Showsight Presents The Basenji

THE BASENJI THE BARKLESS DOG

WITH BECKY BLANSETT, SANDRA LEE BRIDGES, KATIE CAMPBELL, BRENDA J. CASSELL, LEE CRANMER, KAREN HUTCHISON, PENELOPE C. INAN, SUSAN KAMEN MARSICANO, VICKI PERRINE, CECILY RAPPE’ AND JOY ROBBINS

1. Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general and specifically the Basenji? SB: For purebred dogs in general, I see a preponderance of straight, far-forward shoulder assemblies coupled with overly angulated rears, resulting in what most think is “great reach and drive”, but is actually fronts being lifted high to avoid being kicked by the overstepping rear. This entire unfortunate animal is then raced madly around the ring dragging its handler behind. This spec- tacle is extremely difficult to watch for those of us who are and have been students of canine anatomy and movement. For the Basenji in particular, I am distressed by the lack of the “square, appearing high on the leg” little dog, whose short back and loin enabled him to be unbeliev- ably agile. The truly correct Basenji does not race, but rather skims lightly over the ground, a gait I have not seen since I judged in Australia 14 years ago. True Basenji type has been sacrificed in favor of group and Bests in Show wins. PI: The Basenji is a small hunting dog that was carried around the necks of pygmies. Size has been an issue off and on, but the current problem, in my honest opinion, is not height but, length. CR: We are losing type in favor of flashy side gait that is not always correct. 2. The biggest concern you have about your breed, medical, structural, temperament-wise? BB: Big concern is movement. It has been the fad to race Basenjis around the ring. Fast is not correct. At a mod- erate speed, let the dog set the pace, not the handler. Too many dogs are “climbing up” when they move, this should never be rewarded. SB: Long-backed dogs with long loins have ruined outline type in most Basenjis. There is also a distressing tendency to believe that the “rounded cushions” refer to cheeks, when they are, in fact, to be at the end of the muzzle when viewed face on. The skull and muzzle should taper cleanly without cheekiness. Veronica Tudor-Williams referred to their heads as “foxy”. SM: I am always concerned by the “breeding season”. I can- not like the idea of breeding every year, in the quest for the next great show dog. All this while rehoming used up show dogs.

CR: We need to reach the public more with person-to-per- son contact rather than social media or email.

3. Advice to new breeders? Advice to a new judge of the Basenji? BB: To new breeders: Your best tool is a great mentor; sev- eral is even better. A mentor who will tell you when you are making a mistake as quickly as they praise you. Learn about the bloodlines of your stock and of as many differ- ent bloodlines as you can. Study the health, structure, temperament, and type of various bloodlines. Don’t think you are an instant expert because you have finished a dog or two or, you have bred a champion or, two or, three or, four. Go to shows and study dogs; talk to other breeders. Always, seek more knowledge and information. Don’t breed if you are not willing to do all the health testing on both parents. If someone wants to breed to your male, require all the health testing on their bitch. If you are not breeding to improve the breed, don’t breed. To new judges: I appreciate showing the bite instead of the judge putting their hands in my dog’s mouth. Please, don’t uncurl the tail! SB: To new breeders: Listen for the first five years and research in depth the history of the breed. This helps shape your own ideal of the Basenji. Then buy the abso- lute best bitch you can who conforms to that ideal, breed her to the best of your ability and finally, remember throughout your breeding career that the most important thing you need to do is select and exhibit only those pups that come as close as possible to your personal ideal. What you show to the world defines you as either a knowledgeable and thus, successful breeder or just another “five-year wonder” who shows entire litters and lets the judges decide what’s to be shown. To new judges: Please do a little research on the history of this unique breed. They were carried to the hunt by their pygmy owners—they could not be large or long- bodied. They had an abundance of loose skin, resulting in profuse wrinkles on their forehead when their small cupped ears were pricked well forward over their faces. Add to this the square outline with high on leg look resulting from moderate and perfectly balanced angula- tion, a curly tail and a free stacked look resembling an alert little antelope and this is the essence of Basenji.

S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , J ULY 2017 • 229

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