Basenji Victoria

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of the more commonly asked questions about Basenjis!

Fun loving dogs!

Is it true that Basenjis don't bark?

While it is true that Basenjis cannot bark they are capable of letting out a short sharp sound when startled. Although the Basenji is not mute they do make some normal dog sounds such as growling and whining as well as a variety of other “talking” sounds and some Basenjis are very vocal, while others are very quiet! The yodel of the Basenji is a sound that Basenji owners love to hear and is a happy joyful sound usually produced when the dog is happy! The beginning of a yodel can sometimes be mistaken for a growl by unfamiliar people.

Are Basenjis easy to train?

Basenjis are very intelligent dogs and are very quick to learn by positive re-enforcement methods such as clicker training or food reward based methods.

Basenjis are not generally obedience orientated. In the native jungle where they originate they had to be intelligent and crafty enough to survive so they do not follow commands blindly in a similar fashion to some other breeds.

The thing to note with Basenjis is that they are very quick to learn but whether they then choose to obey is another matter. They are quite an independant breed, very cat-like and so will not be happy to blindly obey the same command 50 times in a row to please their owner, they would rather please themselves if they can. They will obey the command a few times and then become bored and prefer something a little more challenging. This is why Basenji owners are often referred to as Basenji slaves and most of us wouldn't want it any other way!

Are basenjis good with children?

Basenjis are not always as tolerant of young children as some of the other more laid back breeds and do not generally tolerate unfair or rough treatment. If you plan to get a puppy, make sure to teach your children to respect the dog and not tease him or pull his curly tail as this can be painful for some Basenjis.

  • Dogs and children should always be supervised and never left alone no matter what breed of dog it is.
  • If the puppy is socialised with well behaved children and has good adult supervision there should not be any problems.
  • Basenjis should never be played with in a rough-house manner by children or adults!
  • Having said the above Basenjis generally love children and particuarly enjoy being with them!

Can Basenjis be let off the lead at the park or beach?

We do not recommend it, unless it is in an area with high, and secure fencing without any large gaps. They can be very easily distracted by things going on around them, and can be gone in a flash and they will not reliably come back when called. We do not recommend even allowing them off lead in designated off lead parks, beaches etc. unless you are very sure that it is in a safe area.

Basenjis are a hunting dog, and their instincts are to follow and chase interesting scents or sights, which makes them particularly vulnerable to traffic if they run loose. The main killer of Basenjis is being hit by a car.

Can Basenjis co-exist with cats?

If the Basenji puppy is raised with a cat they can get along or at least tolerate each other. Bringing an older Basenji who has not been socialised with cats into a home with cats may present problems.

Do Basenjis shed?

Yes, Basenjis shed their coats after winter. However their coats are so short and fine that you’ll hardly notice it at all. A quick grooming session every week with a rubber curry comb or with a “Zoom Groom” will easily remove all the dead winter coat and help to keep the coat in tip top condition.

Do Basenjis have a doggy odour?

Basenjis do not have a doggy odour even when wet. They keep themselves very neat and clean with their catlike grooming methods. Basenjis detest getting dirty and will keep themselves meticulously clean even if they come inside covered in mud, within a few minutes they will be spotlessly clean again.

Are Basenjis destructive?

Basenjis like to chew! Especially during puppyhood, as they get older their need to chew diminishes. We recommend putting anything of value out of their reach and keeping doors to rooms they are not welcome in closed. Providing plenty of exercise and the right chew toys for your basenji should help eliminate the need to chew on “forbidden” objects. Nylabones are excellent toys for puppies and adults as are empty plastic drink bottles (make sure they are well rinsed out).

How often should I trim my Basenjis nails?

Basenji nails grow quite quickly and many need weekly trimming. Many breeders recommend using a grinder (Dremel - available from hardware stores) rather than clippers because the nails can be trimmed faster and with less chance of cutting the quick (the blood supply to the nail which can be painful). Train your puppy to enjoy having his nails done by giving tasty treats often during the nail trimming sessions.

There are a variety of videos on Youtube which demonstrate how to train the dog to allow and even enjoy nail trimming sessions.

Should I feed my Basenji bones?

Yes. Your Basenji will certainly enjoy chewing bones which may provide hours of activity and help to keep teeth clean and gums healthy.
The safest bones to give your dog are either raw brisket bones or large marrowbones.

Cooked bones are quite dangerous. Cooking changes the structure of the bone, making it indigestible and it can easily splinter inside the dog. Raw bones rarely splinter and are fully digestible so are the safest bones for your Basenji. Raw chicken wings and chicken necks are also good.
Dogs should always be supervised when chewing on bones!

Information prepared & compiled by H.Veless for the B.C.O.V