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Looking for a smaller dog that is tough as nails? One who will bond with only one person and not take off with any stranger that comes by? Then the Basenji may make a great fit.
The Basenji is an ancient breed that is believed to predate the modern breeds of the 19th century. The modern Basenji hails from central Africa and was bred to hunt lions.
The Basenjis are small, short-haired dogs with erect ears, tightly curled tails and graceful necks and a wrinkled forehead. This breed typically weighs from 20 to 24 pounds and stands 16 to 18 inches at the shoulder. Today they are typically classified as a member of the hound group.
The Basenji is emotionally detached and will bond to a single person rather than a family. Basenjis do not get along with non-canine pets and are not tolerant of children. The average life span of the Basenji ranges from 12-14 years.
Basenjis do not bark, but rather have a yodel called a barroo. Female dogs go into heat only once yearly. Independent and aloof, this breed is also cat-like in that they are fastidious groomers. The Basenji is short-haired and low shedding.
The Basenji was ranked as one of the least intelligent breeds of dogs by over 200 professional dog obedience judges in the book “The Intelligence of Dogs.” This breed was given the dubious distinction of being 109th of 110 different breeds of dog ranked. Only the Afghan Hound was ranked lower on the intelligence scale.
The Basenji is more prone to a pyruvate kinase deficiency which may be an inherited cause of hemolytic anemia in this breed. The mode of inheritance is believed to be autosomal recessive. In addition, myelofibrosis may also accompany this disorder.
In the basenji, three eye disorders: Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), Persistant Pupillary Membrane (PPM) and ON coloboma occur and are suspected to be heritable. Cataracts also occur with more frequency in this breed but as yet their cause is unknown.
Low serum total T4 and free T4 concentrations are used to diagnose hypothyroidism. Low levels of these hormones may occur naturally in the Basenji. Since these hormone levels differ considerably from those in the general canine population they may lead to the misdiagnosis of hypothyroidism in the Basenji.
The Basenji is more commonly affected by lymphangiectasia than other breeds of dogs. This is a chronic protein-losing enteropathy also known as lymphatic lymphangiectasia.
The Basenji is at greater risk of developing IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). This is a painful and chronic gastro-intestinal condition which results in vomiting, loose stools, loss of appetite and weight loss.
Fanconi Syndrome is an inheritable disorder in the Basenji in which the kidneys fail to reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients. Symptoms include excessive drinking (polydipsia) excessive urination (polyuria) and glucose in the urine which may lead to a misdiagnosis of diabetes. A genetic test is now available through the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or OFA for detection of Fanconi Syndrome.