Basenji's

Ch Karosel's Voyuz Ti BB-Gunn, JC, photo by T. Shadbolt

Authors

Contact: Troy J. Shadbolt, mailto:voyuz@nospam.basenji.com
Last Update: August 22, 2002
This FAQ originally compiled by Elizabeth Adams, Ann Potter, Troy Shadbolt, and Fred Sienko. Major revision input from Lisa Auerbach, Rosemary Brown, and Karla Schreiber. This FAQ may not be redistributed for profit.

Thanks to Cindy Tittle Moore, keeper of FAQs.
 


Basenji, FCI  5e groupe, type primitif, section 4

Contents


Introduction

The Basenji is a hunter but it is neither a classic sight or scent hound. The Basenji, a hound of central Africa, is one of the oldest breeds still in existence. Dogs of the Basenji type are found in ancient Egyptian art. The modern history of the breed traces to the early twentieth century, when specimens found in Zaire (then the Belgian Congo) were imported to England and later to North America.

What people know about the Basenji, if they know anything, is that it does not bark. The Basenji is not mute, however. Basenjis make some "normal" dog sounds like whining and growling. Any Basenji owner will rhapsodize over that special Basenji noise, the yodel. The yodel is often described as being a chortling sound. Basenjis usually only make this noise when they are happy and it can range from a soft meow to an air-raid siren quality noise.


What do they look like?

Characteristics: The Basenji should not bark, but is not mute. The wrinkled forehead and the swift, tireless gait are typical of the breed.

General Appearance: The Basenji is a small, lightly built, short backed dog, giving the impression of being high on the leg compared to its length.

Ch Voyuz the Wretches Gone Awry - photo by T. Shadbolt

Head and Skull: The skull is flat, well chiseled and of medium width. The muzzle shouldn't be coarse or snipey. Wrinkles should appear on the forehead and cheeks.

Nose and Eyes: The nose should be black. The eyes should be almond shaped and dark brown in color.

Ears: Small, pointed and erect, of fine texture, set well forward and on top of head.

Ch Voyuz the Wretches Gone Awry - photo by T. Shadbolt

Neck, Forequarters, Hindquarters, and Body: The neck is of good length, well crested. The body should be short and the back level. The ribs well sprung, with plenty of heart room...ending in a definite waist. The chest should be deep and of medium width. The legs straight with clean fine bone, long forearm, and well-defined sinews. Hindquarters should be strong and muscular, with hocks well let down, with long second thighs.

Feet: Should be small, narrow and compact, with well-arched toes.

Tail: Should be set on top and curled tightly over to either side. The Basenji has the classic ring-tail; some basenjis have as many as two loops.

Coat and color: The coat should be short and silky with pliant skin. There are four standard colors for Basenjis--chestnut red, black, black and tan, and brindle. All colors must have white feet, chest, and tail tip. White legs, white blaze, and white collar optional.

Size: Females (ideal) 16" at the shoulder 22lbs: Males 17" at the shoulder 24lbs.


Why don't they bark?

There are two theories. One details a physiological difference between Basenjis and other dogs. Another explanation is that Basenjis were domesticated prior to humans thinking that barking was a desirable trait in dogs. Basenjis (and wolves) are capable of barking, but they do not. The real answer to this question, though, is that we simply do not know why they don't bark.

As to the sounds a Basenji makes (similar to the Nordic breeds) the larynx of a Basenji (on dissection) is not located in the same place as it is for other breeds, which causes the sounds made to be different. Yes, they do growl--but it doesn't sound like another dog's growl, yes they can bark-- but they usually bark once rather than repeatedly. Also, the bark doesn't sound like another dog's bark--the scream is god-awful; rather like a child/lion cross screaming. And yes, some Basenjis are so noisy as to have been de-barked!"


What do/did they do?

In Africa, Basenjis were and are used as all-around hunters; they are used to flush small animals and birds into the waiting nets of the Pygmy hunters; as well as ridding the village of the large (and annoying) river rats which come to visit from nearby rivers.

A Basenji is neither a classic sighthound nor a scenthound, basenjis can participate in lure coursing. Sponsored by two organizations, ASFA (The American Sighthound Field Association) and the AKC (The American Kennel Club), lure coursing is a sighthound trial in which dogs can win a variety of titles from AKC's basic JC (junior courser) to ASFA's LCM (lure courser of merit).

Lure coursing is a field test in which the hound chases a lure, or white plastic garbage bag, meant to be a rabbit, attached to a elaborate pulley system. The dogs are evaluated in the following categories by a panel of judges: enthusiasm; follow; speed; agility and endurance.

Some hunters find Basenjis excellent field dogs, using both their sight and scent.

Basenjis can participate in conformation, obedience, tracking, coursing and agility.


What are they like?

Basenjis are mischievous. They love to play. They are very intelligent. Your Basenji will know all the commands you teach him/her. But he/she will usually think before obeying you. Basenjis tend to be dominant dogs. It is necessary for Basenji owners to understand dominance and dog behaviors if they want to get along with their dog. If you are ready for a winsome and challenging companion, please consider the Basenji.


Basenjis don't shed, do they?

Yes they do. Basenjis keep themselves very clean with their own grooming methods. But most dogs shed and Basenjis are no exception. Their coats are so short, though, with some vacuuming, you'll hardly notice.


How much grooming do they need?

Generally you won't notice much dog odor from Basenjis. Baths are needed only infrequently (every few months). Basenjis do tend to have sensitive skin. Be careful when using harsher flea shampoos. Rub a little on the dog's belly beforehand. If the area appears red or raw, don't use that shampoo. For showing, many believe in little to no grooming for a Basenji. Most breeders will trim the dog's tail for the show ring. Some Basenjis have bushy tails which hide the curl in to tail. Some suggest cutting off the very profuse whiskers that many dogs have. Talk to your breeder and see what he or she recommends.


Are Basenjis hyper?

Basenjis are hunters. They require a fairly high amount of activity to keep them out of trouble. An adult may need to run full out for an hour to be happy, while some may require nothing more than a nice walk.

But this is a deceptive question. Most Basenjis are active -- but do not "bounce" like other active dogs and when most folks meet them, they appear quite calm.


Are Basenjis destructive? Do they have a tendency to chew things?

Basenjis like to chew; in fact, they like to chew on everything and anything-- shoes, socks, newspaper, chairs, sofas, rocks, metal fences, mini-blinds, trees, and especially you. Puppy proofing is very important, as is keeping things out of their reach. So is exercise! A tired Basenji won't chew. Two good recipes for "No-Chew" are:
No-Chew #1
1 Spray Bottle (3 cup size)
Filled 5/6 full with Rubbing Alcohol
2 tbs Alum Powder (pickling powder)
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
Top off with liquid lemon extract.
No-Chew #2
1 Spray Bottle
Fill half-full with Rubbing Alcohol
Fill rest with Apple Cider Vinegar
It is also a very good idea to put a light layer of mentholated jelly (like Vicks Vapor Rub) on any surface that you cannot remove from chew level such as: electrical cords, door stops, the handles on your recliners, remote control devices. I have used Wal-Mart's generic version of Vapor Rub, and have had luck; but if your dog really likes the taste; try Mentholatum, it has a more pungent kick. If your basenji is particularly "chew" oriented, you may wish to try a product available from Veterinarians called "CHEW GUARD" by Summit Hill Labs; this is a vegetable-based product with some antiseptic qualities. Very few basenjis (or people for that matter) can stand the smell of it. Warning! This is not an inexpensive product!

Most Basenji breeders advocate crating your Basenji to keep him/her out of trouble. They know what they are talking about. An exercised and crated Basenji will save you replacing many things (and no, we can't be more specific than "things").


I'm interested in coursing (obedience/showing). How do I find the right Basenjis for me?

Kibushi Brave New World, JC, LCM2, photo by K. Schreiber

Almost any basenji will course to some extent. The natural prey drive of basenjis is to chase down game with the minimum effort. But this is not to say that all basenjis will blindly follow a lure for any length of time. The common term of "Field Cheater" and "Lure Cheater of Merit" are quite often applied to basenjis that have figured out the entire game. Coursing isn't something you can breed for; the pups must be evaluated for coursing ability and trained from an early age to maximize their potential. Contact ASFA or AKC to get a schedule of local coursing events. Watch the basenjis run and talk with the people participating.

Obedience is not something most basenjis excel at. In their native land, the basenji must be intelligent enough to survive hazards, and cunning enough to fend for themselves. This is not a breed bred to follow blindly. As many people have heard, a book published in recent years listed the basenji second only to the Afghan as least trainable. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, and with the new positive training methods of today more basenjis are excelling in obedience. A basenji was the first hound to receive the new AKC Utility Dog Excellent title, due to the devotion of the owner-trainer and the particularly willing personality of the basenji. Most breeders are not well versed in obedience, so your best bet is to talk to people who have done obedience with basenjis, and maybe they can help you evaluate a puppy for obedience work.

Conformation, also known as the Dog Show game. For people interested in getting their feet wet in dog shows, the basenji is an ideal choice. Being a short coated breed; there isn't much in the way of grooming to learn. Also, the basenji ring is still a place where a novice-owner-handler can finish a dog's Championship. A spectacular basenji will finish quickly, a nice basenji will finish a little later. Many basenjis complete their AKC or CKC championships before reaching a year of age, but there is nothing wrong with the owner-handler that finishes their very first dog between 2 and 3 years old. There are many styles of basenjis and just as many judges that like them. Talk to the breeder if they think a dog has "what it takes" and you like the dog- go for it. Few things are as addictive as dog shows.


Do they make good guard/watch dogs?

It depends on what you are after. If you want a large intimidating dog, look elsewhere. If you want a dog that will protect its den and turf to the bitter end; then a basenji is for you. Many basenji people will speak of the attempted break-ins that their basenjis have thwarted. In my own experience, My three basenjis stood, hackles up, and spewing profanity at the individual who decided to come in through my second story window. Basenjis are not a visual deterrent; they are a physical one.


How are they with children?

Basenjis, in general, tend to tolerate children well, if not being overly enthused by their presence. As is often the case, early socialization with children will make a basenji more tolerant of children. Once basenji puppy and human puppy decide they like each other, they will spend many hours tiring each other out!


Do Basenjis like to swim?

In a word, no. Basenjis are very finicky about their appearance. They groom themselves regularly and most Basenjis never acquire that doggy smell. Part of this concern is their dislike of the water. Basenjis will avoid water if they can. If you try to walk them in the rain, be prepared for some accusatory stares, as if the rain is your fault. There are always exceptions - many people have commented on the close-african descent basenjis tending to enjoy a soothing cool-off during the hottest part of the day.


What colors are there?

Like the American standard says, there are four accepted Basenji colors-- black, red, brindle, and tri (black and tan). All four colors have white feet, tail tip and chest. Most Basenjis have more white than that. There were other reported colors before the recent African imports--creams, blue and whites (tri marked dogs with cream instead of tan), saddle marked tris (like beagles) and tricolors without some of the standard tan markings (often called "Fula" tris). These colors have been bred away from and don't usually show up in today's U.S. breeding stock. With the addition of the African Imports of 1987 and 1988, the tiger-striped brindle color (in reality, a pattern) was added to the AKC standard as an accepted color. While brindle had been seen and actually brought into England in 1959, the color was frowned upon, and lost to the Western world until now. As with the original basenji imports of the 1930's, the unusual colors have returned, and are again being bred away from due to the preference of breeders. The only "new" variation that appeared with the new African imports is the brindle-pointed tricolor; this is a classic tricolor with black stripes in the fields of tan.

Ch Bushbabies' Avatar of Voyuz, JC, photo by Cook PhoDOGraphy

As it is with many things, the color of basenjis is mostly due to the preference and whim of the breeders. The most common color for basenjis is red and white; and most you will see are, in fact, red and white. Blacks and Tricolors tend to be seen less frequently; but they too can be found if that is what you are looking for. The current "fad" color is brindle, with more and more being bred shown, and sold. There should be no difference in purchase price based on color. People that charge more just because of the coat color are doing so to make a quick buck and should be avoided.

There are many dogs whose coat color varies from the four recognized colors; but that should not sway you from a decision if you are looking for a companion to love. The coat color of a basenji has no effect on its ability to wriggle its way under the bed covers; or beg for food at the kitchen table. Let your own preference be your guide.

All Basenjis should have dark brown eyes and deep liver to black pigment. A basenji with lighter-colored eyes (such as yellow or gold) would have difficulty seeing in the bright equatorial sun of Zaire and would suffer sunburns from pale pigment.


So what's the deal with these recent imports from Africa? Are they real Basenjis?

Yes, they are real Basenjis! Dedicated basenji breeders went to Africa in 1987 and 1988. The dogs they brought back were decidedly Basenjis! Many breeders are excited about these recent imports. There is little or no difference between the recent imports and the stock imported in the 1930's and 1940's except that the recent imports have retained more feral qualities that allow them to survive in Africa and tend to have more tractable personalities than the earlier imports. Also, the newer imports came from within 40 miles of the original dogs--given the nomadic character of the peoples of the area, the genetic background is the same. The "new" colors and markings have always been a part of the breed if you read documentation of people who have spent time living in and traveling around Africa. Also, note that several "breeds" around the world appear to be Basenjis with some regional differences--the New Guinea singing dog, the Telomian of Southeast Asia, even the Canaan Dog of Israel show similarities. Strip the coat off of a Shiba Inu--what do you have? The Basenji is truly a pariah breed with all feral type intact.


Do they jump fences? What kind of escape artists are they?

Ch Kibushi Neverminds New World, JC - photo by K. Schreiber

Don't leave your Basenji alone in a yard. Many Basenjis are accomplished escape artists. Tree climbing is a specialty, and six-foot fences are nothing to clear. Perhaps inquire about the number of Basenjis bitches that were bred by one little African import who decided to visit each lovely lady in her kennel run in a single day! Crate your Basenji. Exercise your Basenji when you're around. Leave your Basenji unattended and you may come home to find no Basenji!

Many people ask about the new "electronic frontier" style fences; which are transmission wires that set off a control collar worn by the dog; the simple answer is do not use these with basenjis. Any basenji worth it's curled tail will simply run through the minor annoyance. In regards to regular fences, we recommend at least 6 foot tall wood fences with the runners on the opposite side from the dog area. Now there are basenjis out there who will simply "pop" right up to the top of these fences; but most will at least touch once. You might consider installing an electric "cattle" fence wire along the bottom and top of the wood fence; just to remind your basenji that they are supposed to stay off that fence! Most basenjis learn very quickly to honor the electric fence. And chain-link fencing? Forget it. It's nothing more than a ladder for basenjis.


Since they don't bark, I don't have to worry about neighbors complaining about noise, right?

No. Basenjis, especially when left alone can make very loud disturbing noises. There are many stories of basenji owners coming home to find police officers or paramedics trying to get into the house, thinking there was a person dying in the house. Nope, merely an upset basenji making it's presence known!


Will a male or female Basenji make a better pet?

Both make good pets. Basenji bitches tend to be, well, a little bitchy to other bitches. Males tend to be aggressive to other males. If you want more than one, either get them both as pups or mix your sexes. Females do tend to be dominant as far as other dogs and people are concerned. Our recommendation for a solo basenji home is a neutered male. The owner with other dogs (not other Basenji females, though) might consider a female. Basenji males range in weight from 20 to 30 pounds and females from 15 to 25 pounds. There are, of course, exceptions to every generalization, and as long as the basenji appears to be in healthy weight; the actual size isn't important.


Where should I get my dog?

If you do not have young children, please consider getting a rescue Basenji. There are people involved in breed rescue all over the country. If you want a puppy, please go to a reputable breeder-either a member of the Basenji Club of America or a multi-breed club. A reputable breeder will always sell companions on spay-neuter contracts; and there will be a written contract. Also contact breeders about yearlings and/or just finished champions. Puppies are cute but a lot of work. A good breeder will know a lot more about a dog she or he has had for a year than an eight-week old pup. Go to shows and ask around. This FAQ does not recommend or endorse specific breeders, but we would suggest contacting National/Regional Basenji clubs and speak with their members.


How do I choose a puppy?

Basenji pups should be friendly. If this is your first basenji, it is best to steer away from the most dominant or most docile puppy in a litter. A good breeder can help you pick the right puppy for you.

Many people advocate that you need to meet both parents; but in the real world; this usually will not happen. Most breeders don't usually house the sire of the litter in their home. If the sire and dam are both in the house, you might want to ask about the reasons for the breeding. The best way to learn about the personality of a puppy is to watch the puppy interact with its litter mates, its mother, and other dogs. The emotionally stable puppy will defer to older dogs, but not cower away- it will also not lunge and attack everything that passes by.


What health problems are Basenjis prone to?

Before beginning this section; it is important to point out that no other breed can boast that every major medical problem is currently being researched. Fanconi, PRA, and Hip Displaysia are all being researched by major Universities. The Basenji Club of America has taken the lead by creating The Basenji Health Endowment, a not-for-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization for funding these projects. Medical research is not cheap, and every penny helps. Contributions are tax-deductible in the United States.

Fanconi Syndrome

Fanconi Syndrome is a disease that affects the processing of sugars and proteins. Fanconi can be a deadly disease, particularly without early detection, and is a is a major health concern in Basenjis today. Fanconi typically appears in Basenjis between the ages of 4-7 years, but can and does manifest itself in younger and older dogs. Because of this, many responsible breeders are beginning to think carefully about breeding dogs (and sometimes bitches) under the age of 4 years.

The classic symptoms of Fanconi are excessive water drinking, excessive urination, and elevated urine glucose. Often, sugar in the urine is the first detectable symptom of the disease. The easiest way to detect Fanconi is with a simple glucose test to check for sugar in the urine. Test stripes and sticks are available in most drug stores, in the Diabetic Supplies section. If glucose is found in the urine, a Basenji is said to be "spilling sugar". Fanconi is characterized by glucose in the urine, in conjunction with normal blood glucose levels. A dog who has sugar in its urine as well as elevated blood sugar levels is likely to be Diabetic, rather than Fanconi afflicted (Diabetes is relatively rare in Basenjis). This distinction is very important because treating Fanconi is very different than treating Diabetes or other canine kidney disorders. If you suspect that your Basenji has Fanconi, do not place your dog on a "kidney" diet -- which is usually low in protein. Protein is what a Fanconi-afflicted Basenji needs! Fanconi afflicted dogs are literally urinating away vital proteins and amino acids that their bodies require in order to live.

Dr. Steven Gonto of Georgia has developed a protocol [consisting of dietary supplements, plus blood tests] for Veterinarians that are treating Fanconi afflicted Basenjis. You can access the protocol at: www.voyuz.net/fanconi.html. Time and effort are required to maintain a Fanconi afflicted Basenji on the treatment protocol. Venous blood gas readings must be re-done every few months, or more frequently in some cases, to ensure that the Basenji is receiving the proper supplements. While most of the supplements are not expensive [phosphorous tablets, calcium tablets, etc.] some Basenjis must take 30 or more pills per day in order to maintain condition. The treatment protocol has helped many Fanconi-afflicted Basenjis live normal, or nearly normal lifespans. However, some Basenjis do not respond well to the protocol for a variety of reasons. Basenjis still die of Fanconi today -- Fanconi is not a "curable disease." Thankfully, Dr. Gonto's treatment protocol has successfully maintained many Basenjis who would otherwise have died from Fanconi Syndrome.

It is wise to ask the breeder of any Basenji puppy you are considering about the incidence of Fanconi Syndrome in their breeding stock. If the breeder says that their "line" is clear of Fanconi, tries to explain how Fanconi is only the fault of one parent, or insists that Fanconi is caused solely by "environmental" factors (such as food additives, vaccinations, etc.), consider purchasing a Basenji from a different breeder. The mode of inheritance of Fanconi Syndrome is not known, but there is ample evidence that the disease occurs more frequently in particular lines or "families." The age of a pup's sire and dam is an important consideration. If the sire and/or dam are older than the average age of onset for Fanconi, you have at least established that one (or both) of your prospective pup's parents is not currently afflicted. To date, Basenji breeders do not have a predictive test to tell them which pups will grow up to be afflicted adults. For that reason, breeders cannot guarantee that one of their Basenjis will never develop Fanconi. Honest breeders, however, can and will tell you which dogs in their pedigrees were Fanconi afflicted, Fanconi producers, or had Fanconi afflicted parents, grandparents or siblings. You will then be in a better position to evaluate the potential risks for yourself and your future companion.

IPSID (Malabsorption)

IPSID (immunoproliferative systemic intestinal disease) formerly known as Malabsorption. Similar to Irritable Bowel Disease in humans, IPSID is best described as a permenant allergic reaction to the food passing through the bowels, hence the Basenji voids the food prior to absorbing needed nutrients. IPSID dogs tend to have a life-long case of the loose stools and poor weight gain. IPSID is believed to have an inherited component, and in some cases, an environmental trigger. With careful planning on the part of the owner, and Veterinarian, IPSID afflicted basenjis can leave decent lives, usually involving minimized stress, changing of diet often, and use of certain drugs to decrease histamine reactions (benadryl, prednisone, etc.) IPSID was once very common in the breed, but thankfully, has become far less common.

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Hemolytic Anemia)

Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency, formerly knowns as Hemoyltic Anemia, was a major problem in the breed during the 1970's. This genetic defect is a simple recessive, an affected basenji has two defective genes for the production of pyruvate kinase, an enzyme required to maintain healthy red blood cells. The afflicted basenji will have red blood cells with a shortened lifespan, and the dog will have chronic anemia (low red blood cell counts) and a very shortened lifespan (the oldest known afflicted basenji lived to be three years old.) Testing is very simple, requiring only a cheek swab which can then be checked for clear (no defective PK genes) carrier (one defective PK gene) or afflicted (two defective genes). Genesearch offers this test at an very reasonable price in comparison to other testing facilities.

Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels in the blood stream) is perceived to be a major issue basenjis. Low thyroid levels commonly lead to weight gain, poor skin and coat condition, and lethargy. Uncommon symptoms include low fertility in females, neuromuscular problems, changes in vision, cretinsim (dwarf-like qualities in developing puppies) and myxedema (dry swelling of the skin, slowed speech and mental awareness, deepened voice, intolerance to cold, fatigue and weakness, and nonspecific degeneration of the heart). It is unclear as to the association of the following conditions: male infertility, clotting disorders, cardiovascular changes, behavioral changes, gastrointestinal problems.

Many people and Veterinarians place basenjis on Thyroid based solely on the simple thyroid tests availble to them (total T4); however, the most accurate tests for diagnosis are: Free T4 by dialysis (FT4D) which measures only the T4 in the blood stream which can actually act upon the metabolism and TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) assay which will be inversly proportional to the FT4D results. TgAA (Thyroglobulin Autoantibody) confirms if inherited thyroid disease is the cause of low FT4D/High TSH.

These tests must be performed under controlled laboratory conditions, and a list of qualified labs supplied from the Orthepedic Foundation of America. Research into Hypothyroidism performed by by clinical laboratories and submitted to peer-reviewed publications is ongoing. The diagnosis of hypothyroidism by non-OFA approved labs, employing techniques and assumptions that have not been subjected to the rigors of veterinary peer-review, should be looked upon dubiously.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)

PPM is the artifact of a fine sheet of veins that feed the eye of a developing puppy. Shortly before the eyes open, a protein is secreted which dissolves this membrane. If it doesn't completely dissolve, small segments will be left behind. Most PPM strands look like fine cobwebs but the worst cases can give the eyes an unearthly blue hue. PPM is prevalent in basenjis, and a good breeder will try to avoid breeding heavy PPM dogs to other heavy PPM dogs. A basenji with a CERF rating may have minor PPM present, but there will be no iris to cornea strands which are believed to increase the chances of cataracts developing at a later time.

Coloboma

Coloboma is the common name given to describe a gap or hole in the eye structure. This gap can occur in the eyelid, iris, lens, choroid (the fine web of blood vessels which feed the retina) or optic disc (the area at the rear of the eyeball from which the optic fibers exit to carry information to the brain). The gap is usually at the bottom of the eye. Although no specific pattern has been identified there appears to be a strong hereditary factor to the disorder. The effects of the condition can be mild or severe and this will depend upon the extent and location of the gap, or incomplete closure. A lens coloboma, if large, may also include flaws in the iris and choroid and slightly increase risk of retinal tearing. In severe cases, the eye may be reduced in size, this condition is called Microphthalmous. Coloboma of the iris may sometimes give the appearance of a keyhole in the pupil. Most veterinary optometrists can detect Coloboma with the use of a simple split beam apperatus. Along with PPM, Coloboma is why most responsible breeders have the eyes checked of all puppies before placing them in new homes. Spaying/neutering of affected puppies is mandatory.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA used to be a minor problem in basenjis limited to easy to trace family lines. Unfortunately, over the past few years PRA has become a major concern, with many (later found) afflicted basenjis and carriers being bred heavily. PRA is the slow but continuous damage of the retina. As scar tissue replaces the retina, vision is lost until such time when the dog is completely blind. PRA is a believed to be a simple recessive trait, and research is currently under way; but the form of PRA affecting basenjis appears to be much different from the common PRA seen in more popular breeds. As with Fanconi Syndrome,a breeder that claims no ties, or doesn't mention PRA is not the breeder for you, a CERF rating (or at least a recent eye exam report from a Veterinary Opthamologist) should be available for the breeding stock. PRA is currently a major research project at Cornell University, the lead researcher is Dr. Gustavo Aguirre.

Umbilical Hernias

The belly button issue: a large percentage of Basenjis have umbilical hernias, i.e. an "outty" belly button. This is not cause for alarm, and should only be worried about if it becomes violently red, which is cause for veterinary surgery. If you are spaying your Basenji bitch, go ahead and have the hernia repaired. The is no need to risk additional surgery. Most vets charge little to nothing for the removal of an umbilical hernia during a spay operation.

Hip Displaysia

Hip Displaysia is when the ball and socket of the hip joint is malformed. Depending on the severity of the malformation; a dog may be unable to walk, may limp often, or may show now visible signs of problems. In severe cases, displastic animals require full joint replacement, while other can be maintained via controlled diets and monitored exercise. While Hip Displaysia is not as profuse in basenjis as it is in say German Shepherds; there is still an alarmingly higher incidence rate in recent years. All breeding stock should be over two years of age, and carry a hip rating from the Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA). Some people will tell you that hip displaysia is purely an environmental outcome; but they are deluding themselves. OFA ratings suitable for breeding are Excellent, Good, and Fair (these ratings, based on subjective "ideals" are all considered normal, and non displastic). Unacceptable ratings are Borderline, Moderate 1-4. The Canine Orthopedic Foundation of America (OFA) is currently funding research in the mode of inheritance of Hip Displaysia in Basenjis. The lead researcher is Dr. Gary Johnston at the University of Missouri.

Summary

You should mention all of these health problems before you buy a puppy! Most breeders will supply you with ten times more information than we have offered up; many will give you photocopies of eye reports, OFA certificates, printout of blood test- enough information to keep your head reeling for days. This is a breeder that cares about their dogs. Some breeders will try to "snow" you into thinking that these tests aren't needed; or the problem isn't in their dogs. Most of the time, these people have never tested; and cannot know for sure. See the certificates; it's in your best interest. There is no reason for anybody to be breeding dogs that have not been tested.


Is this FAQ applicable for the whole world?

This FAQ was originated by four people in the United States; and has been updated by people in the United States. Since there is easy travel between the United States and Canada we can safely say that this FAQ is applicable to North America. Many individuals in other countries have voiced the opinion that all the medical problems found in American Basenjis aren't found in their country of origin. To this, I have only one thing to say. Every Basenji not running wild in Africa can trace its lineage back to a group of only 13-20 dogs; how can dogs from the exact same foundation stock not be affected by the same problems? Ignorance is not bliss.


What organizations recognize Basenjis?

Every breed registry in the civilized world recognizes the Basenji as a definitive breed. Depending on the country; they may be considered Hounds, Spitz-type dogs, or Primitive breeds. Most lure coursing Associations recognize the basenji to run in coursing competition.


Resources

National Clubs

The Basenji Club of America, Inc.
http://www.basenji.org/

Regional Clubs

Available from the Basenji Club of America Website..
http://www.basenji.org/clubs.htm

Rescue Contacts (North America)

The Basenji Club of America Rescue Committee
Linda Ehlers, chair ehlersjl@iland.net
Charlie Denslow charlied@siscom.net
Janine Peters nenepeters@aol.com
Basenji Education and Rescue (BEAR)
http://www.siscom.net/~charlied
The Basenji Club of Northern California, Inc. Rescue Committee
http://rescue.norcalbasenjis.org/
The Basenji Club of Southeastern Wisconsin, Inc. Rescue Committee
http://www.bcosw.org/rescue.html
For all BCOA Members: Changes currently suggested to our By-Laws will have a detrimental effect on the operations of our National Breed Club. Please read this review and make an informed decision.
   


Basenji FAQ
Contact: Troy J. Shadbolt, mailto:voyuz@nospam.basenji.com
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