Basenji small dog breed

Basenji dog in grass
Basenji dog breed

The Basenji is a breed of hunting dog that was bred from stock originating in central Africa. Most of the major kennel clubs in the English-speaking world place the breed in the Hound Group; more specifically, it may be classified as belonging to the sighthound type. The Fédération Cynologique Internationale places the breed in Group 5, Spitz and Primitive types, and the United Kennel Club (US) places the breed in the Sighthound & Pariah Group.

Basenji dog in water
The Basenji produces an unusual yodel-like sound commonly called a "barroo", due to its unusually shaped larynx. This trait also gives the Basenji the nickname "Barkless Dog." In behavior and temperament they have some traits in common with cats.
Basenjis share many unique traits with Pariah dog types. Basenjis, like dingos and some other breeds of dog, come into estrus only once annually, as compared to other dog breeds which may have two or more breeding seasons every year. Both dingos and Basenjis lack a distinctive odor, and both are considered relatively silent, more prone to howls, yodels, and other undulated vocalizations over the characteristic bark of modern dog breeds. One theory holds that the latter trait is the result of the selective killing of barkier dogs in the traditional Central African context because barking could lead enemies to natives' forest encampments. While dogs that resemble the basenji in some respects are commonplace over much of Africa, the breed's original foundation stock came from the old growth forest regions of the Congo Basin, where its structure and type were fixed by adaptation to its habitat, as well as use (primarily net hunting in extremely dense old-growth forest vegetation).

Basenji dog playing

Characteristics


Appearance


black and brown Basenji dogs
Basenji are small, elegant-looking, short-haired dogs with erect ears, a tightly curled tail, and a graceful neck. Some people consider their appearance similar to that of a miniature deer. A basenji's forehead is wrinkled, especially when the animal is young or extremely old. Basenji eyes are typically almond shaped, which gives the dog the appearance of squinting seriously.
Dogs typically weigh 24 pounds (11 kg) and stand 16 inches (40.6 cm) at the withers. They are typically a square breed, which means that they are as long as they are tall. The basenji is an athletic dog and is deceptively powerful for its size. They have a graceful, confident gait like a trotting horse, and skim the ground in a "double-suspension gallop", with their characteristic curled tail straightened out for greater balance, when running flat-out at their top speed.
The basenji is recognized in the following standard colorations: red, black, tricolor (black with tan in the traditional pattern), and brindle (black stripes on a background of red), all with white, by the FCI, KC, AKC, and UKC. There are additional variations, such as the "trindle", which is a tricolor with brindle points, and several other colorations exist in the Congo such as liver, shaded reds and(sables), "capped" tricolors (creeping tan).

Temperament


Brown Basenji dog
The Basenji is alert, affectionate, energetic, and curious and reserved with strangers. The Basenji is somewhat aloof, but can also form strong bonds with people and can become emotionally attached to a single human. Basenjis may not get along with non-canine pets. It is commmonly patient, but does best with older considerate handlers. Basenjis dislike wet weather, like to climb, can easily get over chain wire fences, and are very clever at getting their own way. The Basenji has the unique properties of not barking (it makes a low, liquid ululation instead) and cleaning itself like a cat. It can be described as speedy, frisky, tireless at play, and teasing the owner into play. Most Basenji problems usually involve a mismatch between owner and pet. Basenjis often stand on their hind legs, somewhat like a meerkat, by themselves or leaning on something; the Basenji is also known to be able to jump over 6 feet vertically.[citation needed] This behavior is often observed when the dog is curious about something. Basenjis reveal their animal-of-prey nature by chasing after fast moving objects that cross their paths.

Health


There is apparently only one completed health survey of basenjis, a 2004 UK Kennel Club survey.
Many basenjis suffer from PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), which causes blindness, and Fanconi's syndrome, which can cause kidney failure. Besides Fanconi Syndrome and PRA, Basenjis also suffer from Hypothyroidism, IPSID (immunoproliferative systemic intestinal disease), and HA (Hemolytic Anemia). Basenjis are also sensitive to environmental and household chemicals which can cause liver problems.

Mortality


Brown Basenji dog in home
Basenjis in the 2004 UK Kennel Club survey had a medium longevity of 13.6 years (sample size of 46 deceased dogs),[6] which is 1–2 years longer than the median longevity of other breeds of similar size. The oldest dog in the survey was 17.5 years. Most common causes of death were old age (30%), urologic (incontinence, Fanconi syndrome, chronic kidney failure 13%), behavior ("unspecified" and aggression 9%), and cancer. (9%).

Morbidity



Among 78 live dogs in the 2004 UKC survey, the most common health issues noted by owners were dermatologic and urologic (urologic issues in basenjis can be signs of Fanconi syndrome).

Fanconi Syndrome


Brown Basenji dog in home with Shrek Toy
Fanconi syndrome, an inheritable disorder in which the kidneys fail to reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients, is unusually common in basenjis. Symptoms include excessive drinking, excessive urination, and glucose in the urine, which may lead to a misdiagnosis of diabetes. Fanconi syndrome usually presents between 4 and 8 years of age, but sometimes as early as 3 years or as late as 10 years. Fanconi syndrome is treatable and organ damage is reduced if treatment begins early.[8] Basenji owners are advised to test their dog's urine for glucose once a month beginning at the age of 3 years.Glucose testing strips designed for human diabetics are inexpensive and available at most pharmacies.

Fanconi DNA Linkage Test


Cute Black Basenji dog
Cute Black Basenji dog
In July 2007, Dr. Gary Johnson of the University of Missouri released the linked marker DNA test for Fanconi Syndrome in basenjis. It is the first predictive test available for Fanconi Syndrome. With this test, it is possible to more accurately determine the probability of a dog carrying the gene for Fanconi Syndrome.
Dogs tested using this "Linkage Test" will return one of the following statuses:
        * Probably Clear/Normal
        Indicates the individual has most likely inherited normal DNA from both parents. It is unlikely that basenjis which test this way will produce affected puppies no matter which dog they are bred to.
        * Probably Carrier
        Indicates the individual has most likely inherited normal DNA from one parent and DNA with the Fanconi syndrome mutation from the other parent. Although this basenji is unlikely to develop Fanconi syndrome, it could produce puppies that will develop Fanconi syndrome. To minimize the chances of this happening it is recommended carriers be bred only to those that test as Probably Clear/Normal for Fanconi Syndrome.

Black and tan Basenji dog on couch
Black and tan Basenji dog on couch
 * Probably Equivocal/Indeterminant
        Indicates the individual's DNA contained features found in both "normal" and "carrier" basenjis. At present it cannot be predicted whether these basenjis are carriers or normal; however, it is unlikely that they will develop Fanconi syndrome. The safest strategy would be to treat them as “carriers” and only bred to those basenjis that test as Probably Clear/Normal for Fanconi Syndrome.
        * Probably Affected
        Indicates the individual is likely to develop clinical Fanconi syndrome and is likely to produce puppies with Fanconi Syndrome if bred to basenjis other than those that test as Probably Clear/Normal for Fanconi Syndrome.
This linkage test is being provided as a tool to assist breeders whilst research continues towards the development of the direct fanconi test.


Other basenji health issues


Basenji dogs puppies
Puppies
Basenjis sometimes carry a simple recessive gene which, when homozygous for the defect, causes genetic Hemolytic Anemia. Most 21st-century basenjis are descended from ancestors that have tested clean. When lineage from a fully tested line (set of ancestors) cannot be completely verified, the dog should be tested before breeding. As this is a non-invasive DNA test, a basenji can be tested for HA at any time.
Basenjis sometimes suffer from hip dysplasia, resulting in loss of mobility and arthritis-like symptoms. All dogs should be tested by either OFA or PennHIP prior to breeding.
Malabsorption, or immunoproliferative enteropathy, is an autoimmune intestinal disease that leads to anorexia, chronic diarrhea, and even death. A special diet can improve the quality of life for afflicted dogs.
The breed can also fall victim to progressive retinal atrophy (a degeneration of the retina causing blindness) and several less serious hereditary eye problems such as coloboma (a hole in the eye structure), and persistent pupillary membrane (tiny threads across the pupil).

History


Stairing of  Basenji dog The basenji is arguably one of the most ancient dog breeds. Originating on the continent of Africa, basenji-like dogs have lived with humans for thousands of years. Dogs resembling modern Basenjis can be seen on stelae in the tombs of Egyptian pharaohs, sitting at the feet of their masters, looking just as they do today, with pricked ears and tightly curled tails. Dogs of this type were originally kept for hunting small game by coursing.
Europeans first described the type of dog from which the basenji breed was derived in the Congo in 1895. These local dogs, which Europeans identified as a unique breed and called "basenji" were prized by locals for their intelligence, courage, speed, and silence. However an article published called The Intelligence of Dogs by Stanley Coren, Ph.D. questions this.

Basenji dog loves reading
Reader
It ranks the breed at #78 out of 79 which is the second to lowest rank in intelligence. Many question the qualifications of this article and whether it accurately evaluates each breed. In fact, Dr. Coren equated "intelligence" with "obedience", and the basenji is not the most obedient of breeds because of its intelligence. Therefore, the veracity of Dr. Coren's findings is questionable.
Basenjis were assistants to the hunt, chasing wild game into nets for their masters. The Azande and Mangbetu people from the northeastern Congo region describe basenjis, in the local Lingala language, as mbwá na basɛ́nzi. Translated, this means "dogs of the savages", or "dogs of the villagers".
shy Basenji dog
In the Congo, the basenji is also known as "dog of the bush." The dogs are also known to the Azande of southern Sudan as Ango Angari. The word basɛ́nzi itself is the plural form of mosɛ́nzi. In Kiswahili, another Bantu language, from East Africa, mbwa shenzi translates to “wild dog”. Another local name is m’bwa m’kube m’bwa wamwitu, or “jumping up and down dog”, a reference to their tendency to jump straight up to spot their quarry.
Several attempts were made to bring the breed to England, but the earliest imports succumbed to disease. In 1923, for example, Lady Helen Nutting brought six basenjis with her from Sudan, but all six died from distemper shots they received in quarantine. It was not until the 1930s that foundation stock was successfully established in England, and then to the United States by animal importer Henry Trefflich. So it is that nearly all the basenjis in the Western world are descended from these few original imports. The breed was officially accepted into the AKC in 1943. In 1990, the AKC stud book was reopened to fourteen new imports at the request of the Basenji Club of America. The stud book was reopened again to selected imported dogs from January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2013. Basenjis are also registered with the UKC.
Although in the past it was speculated that Basenjis were somehow descended from jackals, modern genetic testing shows that Basenjis are related to all other dogs and are descended from the wolf, Canis lupus.

Description


Bike rider Basenji dog
Cool Rider
Basenji are smooth, muscular, athletic dogs on the small side. The head is wrinkled around the forehead and the muzzle is shorter than the skull. The skull is flat. The small, almond-shaped eyes are dark hazel to dark brown. The ears are straight, small, erect and open in the front. The dog's back is level and the legs are straight. The tail is set high and curled over to either side. The coat is short, shiny and fine and comes in pure black, copper, red, chestnut red, or tricolor in combinations of black, tan and white, or black, brindle and white. The AKC standard calls for the dog to have white on the feet, chest and tip of the tail. White legs, blaze and collar are optional. The Basenji does not bark, but rather makes a yodel noise. They also howl, growl and crow, depending on the dog's mood.

Temperament


playing  Basenji dog
The Basenji is alert, affectionate, energetic and curious. It loves to play and makes a good pet, as long as it is handled regularly from an early age. It is very intelligent, responds well to training with a strong desire to please. They can be reserved with strangers, socialize well. The Basenji is somewhat reserved, but can still form strong bonds with humans. It should not be trusted with non-canine pets. They do best with children who understand how to display leadership towards the dog. The Basenji dislike wet weather. They like to chew, so giving them lots of toys of their own would be a good idea. The breed likes to climb and can easily get over chain wire fences. It has the unique properties of not barking (it makes a low, liquid ululation instead) and of cleaning itself like a cat. It can be described as speedy, frisky, tireless at play. Most Basenji problems usually involve a mismatch between owner and pet. The owners mistake the adjective "quiet' to mean inactive instead of noiseless; thus, they become harassed by an active, though relatively silent , dog. They need daily exercise to release mental and physical energy. Basenji are very clever at getting their own way, they succeed less by obstinacy than by charm, and therefore need an owner who displays natural authority. One who makes rules and sticks to them. Calm, but firm, confident and consistent Basenji who have meek or passive owners, or owners who are not consistent with the rules will become demanding. The dog will assume the role of pack leader and behavior problems will arise, especially when left alone. WIth an owner who understands canine behaviors and treats the dog accordingly, will find them to be wonderful pets.

playing  Basenji dog

Height, Weight


Height: Dogs 16-17 inches (41-43 cm.) Bitches 15-16 inches (38-41 cm.)
Weight: Dogs 22-26 pounds (10-12 kg.) Bitches 20-25 pounds (9-11 kg.)

Health Problems



This breed is prone to Fanconi's syndrome (kidney problems), which must be treated the moment the symptoms are noticed. Also, they are susceptible to progressive retinal atrophy, intestinal, and eye problems.

Living Conditions


The Basenji will do okay in an apartment if it gets enough exercise. It is very active indoors and a small yard will do. The Basenji is happiest when it is kept with two or three other Basenji; they will not fight among themselves.

Exercise


The Basenji need vigorous daily exercise. They have a tendency to become fat and lazy unless the owner is consistent about it. This breed needs a long daily walk.

Life Expectancy


About 10-12 years

puppies of Basenji dog

Litter Size


4 - 6 puppies. Female Basenji come into heat once a year, where as most other breeds are twice a year.

Grooming

The Basenji washes itself like a cat and has no doggie smell, so very little grooming is needed. This is a good dog for people with allergies. This breed sheds little to no hair.

Origin


The first traces of a dog similar to the Basenji are found in Egyptian tombs and wall drawings of five thousand years ago. Also called the Congo Dog, it was first introduced to England in 1937. English breeders refined it and exported it all over the world.
Basenji dog plays with toys

In Africa the dog was used by the natives as a guide in the forest, to warn against the approach of dangerous animals, for pointing and retrieving of small game and driving game into nets. The first litter of Basenji puppies born and raised to maturity in the USA was in 1941 and the breed was first recognized by the AKC in 1944.

Group


Southern, AKC Hound

Recognition


CKC, FCI, AKC, UKC, KCGB, CKC, ANKC, NKC, NZKC, CCR, APRI, ACR, DRA