Living With the Basenji Temperament – 7 Steps For Success

Basenji Dog in the snow outside.Have you been attracted to these elegant little dogs and are curious about the Besenji temperament? Originally bred in Africa as a hunting dog, the Besenji is a high spirited dog that is eager to please his humans.



Quick Facts

  • The Besenji is a “non-barking” dog! That isn’t to say that he is mute, however. These dogs make noises closer to that of a coyote or wolf and are known for their characteristic yodel that may make the hair on the back of your neck stand up the first few times you hear it.
  • Height – Males top off at about 17 inches tall, while female Besenjis are a little bit shorter at about 15-16 inches tall.
  • Weight – These are compact and strong little dogs that weigh about 20-25 pounds
  • Life-span – Besenjis live to be between 12 and 16 years.
  • The Besenji has amazing eyesight and is still used by native Bushman in central Africa to help push large game into nets.

What’s to love about the Besenji temperament?

These scrappy little dogs are very affectionate, loyal and smart. They are eager to please and so, as long as you establish leadership, your Basenji will be easy to train.

One of the best things about the Basenji temperament is how much they love their humans. They enjoy being a part of the family but don’t do very well left alone. You will want to make sure that you have plenty of time to spend with your new dog if you are planning on choosing a Basenji.

Things to be aware of before choosing a Basenji

  • If you don’t give your Basenji something to keep his keen mind entertained, he will find something. Your basenji will keep you on your toes and you will learn quickly not to leave him unsupervised with your favorite pair of shoes!
  • They are not so great with small animals. Besnjis are one of the oldest natural breeds still in existence and they have been hunting small critters for thousands of years.  This means that your new dog will have strong urges to chase pretty much anything that runs.
  • Besenjis are very high energy dogs. Don’t expect this breed to be happy to lounge on the front porch, patiently awaiting your return; they want to be active and without a lot of exercise may develop behavior problems.

Tips for Success

If you think that the alert and affectionate Basenji temperament makes this a good dog for you, here are a few tips to help you be successful with your new dog.

  1. Start training early – these intelligent pups can start learning manners at a very young age and the earlier you introduce your new Basenji to the rules of the house, the better chance of success you will have. This online dog video training resource can help you.
  2. Crate training is highly recommended – some dogs such as Chihuahuas or Yorkshire Terriers do fine without crate training, but Basenjis are a whole other story. If you start your pup getting used to hanging out in a crate early on, you will be much better off when you need to leave him for short periods of time. The key is to not expect your dog to spend all day every day in the crate, but use it as a training aid to help establish a routine.
  3. Treat your Basenji more like a tamed wild animal then a domestic animal – Unlike a Golden Retriever, the Basenji still has strong roots to his wild side and needs to be treated with the respect you might give a wild animal.
  4. Make sure he understands where he stands in the pecking order – Establish your role as “leader of the pack” early on and be consistent in this expectation. Your Basenji will feel much more comfortable knowing someone is in charge.
  5. Give him plenty of mental and physical stimulation – A bored Basenji is a destructive Basenji! The more games you play and adventures you take together, the happier and well behaved this dog will be.
  6. Have a well-fenced, escape-proof yard – These dogs are notorious for their Houdini impersonations and seem to be able to get out of just about any yard; some have even been caught climbing fences to get out!
  7. Teach your new dog to Come when called – this command should be one of the first things you teach your new dog because they love to bolt away in search of prey. Use lots of treats and praise to train your basenji to come every time you call his name to help keep him out of harm’s way.

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