Virtually every article with Basenji info starts with mention of their being the barkless dog breed from deep in the Congo in Africa. And yes, Basenjis DO trace their roots to Africa, but they are anything but silent. From blood-curdling screams to yodels to whines that have a range any opera singer would envy… African Basenji dogs make themselves heard!
At one time the African Basenji dog 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 temperament of Basenji dogs who were the best hunters would have allowed them to be 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 a Basenji's temperament today. Some consider the barkless dog breed a little bit TOO smart. African Basenji dogs 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 African Basenji dog is much the same. Also, the strong hunting DNA that courses through the barkless dog breed's veins gives them a very high prey drive, so exercise caution with African Basenji dogs 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 African Basenji dog may be just the pet for you. If you want a dog to cuddle with as you Netflix binge, you might keep looking.