About the Basenji
A WONDERFUL video about the breed, history, future, lifestyle, etc. Definitely
recommend reading this before ever deciding on buying a Basenji!
The Basenji Standard
The Basenji is a small, short haired hunting dog from Africa. It is short backed and lightly built, appearing high on the leg compared to its length. The wrinkled head is proudly carried on a well arched neck and the tail is set high and curled. Elegant and graceful, the whole demeanor is one of poise and inquiring alertness. The balanced structure and the smooth musculature enables it to move with ease and agility. The Basenji hunts by both sight and scent. Characteristics—The Basenji should not bark but is not mute. The wrinkled forehead, tightly curled tail and swift, effortless gait (resembling a racehorse trotting full out) are typical of the breed. Faults—Any departure from the following points must be considered a fault, and the seriousness with which the fault is regarded is to be in exact proportion to its degree.
Size, Proportion, Substance
Ideal height for dogs is 17 inches and bitches 16 inches. Dogs 17 inches and bitches 16 inches from front of chest to point of buttocks. Approximate weight for dogs, 24 pounds and bitches, 22 pounds. Lightly built within this height to weight ratio.
The head is proudly carried. Eyes--Dark hazel to dark brown, almond shaped, obliquely set and farseeing. Rims dark. Ears—Small, erect and slightly hooded, of fine texture and set well forward on top of head. The skull is flat, well chiseled and of medium width, tapering toward the eyes. The foreface tapers from eye to muzzle with a perceptible stop. Muzzle shorter than skull, neither coarse nor snipy, but with rounded cushions. Wrinkles appear upon the forehead when ears are erect, and are fine and profuse. Side wrinkles are desirable, but should never be exaggerated into dewlap. Wrinkles are most noticeable in puppies, and because of lack of shadowing, less noticeable in blacks, tricolors and brindles. Nose—Black greatly desired. Teeth—Evenly aligned with a scissors bite.
Neck, Topline, Body
Neck of good length, well crested and slightly full at base of throat. Well set into shoulders. Topline—Back level. Body—Balanced with a short back, short coupled and ending in a definite waist. Ribs moderately sprung, deep to elbows and oval. Slight forechest in front of point of shoulder. Chest of medium width. Tail is set high on topline, bends acutely forward and lies well curled over to either side.
Shoulders moderately laid back. Shoulder blade and upper arm of approximately equal length. Elbows tucked firmly against brisket. Legs straight with clean fine bone, long forearm and well defined sinews. Pasterns of good length, strong and flexible. Feet—Small, oval and compact with thick pads and well arched toes. Dewclaws are usually removed.
Medium width, strong and muscular, hocks well let down and turned neither in nor out, with long second thighs and moderately bent stifles. Feet—Same as in "Forequarters."
Coat and Color
Coat short and fine. Skin very pliant. Color—Chestnut red; pure black; tricolor (pure black and chestnut red); or brindle (black stripes on a background of chestnut red); all with white feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, blaze and collar optional. The amount of white should never predominate over primary color. Color and markings should be rich, clear and well-defined, with a distinct line of demarcation between the black and red of tricolors and the stripes of brindles.
Swift, tireless trot. Stride is long, smooth, effortless and the topline remains level. Coming and going, the straight column of bones from shoulder joint to foot and from hip joint to pad remains unbroken, converging toward the centerline under the body. The faster the trot, the greater the convergence.
An intelligent, independent, but affectionate and alert breed. Can be aloof with strangers.
Some Fun Videos on the Breed
Basenjis, according to the AKC breed standard, are supposed to be 17" for males and 16" for females. Though it seems now a days that some Basenji females can range up to but should still remain under 17" and males can range up to but should still remain under 18". Personally, we wouldnt breed a bitch or stud that is over 1" of the standard. There is No DQ for the Basenji in size, however trying to keep as close to standard as possible is key and important. Lifespan is more so 12-14 years with some basenjis living upwards of 17 or more years of age. I met a 17 year old Basenji at our 2012 BCOA *Basenji Club of America* that was still doing quite well at 17. If you have a good genetic background, the dog is well cared for and healthy, fed a high quality food, and comes from a line of longevity, you can see Basenjis living longer than 10-12 years ;) They are quiet hunters, as you say. But i wanted to throw out a FUN FACT!! .....Villagers would use "African bells". These bells were made of the Borassus nut, hallowed out and use them as bells around the dogs neck. Because they were silent, they could use these to find the dogs if needed. They also would stuff them with grass to keep the bells quiet for hunting. I was also told that they would remove the grass on the way home if the hunts were successful to let the village know they were coming and were proud to announce their arrival as they had been successful with their hunt. On unsuccessful hunts, I am told that they would leave the bells stuffed with grass because they were ashamed of coming home with nothing and didnt want to alert the village that they have come back empty handed. :) This could be just mine and a "fluke" but my Basenjis do well around small animals and cats, but I also introduce them young and make them understand that even these small animals are apart of our family and you cannot hurt them. I have a picture of my first basenji (who lived to be a month shy of 15 years) trying to "feed" 5 baby chicks that she "adopted" when we bought them for the farm! I also have a picture of her "protecting" them from our Husky at the time who thought they maybe looked like something delicious he could eat! She was the boss of the house so he respected her wishes and didnt hurt the chicks. But early and proper introduction, i believe the breed can be ok with them. However they are not for a first time owner or someone who isnt familiar with introducing primitive prey driven dogs to small animals. It CAN and definitely will go bad if not done correctly. They CAN and WILL fight with other Basenjis and other dogs if you get the wrong combination of personalities or allow them to become aggressive. Having multiples should be done with experienced owners/breeders and cautiously. They can get along very well with each other if raised properly, introduced well, and have solid temperaments. However, it is recommended that If you have a female already, its best to have a male as your next addition, to help eliminate chances of fighting. (though male/female attacks have happened) And vice versa, add a female to a male household. However I have 2 females and a male and they do just fine together. It's always best to analyse personalities of current and future dogs to help ensure that you don't buy, for example, 2 dominant dogs or bitches. Having a more dominant dog and a more submissive dog will help with conflicts. Also buying from a reputable breeder who emphasizes on temperament in their breeding program is another great thing to look for. Health testing is super important for any breeding dogs, but in particularly for Basenjis to keep them a mostly healthy breed. Fanconi is an uncurable fetal kidney disease. Dr Steve Gonto discovered the test to be able to determine the fanconi status of all Basenjis to help rid the disease. Testing is $65 and is a simple mouth/blood dna swab. For an affordable price, Fanconi testing should be done on ALL and ANY basenjis, especially those intended for breeding and showing. Dr Gonto also created The Gonto Protocol, which is a protocol for Basenjis affected with Fanconi. The protocol has been very successful in improving both quality and length of life for Fanconi-affected Basenjis. The disorder can be controlled by the protocol, but it cannot be cured. Because elevated urine glucose is also found in diabetes, Basenjis with Fanconi syndrome are sometimes misdiagnosed with diabetes. Diabetes will show high blood glucose along with urine glucose. In Basenjis, a combination of urine glucose and normal or low blood glucose strongly suggests Fanconi syndrome. Venous blood gas studies can verify an electrolyte imbalance consistent with Fanconi syndrome. Basenjis affected with Fanconi require daily, lifetime medication. Testing is more humane and by avoiding affected dogs or carrier to carrier breedings, you can completely eliminate the chance of breeding affected Basenjis. The new direct gene mutation test, created by Dr Gonto, can tell you if the dog is CLEAR, CARRIER, or AFFECTED with Fanconi. ALL Basenjis should be tested with Fanconi and when buying a puppy or adult, you should never buy from a breeder who does not health test. Be forewarned, some breeders state that they health test, however a vet examination is not health testing. visit the OFA website to confirm health tests have been done on any and all breeding stock (OFA is mentioned further below in depth) ... PRA is another issue the breed faces. There is also a DNA test for PRA as well (like Fanconi), however it only tests for about 50% of the strains and IS useful, but is not a guarantee that the dog will not get one or more of the other non testable strains, including late onset to older dogs. PRA should still be tested on any breeding dog and when buying from a breeder, the breeder should test for these also. In addition to PRA and Fanconi, Basenjis can suffer from Hip Dysplasia (although not as common but still should be tested), Thyroid issues (also should be tested, around 2 years of age), and eye problems (such as PPM which is another common eye disease that affects Basenjis) It is highly encouraged to buy from a breeder who CHIC certifies their breeding stock for all 5 health issues. http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/brdreqs.html?breed=BJ here is a link for the recommended health tests for the Basenji as stated on the CHIC website. OFA (offa.org) is an amazing site that is very useful for people to use to 1. ensure the breeder is telling the truth about health tests and 2. to look at family history of health and be able to make conscientious breeding decisions when making their decision to breed. ultimately this is a great video but i thought i would elaborate on those areas, in particular, just to help :)