The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

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OBSERVATIONS ON HEMOLYTIC ANEMIA

Veronica Tudor-Williams, Surrey, England

 ...As I have been in Basenjis longer than most, I feel it might be of interest, and possibly helpful, if I wrote of 
any experiences or knowledge I have of hemolytic anemia even if it does not amount to much, and some can only
be conjecture.
The first I really knew about it was when I received a letter from Dr. Gary Ewing, dated September 5, 1968, in
which he wrote, "As you are the bulwark of the Basenji breed, I feel you may be able to help me. . . I have acquired
by donation, eight young Basenjis, all suffering from the same disease, which is apparently hereditary and limited
pedigree study seems to indicate that the condition may have been in the breed for a long time, even preceding
WAU and FULA OF THE CONGO." Dr. Ewing was then kind enough to give me a detailed description of the
symptoms and various other facts.
I replied immediately to Dr. Ewing that I'd had two youngsters about 12 years previously which, in view of his
letter I considered were strong suspects for H.A. One was PICKAPEPPER OF THE CONGO, male, born December
1956, sired by PICCOLO ex CH. PETAL OF THE CONGO. At 3 to 4 months of age, this was what one could call
that rarity in Basenjis, a "poor do-er." He slept a lot and sat around when the others played, and his gums were
very pale, almost white. Although I warned them that he was a poor do-er, friends wanted him as a pet, and I was
thankful to give him to a good home. They told me about three years later that he had died from what their veter-
inarian called a disease of the Leptospiral type.
The other puppy I mentioned to Dr. Ewing as a strong suspect was PUMPKIN PIE OF THE CONGO, male, born
in December 1957, and of the same breeding as PICKAPEPPER, by PICCOLO ex CH. PETAL - as this had proved
a very successful mating, producing several well-known champions. PUMPKIN PIE was a normal, extremely
healthy puppy when I sold him to a Dr. and Mrs. Tilly when aged about 9 weeks. It was a number of months later
they told me he did not seem very strong and they suspected heart trouble. Then when he was approximately
three years old, they phoned me to say that he had died - I think a sort of collapse, and they felt it was a hole in
the heart as he used to faint, but they had been too distressed to have a post mortem done.
It is strange how one word "faint" can give a clue. In the Questions and Answers part of Dr. Searcy's lecture,
he mentions how afflicted dogs can faint. Dr. Tilly had told me that PUMPKIN PIE used to faint if he ran up and
down the garden, racing the dog next door. Although PUMPKIN PIE had been sold in 1958, I was still able to get
in touch with his doctor owner who had another Basenji from me. I sent him Dr. Searcy's lecture in which he was
extremely interested, and he gave me permission to state that in his opinion PUMPKIN PIE'S illness was a typical
example of H.A. as described by Dr. Searcy's lecture, and there was no doubt in his mind that this is what he died
of.
The foundation stock from which these two puppies were bred is BONGO, BOKOTO, BEREKE and BUNGWA
OF BLEAN, AMATANGAZIG OF THE CONGO, and AM. CH. KINGOLO. No WAU OF THE CONGO and no
FULA OF THE CONGO blood. I think both WAU and FULA can be ruled out as the carriers which started the
trouble - it was known before FULA was born, and there are many pedigrees of afflicted or carrier dogs which
contain no WAU or FULA blood. It think it is of special value that we have two almost certain cases of H.A. at
that date, 1956 and 1957, and of breeding which gives clues to the bloodlines which could be responsible for it.
PICKAPEPPER and PUMPKIN PIE were by PICCOLO OF THE CONGO ex CH. PETAL. PICCOLO was by CH.
GOLD PIP OF THE CONGO ex CH. PETAL. CH. PETAL was by AM. CH. KINGOLO ex INT. CH. ORANGE FIZZ
OF THE CONGO. I'm afraid there is no doubt PICCOLO AND PETAL must have been carriers because of their pre-
sumably afflicted offspring. I must say "presumably" as nothing is conclusive without tests.
Another point which came to my mind after reading Dr. Searcy's lecture was that when our famous all-round
judge, the late Mr. Leo Wilson, who always took such an interest in Basenjis, judged PONGO and PETAL for the
first time he returned again to look at their mouths and he said he had never seen dogs with such white gums.
And I seem to remember remarking to him that I though as a breed, Basenjis had paler gums than other dogs. This
was around 1952 and my remark would have been based on previous experience over a number of years. One
wonders if these were signs of H.A. then. However PONGO and PETAL lived absolutely healthy lives and were
put to sleep together when nearly 16 years old and general senility had made life a burden to them.
PONGO and PETAL were from the first batch of litters sired by AM. CH. KINGOLO, and because of the date,
these presumably afflicted dogs appeared soon after the first KINGOLO stock was being used for breeding, sus-
picion naturally fell upon him. However, I believe Dr. Ewing has had afflicted dogs with KINGOLO on one side of
the pedigree only which, if it is a simple recessive gene, puts KINGOLO completely in the clear.
We also have had two strong suspects in England with KINGOLO on one side of the pedigree only, which I
have been given permission to quote, "With regard to H.A., I did have one puppy with it, born July 1959, by
SYMMETRY OF THE CONGO ex RIDINGSGOLD BEAUJOLAIS. She died at 4 months old and the Veterinary
College at Cambridge did a P.M. on her. All I had from Cambridge was that it was an almost unknown from of ane-
mia. Her litter sister, previously sold, also died suddenly at 10 months old. Her gums and tongue were dead white,
and her teeth looked to be falling out. The veterinarian who saw her said it was obviously some form of anemia,
but was not sure which. She died 3 days later before arrangements could be made for her to go to the Veterinary
College at Cambridge.
The analysis of these puppies' pedigree is that the sire, SYMMETRY, was by SPRINGBOK OF THE CONGO ex
BLACK ANGEL OF THE CONGO. The dam, RIDINGSGOLD BEAUJOLAIS was by CH SYNGEFIELD LEONATO
OF LITTLEBREACH (by KINGOLO) x RIDINGSGOLD GOLD LEAF OF THE CONGO. If a simple recessive gene,
this again definitely excludes KINGOLO as a suspect.
Fantastic as it seems, with KINGOLO excluded, this takes us back to the original imports brought to England in
the 1930's as the only remaining suspects for bringing in H.A. These are the original five BLEAN dogs and
AMATANGAZIG OF THE CONGO. It is so long ago, and they were so inbred, it is impossible to sort out which
was likely to have been responsible. AMATANGAZIG was an incredibly healthy little dog. Also being a native
dog, we often saw her teeth and I remember her mouth always looked amazingly pink and healthy with all of her
teeth until she died. It is the same with FULA, very bright pink, almost red gums and tongue, and also possessing
all of her teeth at 13½ years. But if it was AMATANGAZIG who brought in H.A., all I can do is apologise and say
not in one's wildest dreams could one suspect such a thing.
With regard to the BLEAN dogs, I can state with absolute certainty that Mrs. Burn's BONGO OF BLEAN was
shown at Crufts in 1939, looking lovely and taking, I think, best of breed over BOKOTO, and then a few weeks
later died of distemper. After Mrs. Burn had lost Basenjis from experimental distemper inoculations, she was nat-
urally nervous of trying again and BONGO was uninoculated. I believe BEREKE OF BLEAN also died of dis-
temper at the same time. There was no question of BONGO dying from H.A. as has been suggested.
I feel our strongest suspects come from the bloodline which carried cream. Cream Basenjis arrived out of the
blue in the first litter to be born in England, and were looked upon with great disapproval, especially by Mrs.
Burn. They then occurred occasionally, but were carefully bred out so that most people in the breed have no idea
of what a cream looks like. They were very pretty as very young puppies with blue eyes and coats the colour of
Devonshire cream. But the cream coats soon became dirty looking, and the blue eyes turned the colour of dirty
water. I think they were either albinos or near albinos as they were identical in colouring to the albino kangaroo at
the London Zoo at that time. One cannot help but wonder whether a number of our troubles came from these
cream Basenjis, or rather the bloodlines which produced them, with their pink noses, pale eye-rims, and very
curious yellow-green eyes, with an almost short-sighted look. However, that is purely speculation and must be
treated as such.
I also cannot help wondering whether H.A. is only a recessive gene, as with the heavy in-breeding which had
to be done with all the imported stock, one feels it would have reared its ugly head far sooner and more freq-
uently? Anyhow, I hope this article may be a help, even though it is only practical observations from the past.


Reprinted from
The Basenji
Volume IX Number 9 September 1972 pp. 2-3
Copyright © 1972 The Basenji, All Rights Reserved.
Used with permission.