The Basenji is a small, elegant, athletic dog, about the size of a Fox Terrier, with a smooth, shiny coat of copper, red, black and tan, black, or brindle, all with white feet, chest, and tail tip, and sometimes white legs, collar, and blaze. The dog is lightly built, with fairly square proportions. The back is level, the legs are long and the forehead is furrowed with wrinkles. The ears are pricked and the tail curls tightly up over and slightly to either side of the back. The breed has a swift, tireless trot.
The Basenji is an ancient and primitive breed, according to DNA evidence. It bears some resemblance to dogs depicted on the walls of pharaohs’ tombs in Egypt, but that might be coincidence. Explorers later discovered the breed in Zaire, hunting wild game for his native masters, usually by finding and then driving the game into nets. These dogs were first introduced to the United States in 1941. Currently, Basenjis are primarily companion dogs.