What is a Basenji?

The Basenji, commonly known as the "Barkless Dog", is one of the oldest Breeds, appearing on ancient Egyptian engravings which date back to 3600BC. When the Egyptian civilization declined, the Basenji faded into obscurity. He was, however, preserved in his native land of Central Africa where he was highly prized for his intelligence, courage, speed, keen nose (he can scent at eighty yards), and silence. He was used for driving game into nets and hunting wounded quarry. Due to his silence, he wore a bell so the hunter knew where he was. Yet, while the Basenji does not bark, apparently due to a difference from other dogs in the structure of his larynx, he is capable of making all the other usual doggy sounds, plus a variety of unique noises such as a joyous crowing "yodel".

In 1895, the Basenji was rediscovered in Africa by British explorers and a pair was brought back to England and exhibited at Cruft's show that year as "African Bush Dogs". Unfortunately both soon died of distemper. Several more attempts were made to obtain foundation stock, all ending in disaster. Finally in 1936, Mrs. O.Burn successfully imported the famous Bongo of Blean and Kokoto of Blean. Their puppies made the breed's debut at Crufts in 1937, causing such a sensaton that special police had to be employed to move the crowds past the Basenji benches. The breed had come to Britain to stay.

Four years later, the Basenji Club was founded and in 1941 the breed was officially recognized by The Kennel Club (England). It was Mrs. Burn who gave the breed its name. In the language of the tribesmen "Basenji" means Bush Thing or Wild Thing.