject of Basenji health issues on my Health Information page.
Do Basenjis require a lot of grooming?
No.· I call them the "wash and go" breed. Basenjis like to clean themselves like cats. Thanks to their nice short coats, they only require occasional baths and brushing. Like any dog, they do require routine care such as nail clipping and teeth cleaning.
Are Basenjis good with other dogs?
Basenjis can be aggressive with other dogs, especially dogs of the same sex. It's best to adopt a dog of the opposite sex as that will better ensure both dogs will get along. A male and a female will get along much better than two males or two females. Spaying and neutering can also help maintain harmony among multiple dogs.
Are Basenjis good with cats?
Many people have cats and Basenjis. Because Basenjis are natural hunters who like to chase prey, it's best to introduce your Basenji to cats as a puppy. because when the cat runs, it's an instinctive response for the Basenji to chase it· It's much, much more difficult (sometimes impossible) to introduce an adult Basenji who has never been exposed to a cat.
How do I find a "good" breeder?
Finding a responsible breeder who's involved in breeding for the love of the Breed (rather than to try to make a quick buck) requires effort on your part. Thanks to the internet, an overwhelming amount of information can be obtained during an afternoon in front of the computer. Once you find breeders and contact them, tell them a bit about yourself and ask about their philosophies, breeding practices, health testing, and availability for support to you years down the road. Their answers to your questions will help you to weed-out the "good from the bad." If someone doesn't seem quite "up to snuff," you're probably best in trusting your instinct. Move on to another breeder.