Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo
Dog Breed Group: Hunting Dog
Life Span: 10-12 years
Weight: 24 pounds (male), 22 pounds (female)
Height: 17 inches (male), 16 inches (female)
Origin of Name: The Basenji is a breed of hunting dog. It was bred from stock that originated in central Africa
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Basenji is the oldest AKC breed title contender. Palaeontologists tell us that at first domesticated dogs looked like basangiens. They were already well placed on bringing the Nile River from inner Africa as a gift to the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Besanji is depicted in ancient Egyptian artifacts, and traces of the breed can also be seen in ancient Babylonian and Mesopotamian art.
This once powerful civilization collapsed centuries ago, but Besenji endured as a semi-wild dog living at the gateway of both the Nile and Congo rivers. The Africans rewarded Besanji as a prized hunter with deep vision, explosive speed and a highly developed sense of smell. Besanjis are called specialist vertical leapers, a skill developed for hunting in African grasslands. (An African breed's name translates as "Jumping-up-and-down dog") The living kingdom saw: "These dogs, despite their wildness, do little or no harm to the inhabitants. They are red-haired, have short bodies and have tails on their backs."
Isolated in remote areas of the African continent for thousands of years, the unique Basenji became untouched by Western fads and fities. The breed that greatly influenced the Pharaoh was the same as that brought to the West in the late 1800s.
A breeding pair was brought to England in 1895, but died shortly thereafter. Another pair was brought to England in 1937. They were displayed as natural curiosities, and this previously unknown breed created such a sensation with the dog-loving British public that the police were called for crowd control. But, again, the tragedy occurred: a child of female and puppies died, leaving only the male, named Boise.
Boise was acquired by a Boston breeder who recently acquired a woman named Congo. This resulted in the birth of the first basengeis breed in the Americas. More dogs were gradually added to the gene pool, until finally, Besanji was established in the United States.