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Basenji

Life span: 10-12 Years

Height: 41-43cm (Male); 38-41cm (Female)

Weight: 22-24 pounds

This curly tailed buddy is known as the “barkless” dog. Although they don’t bark, they are far from silent, and instead howl and scream loudly. They are stubborn and intelligent, leading to them doing as they please, which ranges from deciding whether or not to follow your commands to following something that picked their interest outside of their area. They will see a fenced yard as a minor detail when it comes to escaping.

Physical Characteristics

The Basenji has a small, strong body with large legs. Its expression always seems to be of someone with a constant and deep worry. The tail is curled over its back, its ears stand erect and high atop its head, seeming to always be at attention. Its eyes can be hazel, brown or light brown with a black or brown nose. Its short coat is rough and can be black, red, brown or light brown. Usually these colors are mixed with white that covers the tip of the tail, the underbelly, the neck area, legs and paws, but can also be purely black.

History

Originating in Africa, these dogs have been around for centuries. Pictures of dogs similar to the Basenji are shown in Egypt, with these dogs sitting at their master’s feet. They arrived at England in 1930, although attempts had been made prior to that date in 1895, but the dogs suffered from distemper and eventually died. They appeared in the United States in 1941, used as a pet and as a show breed, although its original use was for hunting small animals, finding them and luring them towards it. By the time they competed in trials, many dogs of this breed were crossbred in order to better improve the gene pool and to get a bigger variety of coat colors. In 1942 the Basenji Club of America was created, leading it to be an officially recognized breed in 1943.

Personality

Nominated the second least trainable dog by the book “The Intelligence of Dogs”, this breed tends to be stubborn and too smart for its own good. It often disobeys commands as it sees no real reason to obey them and likes to follow its instinct, often escaping fenced yards to do so, even those with an electrical collar, which they see as a minor nuisance. They do not get along with other pets and are usually attached to one person only, making them very cautious of strangers. They sometimes stand on their hind legs when something has caught their attention and will often howl and make noise to attract yours.

Health

Although generally healthy, Basenjis may suffer from:

Hip dysplasia, a hereditary disease in which there is an abnormal formation in the hip socket, that may eventually cause painful arthritis. It may also be affected by the environment they reside in.

Hypothyroidism, a disease that affects the thyroid gland, its symptoms are ear infections, skin infections, hair loss, lethargy, and depression.

Umbilical Hernia, is present since birth and causes the internal organs or abdominal fat to be pushed against the abdominal wall near the umbilicus. If small, can be left untreated, but if it is large it must be treated with surgery to prevent a deadly disease.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), in which the dogs may become night blind at first and progressively lose their day eyesight as well.

Coloboma, a hole that can appear in any area of the eye. Dogs with this disease should be spayed or neutered to prevent the disease from being passed on.

Persistent Pupillary Membrane, remnants of fetal membrane in the eye which tend to disappear on their own. If they persist they may cause cataracts, this can be treated with eye drops given to you by your veterinarian.

Hemolytic Anemia, a disease in which the dog has two defective genes preventing the proper production of pyruvate kinase, which creates healthy blood cells. Dogs with this disease do not tend to live past their second year.

Fanconi Syndrome, a disease with no cure and no test to know if your dog carries it, that consists of a kidney disease in which the sugars and proteins are not processed correctly and instead are urinated. It can be diagnosed, usually in dogs 4-7 years old and has a treatment that increases their lifespan. Its symptoms can be excessive thirst, urination and elevated levels of glucose in their urine.

Immunoproliferative Systemic Intestinal Disease, or malabsorption, is similar to irritable bowel disease, causing a seemingly permanent allergy to food. Their stools are always loose and they have difficulty gaining weight.

Care

Their short coat should be brushed once a week, and rarely need baths unless they are overly dirty. Their nails need to be trimmed regularly. They are particularly good when it comes to competitions agility, tracking, obedience and lure coursing. They should be exercised daily and constantly as they become easily bored which might result in destructive behavior. When going out for a run or walk these dogs should never be without a leash and when playing in a fenced yard should be supervised so they don’t attempt to escape. Training lessons should remain small as they get distracted and bored easily, they need socialization and training to start at a very early age and will learn better in an environment of positive reinforcement.

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