What do Basenjis in Africa eat? The dogs' owners feed
them part of whatever they have for themselves to eat. The Azande
diet is mostly vegetables with occasional chicken, monkey, duiker
antelope or bush pig. the dogs supplement their diet by hunting on
their own for small animals and birds.
How healthy are Basenjis in Africa? In general, adult
dogs appear to be in excellent health and condition. All of the dogs
have ticks, fleas and hookworms which must do some damage. Puppies
are most affected by these pests and it appears that the period
between weaning and six months of age may be critical to their
survival. We saw many large litters of small puppies (5 & 6), but
rarely more than two pups in litters older than 9 or 10 weeks of age.
How well are they treated by their owners? I would
classify their treatment as about average compared with the treatment
received by family pets in this country. they share the owners house
& food, and are very well socialized to people and other dogs.
Mother dogs were allowed to keep their puppies in a hut until they
were old enough to be sold or given away as gifts. It seemed that
there was always a market for puppies and they sold for a standard
price with females being worth about a third more than males. I did
not see a Basenji carried on the shoulders or around the neck but on
several occasions, when we would ask for a dog to be brought closer
for a photo, the owner would pick it up by one front leg and carry it
to us. Needless to say, the dogs did not care for this method of transport.
Mischief in African Basenjis? African dogs are probably
not presented with as many temptations as are our dogs and,
therefore, are not afforded as many opportunities to have any real
fun with their owners. They don't have any socks to chew or trash
cans to empty, but they have all the same play mannerisms that we are
used to seeing in our own dogs.
The Brindle color? Of the approximately 300 dogs we
saw, about 1/3 were brindle. The color appears to have the same
degree of variation and genetics that we seen in other AKC breeds. It
has sometimes been referred to as 'tiger stripe" in Basenjis.
The degree of brindle stripe varies. a dog could have very few black
marks on one part or be red with a covering of uniformly spaced
lines. Others were predominantly black on the dorsal area with red
between the stripes on the sides and head. There was no evidence that
brindle dogs' being part of the population had any effect on the
quality of color in red and tri dogs. Over the entire trip, we saw
only three dogs that could have been pure black and white, and two
other black and whites that had red hair scattered in the black.
Because we saw so few, I believe that the dominant black and white is
not indigenous to central Africa. We saw several examples of two
rather unusual colors. One is a tri-color dog with a tan mask
covering that face just over the eyes creating a look similar to that
of a malamute. The other color was what Veronica Tudor-Williams
described as a "mahogany tri", a tri-color dog with dark
red replacing what is usually black. The tan and white colors appear
in the same places they usually do.
Did we bring back any dogs? We were able to bring seven
puppies back with us. Three pups were females and four pups were
males. Of the seven puppies, there were one brindle male, one brindle
female, two tri-colored males, one red male and two red females. The
two tris, the red male and one red female are litter mates. All of
the other pups were from separate litters and separate geographic
areas. Evidently, puppies are born between the first of January and
the end of February with most being born during February. I do not
recall seeing any dogs in the 4-6 month age group and very few in the
3-4 month range. There would have been many more puppies to choose
from if we could have been a few weeks later, but if we had gone at
the beginning of the dry season, mid-November, we would have found
almost none at all.
How do we include these dogs in our gene pool? In the
case of the brindle dogs, the standard needs to be changed to include
the brindle color. There are provisions in the B.C.O.A. Bylaws to
facilitate a change of this nature. The second & most complicated
step will require the American Kennel Club to reopen the Basenji stud
book to include more native dogs as foundation stock. Over the last
35 years, this has been attempted several times, always
unsuccessfully. The failure of these attempts to register imported
native dogs is due, in part, to the lack of involvement by the
B.C.O.A. Preliminary inquiries to the AKC and research into
precedents set by other breed clubs make it clear that any proposal
to reopen the stud book must come from the B.C.O.A. The B.C.O.A.
board of directors has voted to support the registration of native
Basenjis in general, but will, of course, want to consider each case individually.
Sandra Bridges (editor) asked
readers in the April/May/June 1987 Official Bulletin of the BCOA to
submit their questions on the February 1987 trip to Africa by Jon
Curby and Mike Work.
The Official Bulletin of the Basenji Club of America, Inc.
Vol. XXII No. 4 October/November/December 1987, pp. 2, 18.
Copyright © 1987 BCOA, All Rights Reserved.