Are Basenjis Good Apartment Dogs?

You most likely have or are considering getting a Basenji and wondering whether or not it’s worth making the effort since you live in an apartment. The question is, are Basenjis good apartment dogs? We will do our best to answer that question in this article.

Basenjis are great apartment dogs because of their cleanliness, are hypoallergenic, and are generally quiet. They do not bark but do need to be exercised regularly. They are quite energetic and if this energy is not expended on a given day, you may come back home to an apartment that has been turned upside down.

A tri color Basenji gazes lovingly at its owner.
A tri color Basenji gazes lovingly at its owner. The feeling is mutual!

Basenjis are native to central Africa and were used as hunting dogs. They are very agile and were used mainly to flush out prey. They still serve that purpose today in some parts of Africa. Some European explorers fell in love with them and took them over to Europe but they kept dying off.

This was mainly due to the fact that they could not survive the long European winters and also fell prey to diseases they did not have immunity for. Eventually, a few survived but it also took some more tries before they could successfully breed.

The first success was in Britain and the rest, as they say, is history. They have a reputation of being very independent and being hard to train since they virtually choose when to and when not to obey a command.

They are very loving dogs that are loyal and have a pack affinity and possess boundless energy and are sighthounds meaning that they hunt more through sight than smell.

Can Basenjis Be Left Alone?

A Basenji being asked to wait during training
A Basenji being asked to wait during training. They respond to movements as well as verbal cues.

Can you leave your Basenji at home alone while you go to work? The answer to this leans strongly to a yes but, there are some grey areas. A Basenji is generally a good house pet. They clean themselves like cats do meaning you don’t need to bathe them as often as you would with other dogs.

They have a really thin undercoat and do not shed in a noticeable way. If you live in places where the winters are very cold, your Basenji will grow a thicker undercoat than those who live in warmer locations. If that’s the case, you may find that your Basenji sheds more.

It may take some training but you can leave your Basenji at home without much of a problem. You can expect to find your apartment in one piece when you get back..if you exercise them regularly. Basenji s are very energetic dogs and they need to let it out at regular intervals.

In such cases, you need to walk them or let them run around at the park for at least 30 minutes. Do that and you’ll have a tired Basenji on your hands and, as they say, a tired Basenji is a good Basenji.

Basenjis have a strong affinity for packs and tend to get very attached to their owners. This is most likely a hereditary trait passed down from their African hunting days. It may also be a good idea to get more than one Basenji so that this pack instinct is satisfied.

Basenjis can be Really Noisy

Even though they are known as the barkless dog, Basenjis have other sounds they can make which include yodeling, growling, whining, and even screaming. They can get really noisy when left alone at home. If you live in an apartment building, this can be a really bad thing.

patting a Basenji on the head
Patting a happy red and white Basenji

It’s not uncommon for Basenji owners to get complaints from their neighbours. A few owners have actually had the police call on them because they thought that a child was being abused when they heard the Basenji screams.

The noise issue is common in cases where they are left in a crate for the day. Most don’t like confinement and will freely express their disapproval by making as much noise as possible. Imagine the neighbours’ displeasure when they have to endure this for the 8 to 10 hours you are away at work each day.

Basenji Aggression Towards Other Dogs

Another cause for concern is when there are other dogs in the apartment building. It’s not usually a concern when they are in your apartment. The issue arises when you have to take them out for a walk or to the park.

basenji dog aggression

You may have issues passing other dogs in hallways or getting on the same elevator with other dogs. Basenjis are known to generally be aggressive towards other dogs but it’s not the case for each and every one of them. In some cases, the aggression will manifest as aloofness. They will just not be bothered or interested in interactions with other dogs.

You will need to be mindful of this when you are out on the streets or at the park as well. If there are issues with behavior, you may want to get the services of a professional trainer especially one with experience dealing with Basenjis. They are known to be difficult to train but an experienced trainer will be able to handle them.

Each Basenji is Unique

Talking about grey areas, here’s one that’s worth mentioning. Even though Basenjis have universally recognized traits, they are no different from human beings in that each one will have their own personality.

a small basenji looks a an all white husky
A small Basenji looks at a white Husky. What a mix!

We bring this up because you will find some Basenjis that will cross the line when it comes to universally recognized Basenji behavior. For example, Basenjis are known for disliking water. Even though this is true, some Basenjis like swimming in a pool or playing in the waves at the beach.

If you are considering getting a Basenji, visit a breeder in your area and ask for one with desired traits. If you get a puppy, you will not know how its character will develop with time.

An older Basenji may be a better bet in such a case. You could also consider fostering one for a few days or weeks in order to establish whether or not they can live in your apartment. This way, you do not have to risk the possibility of a bad fit. If they adapt well, you can decide to keep them.

Possible Problems with Basenji in Apartments and Some Solutions

Basenji at apartment window

When left alone in your apartment, you can expect them to be well-behaved for the whole day while you are away, or may find that you come home to complete chaos.

The fact that they possess boundless amounts of energy means that they need to have an outlet through which they can release it.

Make sure that you exercise them often and by often I mean every day. Unfortunately, it may be very difficult to do this on a daily basis due to busy work and life schedules. When this is the case, you may consider hiring a dog walker who will come in during the day and take them for a walk or to the park.

If this is not possible for you, consider walking them early in the morning before you go to work. Giving them an outlet for their energy will help them settle down more and be better behaved.

Concluding Thoughts

To wrap it up, whether or not a Basenji is a good apartment dog is based on an individual basis. If you don’t already own one, it’s best to consider fostering for a period of time before going all in.

It’s a good idea to go with an older Basenji instead of a puppy since you don’t know if the puppy’s temperament will develop over time.

Whether or not Basenjis are good apartment dogs all boils down to individual temperament. Do your due diligence and make sure that you make the right choice based on your individual efforts.