The Basenji: Why Barkless?

As much as we would love to claim expertise on all things canine, we are, like our readers, perpetual students and always learning. Therefore, we are unable to claim whether the following is so much urban legend, or if there is a “there” there.

Basenjis and barking. In some circles, this is an oxymoron because the breed is known as the “barkless dog.” This isn’t to say the breed makes no sound at all, it does, and quite effectively with “”baroos,” yodels and screams!  However, it is true that the Basenji doesn’t bark like, say, a Shetlie or Puli,

So why not?

The short answer has been that the breed’s voice box is different. The more extended answer, if you chose to believe it, is that the laryngeal ventricle in this breed,  situated between the vocal and vestibular folds, is more shallow than other dogs’ same structure.  It is because of the shallowness of this structure (the laryngeal ventricle) that the vocal cords don’t move the way they do in other breeds. Put another way, the Basenji’s vocal cords can’t vibrate the way they do in other dogs.  Researchers have theorized that Basenjis either evolved or were bred by African villagers (maybe both) to be silent and therefore, better hunters, or to sound like jackals or hyenas and discourage predators from approaching a village.

We actually hope it’s scientifically verifiable. One more reason to get smitten with the Basenji!

Image: “Proud Basenji” by Alexey Bazhan is available as wall art, lifestyle items, or home decor here

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