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BASENJI Language



Kopf schw.w.    Kopf tri    Kopf ro.w.    Kopf brindle


vocal comunication with Basenjis


The Prototype Dog Basenji is a silent, nearly barkless dog

 his Larynx is different located to other dogs



tesem Afrika Dog Tjesem Congo Terrier  Basenji



It's amazing to learn the Basenji Language

Basenji Language is the communication between dog and man . In some African tribes Basenjis are known as " talking dogs ". Owners of more than one Basenji will notice how intensively they communicate with each other, i.e. “talk”. The sighting of my Basenji's communicating brought me to my program: Learning the "Basenji Language". Using the Basenji Language you are able to communicate your wishes to your dog, vice versa the dog with you.



Likewise the Basenjis may also speak to their owners if they feel up to understand the Basenji Language. Vice versa Basenji owners can communicate appropriate to the Basenjis if they use the Basenji Language. The Basenji Language consists of vocal sounds and body gestures. Because people should not humanize dogs, we need to learn the signals and their vocal sounds, first of all to use the body gesture. The body gesture of the owner could be learn to use a hand signal in a very good animal school.  We do well to understand their body gestures and to interpret vocal sounds the right way. Vice versa, make sure, your Basenji is able to understand your signals correctly. It is a pity to hear again and again that both man and dog, are unable to understand each other. Very often this is the reason, damages happen and the dog is given away or put to sleep. That is why my demand is: please learn the Basenji Language. This request is very fundamental for the living with Basenjis.


The long time I lived together with  Basenjis, I have found out it's supporting to learn the Basenji Language. In experience it has been very helpful for our understanding to copy Basenji Language. One notices first how much of our body language the dogs interpret differently than what we mean. For example, a stretched out hand to the head of a dog is usually meant by us as a friendly contact. The dog, however, interprets it as a threat. The same applies accordingly to the vocal sounds.


It is a helpful method, if the dog owners master the Basenji Language, the species-appropiate communication of the Basenjis.  At first the Basenjis found it very funny, when I started to imitate and to interpret, but it works very well. I'm working with this program. If we understand this fact, we can start the exercise program. I yodel, cry, sniff and also growl when needed. I frequently pet them as praise. These are initially applied to pups.


My Basenjis understand my imitation and react very well. It's fun for the Basenjis but really unfamiliar to the owners. If you have learned the Basenji Language, you will  find out what your basenji want to say. We can learn so much from our dogs. You are able to react correctly and get a balanced, satisfied Basenji as a good friend. You become yourself very happy.


I suspect they notice some of our human nonverbal communications but I suppose that they can interpret them only partially at best.


A new trend is non verbal education of the dog.

Observations concerning your position and that of the dog in the pack.


Body Gesture

Basenjis possess a multitude of ways to express themselves through their body language in communicating their wishes and their will. This can be enhanced by vocalization (yodeling or a short woof).


Examples   The "wishes" of the Basenjis


When they brake with all four legs, it happens on rainy days. They wouldn't go out. It means too, because Basenjis have an excellent sense of smell, look at me I would like to sniff or look for other dogs or simply want to do anything else but following on the leash or what the human demands. Basenjis like to play and are able to show it clearly.




Taylor would like to play




The demanding and adoring look, twisting their ears, or their fixed staring are clear signals. One then can determine rather easily what this means, for example to go out, to get some food or, charmingly, to get some loving attention, asking for smoothly treatment . Do you know a dog who doesn't like it? This can be enhanced by vocalization ( yodeling or a short woof).



The adoring look





Giving a paw Picture Michael Work 1987

Giving a paw   Picture Michael Work 1987

Every Basenji Owner has certainly already seen this, the giving a paw or the adoring look.


Vocal sounds


The Basenjis don’t correct bark, but they have a variety of vocal sounds, sometimes accompanied by expressive body signals. What says the voice of the Basenji to us? Their yodel, a demonstration of enjoyment, is well known to many Basenji owners. It can happen that the dog signals his presence and his needs. Basenjis also yodel when they want to coherence of the pack or when all pack members should come together. I do that well and yodel loudly when the dogs have strayed too far that works very well. My dogs come back when I let them off leash run freely. But first of all this useful way must be practised.


The most rewarding is  the enticement Yodel to play. An example for body gesture and vocal sound.

Enticement Yodel   wolf howling


The Basenjis learn the yodel in the pack. Unfortunately, many Basenji owners do not encourage yodeling. Nowadays the human owner has to be the teacher and has to show them how. Some Basenjis do not like to yodel or he alpha dog does not permit. Some Basenjis do not like to yodel or the alpha dog does not permit it.


The Yodel

yodel videos  Internet


For example: The yodel, or pleasing throaty crow, oftentimes recapitulated,  means enjoyment. A little chortle says the dog is satisfied.


Welcoming yodel




A prolonged howling made when they are profoundlyy lonely and want to get attention, because they must staying too long  alone . It also happens when the dog missed his pack. No training, no company no friend to play. Do you know how boring that is The noise which is happening is tremendously for the neighborhood.



Prolonged howling


But the yodel has a variety of unique sounds. Sometimes a male is long running howling for a nearby female who is in heat.


Many other vocal sounds  you have surely also heard. A kind of whining is like the niggling of little kids. A short "Wuff", a sharp sound says alarm, if it is surprised or frightened. This reaction is shown by young dogs. A dark deep growl with raised hair on his neck means: NO! Attention please, the dog may attack. Please don't interpret this as aggression. In the Basenji Language it means nearly almost the dog feels defensive. Man has to calm the situation.

I mean you sometimes have to respect  this “No” and learn what the Basenji want to demonstrate. Very often the dog want to demonstrate "Don't bother me." Don't you see I lay in the sun, or don't want to be disturbed, or want especially to eat, to sleep, to sit in your special chair.



"Please do not disturb!" I'm sleeping


Sometimes it means the dog is ill, he wants special attention. Maybe he feels defensive, or in the worse case he has pain etc. This can be enforced by growling. It is necessary to learn the interpretation by observing the dog.


Otherwise you are the boss and  make sure you reprimand him when it is necessary. Unjust treatment is never forgotten by a Basenji and maybe will  result in a destructive Basenji. That must not be, if you understand their language and the Basenji is socialized.


If a Basenji growls or bites without obvious reason, you need a specialist to determine the cause. This behavior is not normal, because the dog may be ill or is not socialized.


Basenji Communication  with helpful Basenji Language at the End of Life

When the life of your Basenji approaches its end and the question poses itself whether or not the help of a veterinarian is needed to spare the dog pains and discomfort I suggest, based on my own multiple experiences, to watch above all for the signal you dear dog is giving you.

He increasingly is staring at you incessantly. He becomes anxious and will increasingly seek your companionship. In the last phase of his life he does not want to be alone and only want to be with you and be petted.


Take more time for your beloved companion.


Clear signs that the end is near are increasing physical symptoms. He becomes weak, trebles, falls and occasionally is unable to stand on his legs. At the end he is gasping and wheezing – it is all too much for him.

When it gets even worse, he does not want to leave his bed and growls at you. At this point, he might seek a hiding place where to die. Leave him this option.

If you think his problems needs help in falling asleep peacefully, call a veterinarian for help.



I'm equally interested in learning communication amongst Basenjis because we can learn a lot from it.


The helpful interpretation can only be found with other Basenji Companions. Please join us. Basenji owners exist in a constant learning process.


Please help me to find out more about the Basenji language. Please feel free to contribute your experience or your proposal.    email    




My hint for a better understanding for the living with Basenjis are these Books


A new trend is non verbal education of the dog. 


Calming Signals, Turid Rugaas  Vlg. animal learn

A very good Book about Dog Language


Lupine for Dog Owners Günther Bloch, Elli H. Radinger Vlg. Kosmos [D]

A guideline for a rational relationship between human and dog

New information from two Wolf Experts about the 'Wolf in Dog's Clothings'  About Alpha, Dominance and Other Popular Fallacies