Basenjis are loaded with curiosity. This curiosity gets them into trouble. They must investigate everything and taste everything and pick everything up....get the picture? This tendency lasts a lifetime and takes 2 to 3 years to get somewhat under control.
The second character trait to make a basenji distinct is its self-importance. They are more cat-like in their interest in pleasing themselves rather then pleasing people. This characteristic will either amuse you or drive you crazy or both.
To live with a basenji, you must appreciate their character and learn to use it to make them good companions. This answer could go on to be a chapter not a short answer. One thing I can tell you about basenjis though, is that people either love them or hate them. This is not a generic sort of breed.
Be sure to find a way to meet some basenjis before you obtain one.
Basenjis belong in the house with their families ...however, it takes time to make them good house dogs. Yes, they are clean and easily "house-trained," but because they are basically "children" for 2 to 3 years, there is a time commitment on the part of the owner to supervise the basenji during these years.
Until they have proven themselves trustworthy, they should be confined in a crate or exercise pen when the owner is away at work or shopping or whatever. However, they should not be confined an excessive amount of time because the owner is too lazy to spend time with the youngster working toward a well-adjusted adult.
A good sense of humor is a huge plus for a basenji owner!
Basenjis learn things quickly but they may learn the wrong thing very easily as well if you are not aware what they are up to. When you get your puppy home, be sure to think about what you are doing if you are too indulgent. It is best to begin teaching the behaviors you want in your adult basenji from the day you bring that puppy home. Nipping, jumping up and other "Cute" puppy games are not so cute when done by a grown up dog.
The most modern techniques of positive reinforcement such as "clicker training" work best to train a basenji. A good deal of time is required to make a dog perform consistently. However, by working along, with help if needed, you can develop a basenji you can live with. Remember, you can also develop a basenji you can't live with if you are not conscientious.
Don't put off training your basenji until "later." The easiest time to teach and the time that makes the biggest difference in the end result, is during puppyhood.
While basenjis are suitable for some folks with allergies, others cannot tolerate them. You need to find out how you will fare by visiting basenjis in a home setting before involving a basenji in your life. It isn't fair to a puppy to take it home without being sure things will work out for it to stay forever.
Basenjis are not as tolerant of children as some other, easier-going breeds. Some individual basenjis are more patient than others and if you get an adult you may be able to choose for this characteristic. If you plan to get a puppy, be sure you have children that respect a dog and will treat it kindly.
The average basenji adult will be a good jogging companion ON LEASH. Don't start with such hard exercise for a puppy though. Wait to begin serious workouts until the pup is a year old. Jogging is a nice companionable way to spend time wearing down your basenji's energy levels. Have fun and be safe.
Basenjis are pretty agile and you do not want to start with a fence as low as three feet high. If a basenji can stand on his back feet to look over a fence it will occur to him that he could also go over it and over he will go! A four foot minimum would be much better and five foot would be much safer for your basenji. You don't want to begin with a very low fence that your basenji can get over because then even though you get a higher fence, he will understand that he can get over a fence and only try harder.
We have not used an invisible fence myself but have talked with people who have and who are quite happy with the results. On the other hand, I have also heard people who are not happy with the invisible systems. The electrified field for a basenji would be a bit wider than some other more sensitive breeds so you will need a large area fenced so that it isn't all used up in electrified fields.
Additionally, you must keep in mind that the fence will keep your dog in but won't keep other dogs or wildlife out.
Well, it is a comment but is an important question. Basenjis are not known for coming when called so great care should be used in where they play and whether they should play off lead in an unfenced area at all. Even if your basenji normally comes when called at home, think of what would happen if the little fellow saw a cat, squirrel, rabbit or deer running off and a road was involved. In our urban and suburban environments, there are not many of the wide open spaces a basenji requires for a free run.
Our own dogs eat primarily high quality dry dog food. They do get some goodies when we have them and during the dry winter months we increase the amount of oil in their food. Some people cook for their dogs. This is fine but does require a great deal of study and care to make sure the diet remains balanced. Whatever you try out for food, keep an eye on the condition and health of your dog and if either deteriorates, consider a different diet.
Basenjis are dogs and can get all the illnesses, diseases and medical emergencies which other canines get.
There are two major genetic illnesses that are known to the breed. First there is a late-onset eye problem called PRA – progressive retinal atrophy. This shows up by loss of night vision and then progresses to total blindness over time. This condition is normally first diagnosed when the dog is around 5 or 6 years old. One form now has a DNA test and all breeding stock should have taken this test. Research continues to identify DNA markers for other forms.
A kidney condition called Fanconi syndrome is now detectable by a DNA test. All of our breeding stock has been tested for this life-threatening disease..
More can be learned about the Fanconi Syndrome Protocol, the DNA test and about PRA at the Basenji Club of America website — basenjiclub.com.
OFA — Lists all the health test results for all breeds at this website. This is the official site for finding out if a dog has been tested for hip dysplasia, eye problems, Fanconi syndrome, etc. It isn't enough to say one's dogs are tested. The results should be publicly listed there.
Before the 1980s, basenjis were descended from about a dozen individuals who were brought from Africa to the western world between 1937 and the 1960s. This is an exceedingly small gene pool to base a healthy population on.
It had been the dream of some basenji fanciers to go back to Africa for additional dogs for a number of years when, finally, in 1987 and 1988 two trips were made and an additional dozen dogs were brought back to the USA. After much work on the part of several fanciers, the American Kennel Club was convinced that the breed's health concerns (which you read about in the answer just above this one) justified allowing the AKC Stud Book to be opened to allow this new Foundation Stock to be registered and used in breeding. Read about the project at — BCOA
Recently some additional dogs have been brought from various parts of Africa. The AKC has agreed to open the Stud Book again and it will remain open for five years. The qualifications for foundation stock applicants are explained at basenji.org where you can follow the links to see what is current. Our own Ojo is among the first to be applying.
Breeding any dog is a huge responsibility. You are bringing life into the world and you are responsible for that life for its lifetime. Can you say you have done as much testing of your dog as is necessary? Have you studied the individuals in your dog's history - her pedigree - to discover their strengths and weaknesses. Do you understand what the standard is calling for and what health concerns the breed has? Have you studied and searched for the best mate for your basenji? Are you willing to spend whatever money is necessary to breed to the best possible mate? Are you willing to take the time and money necessary to raise the pups to be good citizens? What will you do if you are unable to find good homes for the babies? What will happen a few years down the road if one or more of those babies can't remain in its home?
Jethro with toy!
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