What is a Basenji? The aristocratic Basenji is a small, elegant, gazelle-like dog originally used for hunting in his native central Africa.

Renowned for the fact that he does not bark, the Basenji nevertheless makes a variety of sounds, ranging from yodels to chortles to growls. The breed is also unique because Basenji bitches only come into season once a year, and nearly all at the same time. This means that puppies, as a rule, are born in May or June.

The Basenji is one of the most ancient dog breeds. There is evidence through Mitochrondrial DNA (mtDNA) and physical evidence that the Basenji is descended from the wolves that came out of East Asia and migrated to Africa..

There has been speculation that the Basenjis ancestry may have also included the jackal. However, recent DNA evidence does not support this theory as the domestic dog’s mtDNA can be traced back to at least 5 female wolf lineages. Further analysis of the DNA sequences between the domestic dog to that of the wolf, jackal and coyote confirm that the domestic dogs DNA is much closer the wolf, than that of the jackal or coyote.

If the Jackal does play any part in the Basenjis ancestry then then it is more likely that it would have been due to infrequent matings between female Basenjis with male Jackals.This type of mating would not show up in mitochrondrial DNA;  mtDNA is limited to the maternal side of the inheritance.

The physical evidence also seems to eliminate the Jackal. Through evolution the domestic dog has, generally, become a smaller that their ‘wild’ ancestors and that includes brain size. However, the jackal’s brain is smaller than the domestic dogs which would tend to eliminate the Jackal in the domestic dogs makeup as it would be expected that the brain size f the jackal would be larger and not visa versa.

There is DNA evidence that breeds such as the Siberian Laika, Tibetan Terrier, Ryukyu Inu, Chinese Crested, Chow Chow, Saluki and Sloughi may have shared a common ancestor with the Basenji.

It is generally accepted from the DNA evidence to hand that the Basenji from an ancestor that lived in East Asia and it migrated to west Africa


The Basenji is a prehistoric breed, for as long ago as the stone age nomads were accompanied by dogs that resembled the Basenji we know today. Dogs resembling the Basenji are depicted in rock carvings. Bone fragments carbon dated show that there was a dog a similar size and physical appearance of the breed we know today.


The Basenji can be seen in ancient Egyptian artwork, the dogs are often shown sitting under the masters chair, one by the name of Xalmes is shown in a tomb engraving and is dated pre 3000BC. A limestone stele depicting Renu and his wife Dedet with a Basenji siting under Renu’s chair is dated 1900BC. An engraving of pricked eared curly tailed dogs taking part in a hunt is engraved at the Saggara pyramid and a bronze statue of a small dog with a curled tail and wrinkled forehead dates form 1500BC


George Schweinfurth a German explorer described the dogs of the Niam Niam, a tribe who resided between the Congo and the Nile. He described the dogs owned by the Niam Niam as “a small dog similar to a spitz but with short and smooth coat, with large erect ears and short skinny tail, rolled up like that of a small piglet” Schweinfurth purchased a bitch to take back to Germany but when he reached Alexandria she jumped to her death from the 2nd story window of the hotel.


First African dogs were exhibited in Dortmund, Germany.


The first Basenjis arrived in England but soon after died of distemper for which they had no natural immunity.


More Basenjis were imported into England they were given the new distemper vaccine but unfortunately the vaccine was in an experimental stage and the dogs died after being vaccinated.


Six more Basenjis were imported into England and again the vaccine killed all but one.


More Basenjis were imported into England and finally the first litter was born in 1937.


First Basenjis imported into Australia. Since this time Basenjis have been imported form England, New Zealand and USA and careful breeding has helped make Australian Basenjis among the most admired in the world.


The AKC re-open the std book to allow native Basenjis to be imported from Afrika. The stud book was re opened to increase genetic diversity with new bloodlines.


Two VBBA members, Bev Reid and Ethel Blair travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to explore for quality Basenji puppies to take back to America. Ethel finds Akua, his journey to America and then on to Australia begins.

General Appearance: Lightly built, finely boned aristocratic-looking animal, high on leg compared with its length, always poised, alert and intelligent. Wrinkled head, with pricked ears, proudly carried on a well-arched neck. Deep brisket runs up into a definite waist, tail tightly curled presenting a picture of a well balanced dog of gazelle-like grace.
Characteristics: Barkless but not mute, its own special noise of mixture of a chortle and a yodel. Remarkable for its cleanliness in every way.
Temperament: An intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. Can be aloof with strangers.
Head And Skull: Flat, well-chiselled and medium width, tapering towards nose, with slight stop. Distance from top of head to stop slightly more than from stop to tip of nose. Side lines of skull taper gradually towards mouth, giving a clean-cheeked appearance. Fine and profuse wrinkles appearing on forehead when ears pricked, side wrinkles desirable but not exaggerated into dewlap. Wrinkles more noticeable in puppies, but because of lack of shadowing, not as noticeable in tri-colours; black nose desirable.
Eyes: Dark, almond-shaped, obliquely set, far-seeing and rather inscrutable in expression.
Ears: Small, pointed, erect and slightly hooded, of fine texture, set well forward on top of head, tip of ear nearer centre of skull than outside base.
Mouth: Jaws strong, with perfect, regular and complete scissor bite, i.e. Upper teeth closely overlapping lower teeth and set square to the jaws.
Neck: Strong and of good length, without thickness, well crested and slightly full at base of throat with a graceful curve accentuating crest. Well-set into shoulders giving head a ‘lofty’ carriage.
Forequarters: Shoulders well laid back, muscular, not loaded. Elbows tucked in against brisket. When viewed from front, elbows in line with ribs and legs should continue in a straight line to ground giving a medium front. Forelegs straight with fine bone and very long fore-arms. Pasterns good length, straight and flexible.
Body: Balanced with short, level back. Ribs well sprung, deep and oval. Loin short coupled, deep brisket running up into definite waist.
Hindquarters: Strong and muscular, hocks well let down, turned neither in nor out, with long second thighs and moderately bent stifles.
Feet: Small, narrow and compact, with deep pads, well arched toes and short nails.
Tail: High set, with posterior curve of buttock extending beyond root of tail giving a reachy appearance to hindquarters. Curls tightly over spine and lies closely to thigh with a single or double curl.
Gait/Movement: Legs carried straight forward with a swift long tireless swinging stride.
Coat: Short, sleek and close, very fine. Skin very pliant.
Colour: Pure black and white, red and white, black tan and white with tan melon pips and mask, black, tan and white. Brindle, red background with black stripes, the more clearly defined the stripes the better. The white should be on feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, blaze and white collar optional.
Sizes: Ideal height:
Dogs 43 cms (17 ins) at withers
Bitches 40 cm (16 ins) at withersIdeal weight:
Dogs 11 kg (24 lbs)
Bitches 9.5 kg ( 21 lbs)
Faults: Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree and its effect upon the health and welfare of the dog.
Notes: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.