The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library

Basenji Club of America


L. Jane Williams

A one-half new African bitch pictured at 7 months old.

The idea of importing new dogs straight from Africa again was first conceived in 1985 by a small group of breeders after listening to a talk given by Veronica Tudor-Williams about her 1959 trip to Africa. The original gene pool we had to work with was based on such a small number of dogs imported during '30's and '40's, that by 1985 the future of the Basenji was becoming a growing concern. We can assume the health problems seen in the breed today have always existed to some degree and, because of the small gene pool, it would only be a matter of time until we would have no place to go.

The first trip became a reality in 1987 when Mr. Jon Curby and Mr. Michael Work travelled to Zaire. Everyone, travellers and enthusiasts alike, were full of anticipation. No one was sure there were Basenjis left in Africa after all these years, so the travellers knew there was a risk of coming home with nothing. They arrived home with two tri males, one brindle male and female, on red and white male and two red and white females. Most people who read Veronica Tudor-Williams' books have always been intrigued by the photo of the brindle. Now, for the first time it was possible for all of use to see one up close. Though everyone was hoping that perhaps a brindle would be found and brought back, the main reason for going in the first place was to expand the original gene pool.

1988 saw Mr. Jon Curby, Miss Damara Bolte', and Mr. Stan Carter returning from Africa with several more dogs, one of which was a bitch in whelp.

By 1992 the new Africans were having an impact on our domestic dogs and it will be several more years before we fully realize how great the impact will be.

The most easily noticed difference we have seen is a variety of coloration and markings which until now were quite foreign to us. Sabling and saddling have been known to appear in litters over the years, along with true miss-marks (all white, etc.) Unfortunately no one talked about them so information about them has been lost. I found it quite interesting that while talking with one long-time breeder, I was told about an accidental meeting sometime during the '60's with some travelers who had a 16-year-old "tiger-striped" Basenji with them. There was no doubt about the dog's lineage, her sire was a tri from the Bettina line and her dam a red and white from the Phemister line. Because of her age her coat color was somewhat faded but was still a nice red with well-defined tiger stripes. The long-time breeder was told that there were littermates which were the same color. Unfortunately after many inquiries, no further information could be obtained. (If anyone reading this knows more about this litter or others with unusual colors, it would be of great interest to us all.) Now brindle-pointed tris and open-faced or "capped" tris are marking variations previously unknown to the Basenji fancy. For those who do not understand this color description, I've included a photo of a one-half African "capped" tri-color.

While the most immediate and obvious differences observed are the color variations, other differences have been noted in health, type and temperament blending with our American lines.

Some of the different color variations
seen from the new African imports.
One-half new African saddle brindle puppy.

One-half new African saddled tri-color puppy.

One-half new African "capped" tri-color at 7 months.

Knowing that vivid memories of today tend to become lost or distorted as time passes, it was decided that something official should be put into place to prevent all this information from being lost. The main purpose of the B.C.O.A. African Stock Project is to collect information regarding the new Africans and their immediate descendants to try to prevent this loss from happening. Additional information about the original imported dogs will be ferreted out as best as possible This information will be of great value to those who wish to introduce these dogs into their lines. The files will contain information such as photographs of the individual dog, its sire and dam if possible, offspring through the second generation, pedigrees and any other pertinent information.

Which brings us to the next point. I have been asked how we would know whether the information received will be complete. We must rely upon the integrity of the person report a puppy (ies) which is a variation from what we consider acceptable is something we have no control over. However, we would hope that this does not happen. An "odd" colored puppy, a different temperament trait, type variations is not a source of embarrassment but rather, as with all other information given, a valuable piece of information for breeders, like a piece of a puzzle. We will get nowhere fast if we choose to exclude important information. Nothing is absolute when it comes to breeding, but having background information about the dog being considered for breeding certainly helps the odds.

The "Project is sponsored by the Basenji Club of America, Inc., but its use is in no way limited to the Club membership. Any person who is interested in contributing information or obtaining the same, will be able to acquire whatever information is available. Unfortunately, obtaining the information is not a free service, but is very reasonable. Costs are limited to covering reproduction/mailing fees only.

We believe that, with the help of everyone who chooses to be involved, we will be able to develop as complete record as possible. Presently we have six people who have graciously agreed to participate as committee members.

I hope this helps those of you have heard of the B.C.O.A. African Stock Project understand its purpose and scope.

Committee Members:

L. Janes Williams, Chairperson
Iris Craven
Charlene Harley-Dunbar
Cecelia Wozniak
Linda Ehlers
Sandy Bridges
Jeraldeen Crandall

The Basenji
Volume XXX Number 3 March 1994 pp. 6-7
Copyright © 1994 The Basenji, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.