The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library


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.

 Reprinted from
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.