Acquired: Breeder (hobby breeder)
Training: Previous owner
Posted April 25, 2015
My family had two Basenjis in our household growing up—Cleo and Dash. My stepfather had chosen this African breed for it's "barklessness" and cleanliness. On paper, it is truly an ideal dog for those who are looking for a low-maintenance breed. The Basenji is quiet, sheds minimally, and has a fiercely independent temperament.
My stepfather did not bargain for the family dogs being anything but warm and sociable. The male and female were undeniably fond of each other, and generally protective of small children. They were also very loyal to my stepdad, who fed them and provided most of their care. The dogs did not get along so well with other family members and friends. Myself, my mother, and my sisters were all bitten multiple times by Dash, the male. Neither of the dogs responded well to the presence of newcomers. Cleo, the female, had the more agreeable temperament. Dash displayed an aggressive demeanor throughout his life. This became MUCH worse following the death of Cleo.
Dash experienced a very distinct grieving period after Cleo’s passing. This is when we learned that “The Barkless Dog” is not soundless. Dash began to cry on occasion. The first time this happened, I thought that a female neighbor might be in the midst of an emergency. The cry sounded like a woman screaming in an extreme state of pain. Dash lived for another year or so after the crying began. His behavior regressed and his health deteriorated quickly during this time.
I would suggest having at least a small yard if you are considering owning a Basenji. They are instinctively hunters who are most content when engaged in active, outdoor play and exploration. I think it is a perfect dog for a single person who appreciates a self-reliant spirit in their pet. Our Basenjis definitely benefited from the companionship of one another, so acquiring a pair might be worth considering. I would NOT recommend this dog for families.
It is a beautiful and intelligent breed—for the right owner!