According to DNA analysis, the Basenji is one of the most primitive dog breeds whose ancestors are believed to have been depicted on the walls of ancient Egyptian tombs. The Azande and Mangbetu tribes from the Northeastern Congo region describe Basenjis, in the native language of Lingala, as "dogs from when we were wild" or "dogs from long ago." They were commonly used to track or locate game by using their excellent eyesight and scenting abilities. Over time, the breed disappeared until they were only left in the Congo. In the 1930s, several dogs were brought to England and today, almost all Basenjis in the West descended from these particular dogs, along with a handful of others who came to the United States during the 1930s to 50s. The breed also goes by a few other names such as the African Bush Dog and the African Barkless Dog because of their unique non-barking trait.
The Basenji has really striking characteristics such as a slim body, square proportions, and long legs that are made even more prominent by their coat. The beautiful coat of the breed is short and fine to help them survive in the hot climate of Africa. Unlike many other primitive breeds, they are more built and longer-legged, which makes them more agile with greater speed. These attributes of the Basenji are balanced by a wrinkly-fleshed forehead and curled tail that bends forward to lay on the lower back. They have hazel to dark brown almond-shaped eyes, small erect ears, and a short muzzle with a black nose to finish off the appearance.
More often Basenjis are considered to be "terrier-like" because of their feisty personality that is not usually seen in hounds. This breed is independent and can even seem distant to strangers, however, one of their more endearing traits is that they do not bark, but they make unique yodeling or howling sounds. Also known for being "cat-like," the Basenji is a self-grooming breed that is inquisitive, clever, and reserved. They get along better with older children who can handle them properly and can be very affectionate with their families but are definitely not considered to be needy. Similar to many active breeds, they require regular physical exercise and mental stimulation to avoid unwanted destructive behavior when bored; remember a busy Basenji is a happy Basenji. Having been an independent breed for centuries, they are often described as having a strong prey drive against cats or other small animals and being stubborn during training. It is very important for them to have proper obedience training and socialization from a young age to prevent bad habits as an adult. Esteemed for their inquisitive personality and non-barking traits, the Basenji exhibits many lovable qualities and can make an entertaining companion for someone who has a lot of patience and a sense of humor.