The name is pronounced Buh-SEN-jee, and they are best known for their bark: They haven't got one. They don't bark, but they do make sounds. When they are happy, they chortle or yodel softly, and they have a sad wail when they're unhappy. Usually, however, they're quiet.
But that doesn't mean they're still. Basenjis are busy and playful little dogs. They like lots of exercise and attention. Basenjis originated in central Africa and were presented to the pharaohs of ancient Egypt as gifts. Though the pharaohs eventually disappeared from history, the Basenji survived. They continued to be valued in Africa for their intelligence, speed, hunting ability, and silence. Wooden rattles or bells were sometimes put around the Basenji's neck so hunters could locate the dog. They are still used in Africa for pointing and retrieving as well as chasing their prey into nets.
In the late 1930s, Basenjis were brought to England and the United States, and the breed became established worldwide.
Excerpts from the Standard
General Appearance: Small, short-haired, and lightly built. Elegant and graceful, poised and curious, with a tightly curled tail.
Size, Proportion, and Substance: Height--males, 17 inches; females, 16 inches. Weight--males, 24 pounds; females, 22 pounds.
Even though he is strong and courageous in character, the Basenji also cares about being tidy in his appearance. His tail is curled up neatly into a circle on his rump. He has a short, glossy coat that he keeps sparkling clean by licking it as a cat does. His coat is usually a chestnut red color, with white socks, chest, and tip of tail. He can also be black and chestnut red, black, or brindle (black stripes), but always has the white markings. The coat only needs a once-a-week brushing. He has a foxy face, with wrinkles that sometimes give him a quizzical expression.
Excerpted from The Complete Dog Book For Kids © 1996, John Wiley & Sons, Inc.