Virtually every article about the Basenji starts with mention of their being the barkless dog from deep in the Congo in Africa. And yes, Basenjis DO trace their roots to Africa, but they are anything but silent. From blood curling screams, to yodels, to whines that have a range any opera singer would envy...the Basenji makes themselves heard!
At one time the Basenji was considered one of the original "ancient breed of dogs", but a recent study has shown they are not. It seems there was some dabbling with the Middle Eastern wolves eons ago. If not one of the nine ancient breeds. they are still considered one of the 13 really, really old breeds.
The Basenji may have curled up next to ancient fires in Africa a couple of thousands years ago. The quieter dogs who were the best hunters would have been the ones who got to stay by the fire and thus, a quieter, excellent strain of small game hunting dogs were developed.
Along with the ability to hunt wild game in the jungles of Africa came the ability to think their own, independently of the hunters who followed them into the jungles. This intelligence is very evident in today's Basenji. Some consider them a little bit TOO smart. They have no inherent desire top please humans, they consider us either equals or minions, I suppose.
Intelligent dogs that are independent thinkers are quite often escape artists. Our dear Zoe, a Great Pyrenees, never met a fence she couldn't get out of and the Basenji is much the same. Also, the strong hunting DNA that courses through the Basenji gives them a very high prey drive, so exercise caution with Basenjis and anything they may consider prey.
Basenjis in Africa were expected to trot, run, jump and climb all day, every day. They literally had to work for their supper AND help provide for the entire village. This high energy level is still found in today's Basenjis. If they don't have a positive release for all that energy, such as daily runs with an athletic owner, they can (probably will) tear stuff up. As in entire living rooms, not just the sofa!
If you want a high energy, intelligent, independent dog, the Basenji may be just the dog for you. If you want a dog to cuddle with as you Netflix binge, you might keep looking.
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