The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library


With Special Reference to Native Imports

by Veronica Tudor-Williams

    A comparatively new Basenji owner has asked my advice to a fairly common problem which I think would be of interest to quite a number of Basenji owners. She has joined a conformation class and writes - "the instructor, a professional handler, believes that the Basenji should have more bone than the FULA type dogs. He does not mean short-legged, but more the older type stock of the 1950's. He was very interested when it was pointed out that our standard states "fine-boned and elegant" and this was not a newly changed standard. Now what I want to know is, can a properly built FULA dog work as well as one of the old stock dogs?"
  I think I can answer this very conclusively to everyone's satisfaction whether they like large or small Basenjis as no one can argue against facts. Mrs. Burn imported the first Basenjis, BONGO, BOKOTO, and BEREKE OF BLEAN, all under 20 pounds in weight. At that time the standard height was 15 inches for bitches and 16 inches for dogs, and since then has increased to 16 inches for dogs and 17 inches for dogs because of the increase in size, brought about by the Western climate and the Western diet of better food.
  The next native import was AMATANGAZIG OF THE CONGO, weight 14 1/2 pounds, height approximately 14 1/2 inches. Then the next native import from the Belgian Congo* was KINDU, who went straight to the United States. Next import, WAU OF THE CONGO, a bigger dog, around 16 inches in height, under 20 pounds in weight. Finally the Southern Sudan import, FULA OF THE CONGO, personally chosen, height about 15 1/2 - 16 inches, weight 16 pounds. Not as small as KINDU or AMATANGAZIG, and higher on the leg.
  There we have a clear picture of native dogs, selected by a number of different people, but all 16 inches or less in height, and under 20 pounds in weight. I think the instructor in question is unlucky that no one has ever pointed out to him that Basenjis in their native land are small and finely built, but that, whatever we do to them, they grow bigger in more civilised countries.
  There are certain people who, because their dogs are large and probably heavily boned, state that the Basenji is a hunting dog, therefore it must be big and strong and heavy. One has only to consider the country in which the Basenji lives, and the work it does, to realise this is quite incorrect. The Basenji's job is to chivvy all game, from a mouse to an elephant, out from the forest or the undergrowth, and to drive it into the nets spread by the natives. The natives stand by the nets and then spear the game. This work needs a small, lightly built, quick-turning dog, and even more is this lightness necessary when one considers the terrain. It is either fairly heavy undergrowth, where a big dog would get tied up, or fairly open sandy land, where a heavy dog would flounder, and during the rains, the ground is water-logged, calling for a lightweight, light-footed dog to be any use at all.
  The ideal Basenji is what the standard demands - a lightly built, elegant dog of 16 - 17 inches in height, weighing 21 - 24 pounds, looking high on the leg compared to its length. And this automatically cuts out the over-sized heavyweight and the undersized weed.


Reprinted from
The Basenji
Volume VIII Number 2 February 1971 p. 7
Copyright © 1971 The Basenji, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.

* Kindu came from the French Congo.