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Dog of the week: Basenji (Congo dog)

Updated: May 17, 2022

Basenji's are known for their aloof, cleanly, stubborn, loyal, and independent behavior. Commonly weigh between 20-26Ibs, with a stealth stance and a yodel in place of what most dogs know as a bark.

This breed was thought to have originated in the Congo. Bred for for hunting lions, boar and other animals. The breed is also known for carrying goods, and warning their caregivers of any danger in their proximity. With such rich roots, this breed is thought to only be partially domesticated.


These breeds were gifted to pharaohs of ancient Egypt by people traveling up the Nile. Some argue that Anubis the Egyptian God of Death and his brother Wepawet Egyptian God of War depicted in hieroglyphs and in statues are based on this breed:

Basenji's are difficult to train due to their high prey drive and independent thinking. This breed does well with positive reinforcement training. As a sight hound, these breeds need exercise that allows them to run at full speed and get out any excess energy.


Basenji's are known for their tightly coiled tail, wrinkled forehead, perked ears, little shedding and ability to groom themselves. However, they are known to have the following health issues:

  1. Hip dysplasia - a common injury in canines that causes the hip socket not to fully cover the ball portion of the upper thighbone

  2. Patellar luxation - a common injury in smaller dogs that causes the dogs knee to bend inwards

  3. Hypothyroidism - an autoimmune disorder that shrinks or inflames the thyroid tissue

  4. Fanconi Syndrome - a rare disorder that affects the reabsorption in the filtering tubes of the kidney

  5. Retinal atrophy - a genetic disorder which causes vision loss and leads to blindness

  6. Corneal dystrophy - a genetic disorder that causes the cornea to become "cloudy". Depending on what layer the disorder affects may affect your dog differently

  7. Persistent pupillary membrane -strands of tissues that arise from the iris float and attach to another surface of the iris, lens or cornea within the eye. This can cause pain and may lead to visual impairments

  8. Immunoproliferative small intestinal disease - a genetic disease commonly seen in Basenji's, this inflammatory bowel disease creates severe diarrhea and vomiting in a dog that is accompanied by protein loss and malabsorption. Can be treatable if caught early

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