The beginnings of the Basenji are subject to conjecture, with some attributing its early origin to the palaces of Egyptian pharoahs some 5,000 years ago. Others suggest that the Basenji, as we know it today, originated from the African Congo, utilised as a guide through the forests, flushing and retrieving small game and warning of approaching predators. The first Basenjis arrived in Britain in 1936 and later appeared in the United States and Canada, being recognised by the AKC in 1943. The Basenji falls within the 'hound' breed group, sharing its classification with the Bloodhound, Whippet, Greyhound and Beagle.
Perhaps its most distinctive trait is the Basenji's lack of bark; the breed is infamously quiet and unique in this way, although will communicate through yowling, yodelling and screaming. A small, athletic breed, the Basenji is characteristically curious and energetic, often disappearing to discover new terrain and venture through one's personal belongings. It is commonly said that the owner of a Basenji should possess a certain sense of humour, as well as patience and understanding. The coat of the breed is typically short and close, common in colour deviations of chestnut, black, copper, red, white, brindle and tan. Upright, triangular ears and a high-set, curled tail further characterise the breed.
Whilst the breed might appear restless in its daily endeavours, the Basenji is generally contented and relaxed, displaying affection, loyalty and devotion to its master and family. Self-confident and independent-minded, the Basenji may sometimes appear stubborn and disobedient, so firm leadership and consistent obedience training is essential from puppyhood. The Basenji is the ideal breed choice for active families or the dedicated sole owner. On average, a healthy Basenji will weigh 9-12 kg depending on its gender, with a life expectancy of 10-12 years.
Despite being typically healthy and resilient, the Basenji is susceptible to numerous genetic and breed-specific disorders, including intestinal and bowel disease, thyroid complaints and optical disorders. The Basenji is also prone to a serious condition known as Fanconi Syndrome, a disease that affects the kidneys and requires immediate treatment.