Evolution depicts that dogs are close relatives to wolves and it is not surprising that both share a similar hunting spirit by birth as an instinct. However, the latter got widely domesticated which mostly suppressed their wild nature and switched it with overloaded cuteness. Challenging the cycle of evolution, Basenjis did not agree to become the cute fluffy balls rolling over the couch. Rather, they chose to become the strength of their masters.
Even though Basenjis belong to the pawed family, they stand separately from most other dogs with their unique nature and characteristics. The Basenjis as we know has a high wrinkled face with a tail curled on itself. This breed has erected ears, especially when they are on high alert. If compared with the ancient breeds, the Basenji dog breed is considered among the oldest breed on earth. Pictures of these dogs have been seen in carvings that date back to 6000 BC which confirms that the breed has survived many years in Africa. The list is long but lets start with some of the other entertaining and fascinating fun facts about Basenji that will surely amaze you.
Let’s look into some of the interesting and fun facts about Basenji dog breed.
The Oldest Breed
Being the oldest dog breed, Basenjis carry their hunter-like attitude quite smoothly with decency. Maybe because they are aware of their historical significance. In Lybia, several cave paintings were found that trace back to the ancient era, approximately 600 BCE. And those paintings depict hunter cavemen accompanied by dogs that have curly tails – which is one of the unique features of Basenjis. No doubt but this points to the existence of Basenji since a long time.
Besides that, if you show interest in Ancient Egyptian artwork, Basenjis’ presence cannot be overlooked in any way. According to the historical records and shreds of evidence, these dogs used to be transported from the African continent to Egypt as presents to Pharaohs.
The muse to Egyptian art and God
According to Egyptian mythology, Anubis is worshipped as the God of death (mummification) and reincarnation. Interestingly, Anubis has the head of a canine on the perfect manly body. The slender snout and remarkable pricked ears of the God indicate to Basenjis since these two are the distinctive features of this breed. The ancient Egyptian ritual said the dogs usually accompanied the owners in the afterlife and the enormous range of mummified Basenjis advocate for this ritual.
Not only as a respectable breed, but Basenjis also used to be treated as the inspiration for various art forms in ancient Egypt and various historical documents and pieces of evidence stand for their prestigious status in ancient Egypt.
Challenging the Lions is a fun game for them
Can you imagine a dog luring the king of the forest with its trick? Well if you visit the forests of Kenya, you may have witnessed such a sight. In Kenya, the Masai hunters use these dogs to lure the African lions out of their den and Basenjis are brave enough to continue this practice throughout their lives. Once the lion steps out of its safe zone, the group of hunters take control in hand.
Basenjis are renowned for being excellent hunters. With their impressive speed, intelligence, courage and smooth adaptability they have been treated as the perfect companions for hunters and Basenjis are mostly bred solely for this purpose throughout the world.
Catch one if you can
In a blink of an eye, you can lose sight of a Basenji, so if you try to catch one someday I wish you luck! Similarly to Greyhound and other hunting dogs, Basenjis are a galloping breed that doubles their running speed as other dog breeds. At least one among the four feet always touches the ground when most dogs run, but in the case of Galloping breeds like the one Basenjis belong to, it follows a unique rhythm while running and that allows them to keep all four feet off the ground at a time.
And it helps them to run quite at fast as a Royal Bengal Tiger. So even if you have good records as a running champion, you will definitely have a hard time competing with a Basenji. They also have longer legs compared to other breeds. This way, they can conduct a double-suspension gallop without much difficulty.
Whether it is a dog race or running beside your bike or hunting prey, if you are looking for a mature paw companion more than a cute puppy who needs constant attention, you may surely consider getting a Basenji.
Basenjis are more likely to be cats
Unlike most other breeds, Basenjis do not crave pampering or attention all the time. They are most likely to be cats or mature adults as they need minimal grooming and looking after from the owner’s side. Talking about cleanliness, Basenjis could be rightly compared to cats. They keep themselves clean and prefer doing most of the work by themselves.
Even when out on the hunt, these solitary dogs roam freely without their owners, which led people to think that they do not form a strong emotional bond with their masters, but that is not true. Like human adults, they prefer self-care and private time which may be a valid reason behind considering them as a less friendly breed. However, having a Basenji by your side means you are safe from almost every danger, hence it would be a great choice if you want low maintenance and mature companion to hold your back rather than a cute puppy to cuddle with.
You would not hear them barking
Another fun fact about Basenjis is they don’t prefer barking or not good at barking. This is because their vocal cord and flat larynx do not allow them to produce sharp sounds like barking. This is the reason they are also known as ‘Barkless Dogs’. Although this breed is renowned for being quiet and calm, when they do bark, it sounds more like growling than the usual barking. They do not yap incessantly but they are mute as well. They can whimper or growl or whine. They have a hair-raising scream as well as a delightful sound which some owners describe as a yodel.
Mythology behind loosing their barking ability
Let’s keep the scientific explanation aside for a moment and take a look at the mind-blowing African folklore about this bark-less breed. According to folklore, there was a Basenji named Rukuba who could not only bark but speak like humans. So Rukuba was friends with the African God of fire. One day a stranger reached Rukuba’s hut and said he had never seen fire before. On requesting Rukuba to take some fire at home, he hesitated at first but let him take the fire eventually.
When the God of fire got to know about this incident, he got angry with Rukuba for such a dare. As a punishment, he banished Rukuba and take his speaking ability away forever. Some other versions of African mythology say that Basenjis chose the barkless life by their will. However, such fascinating stories and myths about Basenjis make one thing pretty evident they have been holding a reputable status in every country irrespective of time.
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Famous owners of Basenjis
Being such a prestigious breed, Basenjis has been treated as a status symbol by famous personalities as well. One of the last Egyptian monarchs, King Farouk had a pet Basenji whom he treated like a true companion in a royal manner. Being the pupil of the Pharaoh’s eyes, he had his own seat in the royal flight right beside the king. Again, the Queen of Netherlands, Juliana had a pet Basenji and their precious bonding is reflected in several royal paintings and photographs. Queen Juliana of the Netherlands also owned a basenji named Fula Nzara of the Congo. She was also seen in the issue of the magazine from May 11,1979 with her Basenji.
In the modern era, renowned TV star Frasier Krane (Kelsey Grammer) is a proud owner of a Basenji. His fondness for the dog is quite a topic in celebrity magazines. In several photographs, the King of Thailand is seen to be surrounded by his Basenjis. Being popular as a passionate hunter, the king treats these dogs as his buddies and they are looked after in every majestic way possible.
Maureen Lipmann had a Basenji named Diva, who once interviewed with her on television and she sat quietly in the corner chewing somebody’s book. Courtney Thorne-Smith, the American actress well known for her roles on Melrose Place, Ally McBeal and Two and a half men also owned a Basenji named Ed.
Featured in various movies
The story of a best seller American novel “Goodbye My Lady” by James Street, revolves around two lead characters and one of them is a Basenji. However, Warner Brothers decided to make a movie on this celebrated novel and cast a female Basenji to accompany the lead actor Brandon de Wilde. The movie was a huge success and the best part is once filming was done, Brandon kept the dog with himself forever. They made a perfect example of friendship until the dog died 10 years after the movie was released.
Apart from this they also featured in Air Bud: World pup, So Quiet on the Canine Front, Ring of Fire: An Indonesian Odyssey, The African Queen, The Apu Trilogy. The story of a Basenji was also featured in the episode “The Cat Came Back” on the radio program This American Life and were the sole dogs to be featured in the movie Basenjis (1954).
Labelling them as “the dumbest breed” is unfair
It is totally unfair to tag them as the dumbest breed for their inexpressive nature. Basenjis are solitary breeds; they prefer not to show affection to their owners like other mainstream breeds such as Golden retriever or Labrador. They are straightforward and serious about their activities whether it is about helping their masters in hunting or winning a canine race. It is not true that they do not connect with a human, it is just they do not prefer going the extra mile when it is not necessary.
Are they sighthound or scent hound
Basenjis are an all-purpose hunting breed, but are they sighthound or scenthound? Well, this question remains valid to date, although the Canadian Kennel Club lists them as Pariah and Sighthound groups. On the contrary American Kennel Club admits that Basenjis are supposed to be sighthound and scenthound since their body structure is not compatible with being solely sighthound. Moreover, the excellence they reflect in hunting is not even close to other sighthound hunting breeds. Hence there are high chances that they use both of the senses to locate the prey.
Another interesting thing most owners mention about Basenjis is that they often make a high jump in the air to ensure if there is any prey behind the grass or bushes. However, these mature dogs even keep standing on two legs like meerkats on being curious. These activities of Basenjis somehow advocate for the fact that they tend to rely mostly on their sight for hunting, if not completely.
Their breeding is a biological wonder
Have you ever noticed that unlike other breeds you do not often see Basenjis? Well, that is because Basenjis are truly a ‘rare’ breed to find. Most bitches from other breeds come into heat a minimum of one to two times per year. Smaller breeds like corgis even have a season three to four times a year. But female Basenjis feel the sexual urge only once per year, between August and November. The pregnancy period of Basenjis lasts for 9 weeks; hence the puppies are born between October to January. Now a healthy female Basenji can give birth to five to seven puppies at a time and the breeder needs to wait for the next twelve months.
However, the problem arises for a different reason. Nature plays a tricky card with these cat-like canines. Besides the heat period of female Basenjis being limited, the season of male dogs does not always collide with the female ones. And this leads to a couple of fruitless years for the breeders. Breeding of Basenjis only takes place when the heating season for both the males and females overlap.
Basenjis and Indian Pariahs might have similar looks, but are not the same
Certain similarities are noticed between Basenjis and Indian Pariahs, and that leads most people to confusion. In reality, these two breeds do not even come close to each other by origin, temperament, height or nature. Indian Pariah is a native Indian dog breed, while Basenjis’ homeland is Congo. Although both of the breeds are low maintenance and have almost the same lifespan, Indian Pariahs grow taller than the other one. Not only that, for being an exercise freak, Basenjis’ weight remains minimal, while the other breed usually weighs 17-18 kg more than Basenjis.
A prestigious and respectable breed
In past centuries, Basenjis were considered prestigious presents to the kings, Pharaohs, and noblemen and were often gifted as a token of respect and admiration. However, this efficient hunting breed secured its place in numerous royal palaces as a trustworthy companion. The dignity and status of Basenjis are easily remarkable in ancient historical documents and records. At the Metropolitan Museum in New York, a bronze statue of a Basenji with its owner is still depicting the tale of bravery and respect of the oldest dog breed silently.
The Basenji is a unique and different breed than other dog breeds. Though considered as one of the oldest dog breeds, this breed is still loved and kept as pets. Hope you enjoyed reading this article and found some amazing fun facts about Basenjis.
Q. Do Basenjis have a wrinkle on their forehead since birth?
The wrinkle on the forehead of the Basenji is more prominent when they are at their puppy stage. But for brindled or tricolour coats, the wrinkles may not be very clear.
Q. Do Basenjis exhibit aggressive behaviour?
The Basenji breed was supposedly aggressive back in the days. With growing time, it has developed a more friendly temperament.