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10 Awesome Facts About Basenji


Did you know that Basenji is 100% an African dog? Straight from one of the largest African countries – Congo. When you think about animals in Africa you probably think first about wild and enormous animals like lions, giraffes, and hippos. Not a dog. But, this dog is anything but ordinary. They are excellent tree climbers, superb hunting and cat-like dogs. Learn more about this barkless dog.

1. They Were Pharaon’s Best Friends

This Congolese hunting dog goes way back. They have been around for so long that we have evidence of them in ancient Egyptian caves and ancient drawings. Also, they were best buddies with the most powerful pharaohs. Moreover, they have been around as far back as 4000 BCE. Originally, they are from today’s Congo (Central Africa) and they were probably kept as hunting companions. Furthermore, historians believe that they were introduced to ancient Egyptians as a gift. Also, the pharaons of Egypt loved this dog for their cat-like personalities and their extremely clean coats.

2. They Were Mummified

Mummification in ancient Egypt was reserved for only the highest circles of society, like pharaons and high rulers. Also, for Basenji’s. Egyptians believed that if they take everything that they love with them to the tomb, they will have in the Afterlife as well. This belief is supported with the fact that today, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has a Babylonian bronze statue of a basenji and its owner. Talking about best friends, no? The first illustration of this curly-tailed canine was found in tombs of the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

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3. They’re Superb Hunters

Basenji’s have muscle and well-developed body that’s built to hunt. Initially, they were bred for hunting. What makes them separate from other hunting dog’s is the fact that they use their strong smell and keen eyesight during the hunt. For example, Greyhounds will use just their sight, while Beagles will use just their smell. Moreover, like a hound dog, Basenji’s learned how to be quiet because people preferred quiet dogs during their hunt. Interestingly, some tribes in Africa valued Basenji more than a wife, because of their hunting skills.

4. They Are Barkless

They do not bark as other dogs do. As a hunting dog, they are extremely well in adjusting to different surroundings. They learned that people prefer silent dogs during the hunt and Basenji’s simply worked around that preference. Therefore, they are known as a quiet breed. Being ‘barkless’ means that they bark only once and then go silent. Interestingly, this move is peculiar for their far and distant relative – wild wolf. From the medical side, they are barkless because of their flat larynxes that disable their full barking. Therefore, they switched traditional bark for more a yodel sound.

5. They Are Real Kings Of The Jungle

In Kenya, Basenji’s are used for specific hunting purposes. They were used to lure lions out of their caves, That’s right – lions are no match for them. Masai hunters use about three or four of these dogs at a time, in one hunt, to find lions and get them out in the open. Once the lions are in the open, it’s easier for hunters to catch them. Once a lion leaves the safety of its well-protected cave, hunters form a circle around this extraordinary big cat and catch it.

6. African Bush Dog

Literature noted this dog under several names – usually tribal variations, ‘Bongo’, Nyam-Nyam (pronounced Yum-Yum), ‘Congo Terrier’, and also ‘Zande’. Ituri, people of the rainforest, called this dog Basenchi, or ‘little bush thing’. Basenjis are also known as ‘up and down dogs’ because of their ability to run on all four and habit of jumping and bouncing. In addition, they have earned their name thanks to their ability to see above the tall ‘Elephant grass’.

7. Getting Them To Europe Was Complex

People who fell in love with this ‘little bush thing’ wanted to bring it to Europe back in the 19th century. However, there were numerous attempts that failed. The reason for failing was that in the majority of the cases dogs would die as soon as they set their paw into the European ground. This rare dog was exposed to a number of health-related issues. Fanconi’s syndrome was the leading problem that was solved thanks to an adequate vaccine. Also, because of this past condition, it’s crucial to get this dog from a legitimate breeder.

8. Training Basenji Is Not Easy

Basenji’s are independent dogs. In their world, it means that they can be unresponsive and self-guiding. This cat-like dog only bond with one or two humans and they prefer doing things on their own. Basenji needs firm training and early socialization. Especially when a dog has so determined mind as Basenji has. Therefore, arm yourself with extra patience, because this dog with a ton of energy requires it. Make sure that your training skills exceed Basenji’s persistent personalities.

9. You Can’t Catch Basenji

Bear in mind that this is the dog that can lure the lions out in the open. Simply said, they are super-fast. Most dogs run by touching the ground with at least one foot. But, hunting dogs like Whippets, Greyhounds and Basenjis use a double suspension gallop when running. It means that during the run they use double front legs to push at the same time and double two legs to toss off their body. That’s how they get their ‘antelope’ running and jumping style. Remember, if your Basenji goes without the leash, you will not be able to catch him. Keeping your Basenji on the leash during your walks should be a no-brainer. Furthermore, your backyard should have a high fence, because this feline-like spirit may use any tie as a ladder easily. Don’t forget – they climb trees.

10. They’re Extremely Clean Dogs

There are certain breeds that are brush-and-go-dogs, and fortunately, Basenji is one of them. Their coat is short and soft. In addition, they don’t shed much. These cat-like dogs are known for being clean and they do a major part of cleaning by himself. Their paws and coat are always clean – you can see them often being quiet and licking their coat. They barely need a bath.

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