The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library


by Veronica Tudor-Williams

  About seven years ago, two rather unusually marked Basenji puppies were born. At first they were thought to be black and white, but at about 12 weeks of age they developed tan behind the ears, on the seat and on the back of the legs, so they were registered as black, tan and white. Their parents were big winners, so there was no doubt as to their purity. Then in various litters a few others cropped up, and they were accepted as a variation of black, tan and white, until that time black, tan and white Basenjis had tan cheeks and melon pips as well.
  Then little rumours started that these were not pure Basenjis, that they are mismarks, that they should be banned, or that the standard should be altered to include a fourth colour. In fact, the whole thing was blown up quite out of proportion to the problem and yet no one seemed to know how or why it was started.
  After hearing such statements I thought that, for my interest and amusement, I would list all the reasons why these black, tan and whites, without melon pips, should be accepted or banned. I think the list might interest and amuse other breeders.
  The Basenji Standard, first drawn up in 1939 by such well-known people as Mrs. Burn, Lady Kitty Ritson, Lady Helen Nutting and Major Richards, and I felt honoured to be included in this, and also in drawing up and revising all subsequent standards. Colours were: "Chestnut with white points and tail tip, also black and white, and black, tan and white, all with white feet, chest and tail tip. White legs, white collar and white blaze optional. "
  At no time has the word "tri-colour" ever been mentioned in the English Standard, so as a legally-minded member of The Basenji Club said, "The suggestion of introducing a fourth colour, black, tan and white, does not make sense, and is pure nonsense as it is already there.
  Until 1947 no one had ever seen a black, tan and white in England or the United States, then through in-breeding to the native import, AMATANGAZIG OF THE CONGO, two black, tan and whites were born. These had tan cheeks and the melon pips, and everyone was very excited about them, one becoming CH. BLACK MAGIC OF THE CONGO. In 1959 another import came from the Sudan, FULA OF THE CONGO, and a few years later, through line-breeding to her, black, tan and whites, without melon pips, were produced. Now if this situation had been reversed, and AMATANGAZIG had produced black, tan and white stock without melon pips, they would have been accepted without question as the black, tan and white mentioned in the standard. So why should the situation be so different twenty years later?
  There are suggestions that black, tan and whites without melon pips can become very sabled on the neck and sides; so can the black, tan and whites with melon pips. This is well taken care of in the standard, "creams, sable and off colours to be heavily penalised. " In my opinion judges should adhere to this more strictly when judging the three colours.
  With regard to creams and other dilute genes, these are semi-albinos, with pink noses and eye rims, and met with great disapproval as they dilute colour and pigmentation. Black tan and white intensifies colour and pigmentation and does not dilute it.
  In my opinion, years of thought and discussion should be undertaken before any point or colour is banned in known purebred stock. Take the case of CH. BINZA OF LAUGHING BROOK, better known as TIGER - the tiger-striped import from the Southern Sudan. Tiger-striped Basenjis have been seen by experts in the Southern Sudan and the Belgian Congo, and are possibly the purest colour there is in Basenjis. Yet because one Basenji club disapproved, and stated they would never accept this colour, TIGER joined his owner in South Rhodesia, and the colour, a dominant, was lost to England and the United States.
  Black, tan and white without melon pips is mentioned as having been owned in the Sudan 53 years ago by a member of the Sudan Defense Force. If this colour had been banned when it first appeared in English stock, this would have meant the loss of a great stud dog. CH. FULAFUTURE OF THE CONGO sired the first of this colour in his first year at stud. Actually, he only sired three black, tan and whites without melon pips in his hundreds of pups. He is the sire of twenty six champions, the grandsire of well over a hundred, and winner of the Stud Dog Cup four years in succession. But if black, tan and whites without melon pips had been banned six years ago, he would have been retired from stud, and the greatest influence for good would have been lost to us. Cases like this can lead to whispering campaigns, which are about the most unpleasant and damaging situations which can occur in a breed.
  This brings in a most important point. Dogs of this colouring should NEVER be incorrectly registered as black and white, but as their true colouring, black, tan and white.
  Finally is it right to ban a colour which is known in the Southern Sudan, the home of the purest Basenjis, and as the Basenji Clubs of the world have been formed with the idea of retaining true native type. It would be rather ludicrous to ban a colour found in Africa.


Reprinted from
The Basenji
Volume VII Number 10 October 1970 p. 3
Copyright © 1970 The Basenji, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.