The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library



AS THEY traveled south through the Sudan,
in April of this year, toward the "Basenji coun-
try, " Miss Veronica Tudor-Williams and her
fellow-researchers. Col. John Rybot and Michael
Hughes-Hall observed, in ever increasing num-
bers, dogs with pricked ears and curly tails, ob-
viously vith Basenji in their ancestry. Later they
were also aware of a dog that finally became so
ubiquitous that they nicknamed it "the little red
dog of Africa."
The name of this little red dog is legion, for it
not only turns up in many other parts of Africa
but ranges across sub-continental Asia to the Far
East. It has been he friend of GIs stationed in
Africa and has even accompanied some of them
back to the United States. Travelers generally
dismiss it as "the native cur," but some cynolo-
gists have theorized that this was the camp fol-
lower of ancient man and was the dog from
which most other varieties evolved.
"To a Basenji expert," Miss Tudor-Williams
wrote:|
"It is just a dog but to the uninitiated it might
resemble a bad Basenji, for it is red in color,
usually with white feet. It is of varying size, slim
and long-backed with an almost straight tail, a
somewhat domed head, little or no wrinkle and
rather large erect ears"
As the safari continued into southwestern
Sudan, the true Basenji-type became more and
more manifest. There were, of course, "poor
specimens with sickle tails, then good ones fit for
the show ring and, finally, some beauties of ex-
quisite type really better than any that we have in
England.
"The majority of heads were good with little
cheekiness and short muzzles. Eyes, though,
were often rather large and too wide-set. Easily
the most attractive were the small wedge-shaped
heads with small triangular ears set on top. Eyes
were mostly dark; noses, black. Wrinkle was ra-
ther disappointing. It was there, but usually not
nearly so defined as in most English-bred dogs,
though some native specimens had beautifully fine
wrinkles. Tails were generally high-set with usual-
ly a single curl, though we saw a number of won-
derful tails, curled tightly in a double twist and
carried closely to one side of the hip. Naturally
we also saw a number of the less attractive cen-
ter curls. Feet were small and oval, but I was
surprised to see such long nails on hunting dogs. I
do not remember seeing a single cow-hocked

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Basenji and, contrary to what we had expected,
we did not once see a dog with the 'charact-
eristic' umbilical hernia.
"Colors, to be sure, were of the utmost inter-
est to us. The usual shade was a poorish chestnut,
probably bleached by the sun, though a fair num-
ber were a glorious bright red. Many were
bountifully marked with white—blaze, legs, and
collar. I estimate that one-quarter were typical tri-
colors of black, tan and white. We did find one
black and white dog without any tan, proving that
reports of the black and white Basenji were no
rumor. We came upon only two dogs, an adult
and a puppy of the unattractive coloring that we
in England call 'shaded red,' 'blanketed tri-color'
or, incorrectly, 'brindled'—i.e., a mixture of red
and tri-color, black hairs being sprinkled through
the red. Again we murmured how unpleasant this
was to the eye. We observed but one 'cream.'
This was in a town and, upon closer inspection,
we concluded that it was not pure-bred because
of the long coarse hair on its back.
"Our most sensational discovery was the pre-
sence of true tiger-striped brindles and in con-
siderable numbers—bright red with black stripes.
This is a variation I had not known to exist. In
fact, in one locality there were only tiger-striped
Basenjis.
"Size varied from dogs much smaller than our
home-breds to dogs as tall as any that we have in
England. The chief and most impressive differ-
ence between the native dogs and the English
specimens is not so much of size as of slim grace
and fine bone. The native dogs look truly like
gazelles, with long legs, narrow fronts, slender
bodies without much spring of rib, elegant waists,
narrow hindquarters, very long slim second thighs
and little bend of stifle. I feel that this is a com-
parison that should be called most emphatically to
the attention of all Basenji-breeders."
Since Miss Tudor-Williams considers that her
party has accomplished the merest spade-work,
she and Mr. Hughes-Hall plan to return to Africa
in 1960. They intend to enlarge the scope of their
research and to define the range of the Basenji
and its variations geographically, compiling com-
parative statistics on sizes, colors, breeding sea-
sons and other charateristics, by regions. Some of
us in the Basenji Club of America trust that Miss
Tudor-Williams, who is one of our fellow mem-
bers, will receive the full support of the Basenji
fancy to enable her to devote the time necessary,
and to extend her travels sufficiently beyond the
Sudan, for the purpose of completing an author-
itative, comprehensive study of the prototype of
our Basenji.—Walter Philo, NY, New York

see previous article on Observations of Sudan Basenjis by VTW


Article reprinted from
Pure-Bred Dogs: American Kennel Club Gazette
Volume 76 Number 11 July 1959 p. 60
Copyright © 1959 AKC, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.