JUDGING THE BASENJI
By Marianne Klinkowski Judges Education Coordinator, Basenji Club of America
he Basenji is one of only a few breeds on earth in which healthy populations of indig- enous native stock can be accessed and bred
A typical hunt takes place in the dense jungle where long nets are stretched out by experienced hunters who wait with sharpened spears for approaching game flushed by the pursuing dogs. Basenjis do not hunt in organized packs but are more like independent contractors who move at breakneck speed through virtually impenetrable brush, wearing hand- fash- ioned hunting bells around their necks so the hunters can track the individual dogs at all times. Th eir working gait is a series of lightning fast leaps and bounds through tangled undergrowth and the dogs must be small and agile enough to traverse the jungle yet strong enough to push through nearly impassable thickets when necessary, while not getting hung up in the dense cover. When you judge the Basenji, you will be looking for a dog which is not only capable of performing his ancestral duties but of surviving the experience as well. Th e Basenji standard was well-written to describe such a dog, a natural hunter. When a class enters your ring, your first impression should be that of square, fine-boned, leggy dogs with the grace
into AKC domestic populations. Th e American Kennel Club has allowed us to re-open our stud book on a temporary basis and incorporate carefully selected and rigorously evaluated native African Basenjis into our breeding programs. Several expeditions composed of intrepid Basenji fanciers have already made the long trek to central Africa to bring back native Basenjis and more deep-jungle safaris are currently planned. Th is is an exciting time for Basenji enthusiasts and judges alike who are intrigued by these enchanting African imps. Th is is an ancient breed, long prized as silent hunters by tribesmen in remote areas of central Africa. Th e hunting dogs lived in the villages with the families, played with the children and slept in the huts at night. Living in isolation, the dogs would be protective of the villagers and naturally aloof with strangers.
of gazelles. Th e clumsy, cloddy Basenji should not make it past your first cut. Toplines should be level, necks should be well-arched, curly tails should be high-set, angulation should be moderate and bal- anced and front fill is a necessity. Movement is light and e ff ortless and should put you in mind of a highly-bred Th oroughbred horse joyfully skimming the earth while out for an afternoon jaunt.
“When you judge the Basenji, you will be looking for a dog WHICH IS NOT ONLY CAPABLE OF PERFORMING HIS ANCESTRAL DUTIES BUT OF SURVIVING THE EXPERIENCE AS WELL.”
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