There are a bunch of scientists who keep trying to figure out how some wolves turned into dogs, and when it first happened. And the answer is that nobody knows for sure. But that doesn't stop the scientists from trying to puzzle it out. And the way they are trying to puzzle it out is with something called DNA.
So these scientists have been trying to untangle these strings of DNA so they can see what's in them, and then they compare the DNA of one species to the DNA of another species to see if they have some stuff in common. And when they first started doing this with dog DNA and wolf DNA, they thought that dogs all evolved from wolves in east Asia.
Of course, not all the scientists agree with this latest news about the canine ancestors from the Middle East, so there are still a bunch of arguments going on. And these arguments will probably go on for a long time to come because nobody really knows for sure how wolves turned into dogs. If people back in the old days had kept better records, we wouldn't be having this problem, but it's too late now to go back and make them write everything down.
Anyway, the dog breeds that are the very oldest of all are the ones from Africa and Asia and the Middle East. Which means that basenjis are one of those really, really old breeds! And some other ones are shar-pei and chow-chow and saluki, just to give you some examples.
Another theory is that people might have adopted wolf puppies and raised them. This would have made the puppies get used to humans, and they would have learned to depend on the people for food. And the more the wolves were around humans, the more they got to be like dogs, because dogs can read people's faces and gestures, and wolves can't do this.
Some scientists think that all this domestication of wolves stuff happened about 10,000 years ago. Or maybe it was 12,000 or 15,000 years ago. Anyway, it was about the same time that people settled down and stopped being hunter-gatherers. And maybe dogs had something to do with the fact that people could stop wandering around all the time because dogs helped people and they guarded them and their houses and other animals.
But some breeds are still called "primitive" breeds, which means that people haven't messed too much with how they look and act. I am proud to say that basenjis are one of these primitive breeds, and I think that is part of what makes us basenjis so clever and so very good-looking!