Why a primitive dog?
The african "primitive" dogs are rather small and light lupoids. They do not come from the Nordic wolf, but from an African "father" that the natives call Karebu (the dog of the wood).
They are considered alike to Spitz only because, like these ones, they have undergone during the years little changes. The zoologist Alfred E. Brehm gave their progenitor the name of CANIS LUPUS SIMENSIS, finding its origin in Kordofan, west of White Nile. BASENJIS (in the pyramids and Congo-Zambia area) and CANAAN DOGS (in Israel) have become different from their progenitor. However, we don’t know anything about the origins and the long history of Basenjis, so that they become even more enchanting.
What is the connection between the pictures of dogs on Cheop’s pyramid and the dogs found by explorers at the end of the last century in the central Africa?
For more than 8.000 years Basenji has evolved next to the man but never under his domination; that is the reason why we treat it as a "colleague": any exemplars can afford a lot of behaviours and a personality that is so unique as to be considered nearly "human".
In Congo Basenji was Pigmys’ hunting dog; it seems that the name of the breed derives from one of these tribes’: the Beshingis.It is appreciated for its excellent sight, quickness, stillness, agility and intelligence in seizing gazelles, antelopes and little fowls but also very useful in the searches to start lions. The oldest, clean and attentive females stayed in the village to help and look after the youngest children of their human friends.
This breed was known for the first time in Europe in 1895 but the first couple died quite soon because of distemper. Only in 1937 some exemplars, imported to Great Britain to the Cruft’s Show, by the help of Mrs. O. Burn, BONGO OF BLEAN and KOKOTO OF BLEAN, became the progenitors of the breed in the United Kingdom. Just after four years the first "Basenji Club", recognized by Kennel Club (corresponding to ENCI in England), was founded; in the meantime, they disembarked to America where they are today a very known and appreciated breed.
Basenjis arrived in France in 1966 but they continued to be "a strangeness" till 1990 when the standards and the belonging group for the shows were fixed.
In Italy the spread of this breed is very limited (in 1997). These "old friends" are practically unknown to the larger part of the "dog-loving" population.
For italian peole it isnt so easy to read about basenji story. So with Laura's help I decide to translate something about Africa expeditons nowadays.
Living With Basenjis in Zaire - An Interview With Ann Roche
Links to original english article