The Basenji is a primitive dog, and one that was known to ancient civilisations, that has learnt to live with man through the millennia by being smart – with most of the time trying to outsmart the household. They are not a compliant breed, and you have to convince them that what they are about to do is good for them; otherwise you should go and get a ‘clockwork’ dog that you can wind up and point in the right direction. They will look at you “silly” if you throw a ball or stick and expect them to fetch it.
They are low maintenance inasmuch they usually don’t need much veterinary attention, but still enjoy their coat brushing and nail trimming, but I still like to have another opinion on their general health on an annual basis. Mine are fed Raw Beef Brisket Bones (RBBB) to keep their teeth in good shape. The advantage of RBBB is that the whole bone is consumed leaving neither shards nor lumps to squabble over, at a later time. The complete brisket bone is sawn up into the size that I request, so that all of the Basenjis get to gnaw away on the bone, and it diverts their attention away from chewing other more precious items – like shoes, trousers, underwear, wallets, and any other item that is of interest at the time. There was a by-line on the Basenji List that stated: “A Basenji is a slob’s best friend” as they teach you not to leave things in reach of their paws and mouth.
Most Basenjis dislike being rained on, which includes bathing, but mine do not mind going through puddles and even swimming, paddling, or running through the river, sea, or pond. They also seem to enjoy the perfume of fish, sheep, horse ‘apples’, and other odoriferous items. No matter how vigilant you are, they will always find the carcass of something that is just at the right strength to overpower you on the way home and into the tub. I think they consider it as part of their camouflage and do not seem to be worried by the strange odours.
The recognised colours for Basenjis range from Red and White, (the most common); and the Black and White; the Tri-colour, and the Brindle, with the brindle ranging from a light spread of stripes (like Apari), to ones that have their striping so close together they almost appear nearly black. There are some variations to the ones listed above, including Fula Black – which are a tri-colour without the melon pips above the eyes.
Basenjis are not for everyone, and you will need the strength of all your faculties to overcome their whims. Although they know what they want, they are trainable with heaps of patience and being able to convince them that this is really what they wanted to do. There are Basenjis out there with a string of obedience, tracking, agility, and conformation titles that would make an alphabet soup envious – so it can be done. Although a bitch of mine, when on a sit-stay, would sit alright, but if the grass was wet, she would sit on her haunches to keep her butt off the ground. They think things out, and if you are lucky enough to have one curl up at the foot of the bed or under the covers, you will appreciate the wonders of a Basenji – more likely you will be wondering: “What is the Basenji doing now?”