The Basenji Club of America African Stock Project

Project Library

Many Basenji puppies develop umbilical her-
nias, generally acorn-sized. If your Basenji has
one, you may be fairly sure that it is an inherit-
ance from Belgian Congolese ancestors and a
mark of authenticity. Dr. James P. Chapin of the
American Museum of Natural History has told
me that nearly all Basenjis in the eastern Congo
have umbilical hernias. The larger the hernia, ac-
cording to the standard of the Pygmies' Basenji-
Fanciers Association of the Ituri Forest, the
handsomer the dog! This characteristic is also
desireable in humankind. In the Ituri, an umbilical
hernia is a beauty mark and a social asset, and its
possessor is always admired and excites favor-
able comment, everywhere he goes. Expectant
mothers persuade the great African preying
mantis to crawl over their distended tummies for
this is the only certain way to induce lovely um-
bilical hernias in their babies.
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 When the puppies are six months old, the 
small hernias have generally disappeared or, at
least, are not obvious. Breeders light-heartedly
tell clients that these are only layers of tissue or of
fat and can easily be corrected by pressing them
through the abdominal wall several times a day. I
have yet to hear from a new owner that this meth-
od is actually effective. My veterinarian maintains
that the large ones are always potentially danger-
ous and should be corrected by simple surgery.
At any rate, even with large umbilical hernias,
Basenjis live long, healthy lives; and one old bitch,
the pillar of a kennel that does nation-wide busi-
ness, has one the size of a teacup but, for the
seven years that I have counted, has whelped
litter after litter without suffering damage. The En-
glish and American Standards, strangely, ignore
the subject; and judges pay no attention whatever
to them although they are usually spotted by
overly sensitive ringsiders.—Walter Philo, NY,
New York

Excerpt taken from
Pure-Bred Dogs: American Kennel Club Gazette
Volume 77 Number 3 March 1960 p. 66
Copyright © 1960 AKC, All Rights Reserved
Used with permission.