Showsight Presents The Basenji

PROPORTIONALLY SPEAKING

In a sincere attempt to “fix” the ancient Basenji, many who are new (not just to Basenjis, but to dogs in general) have chosen to change the construction to match the generic dog depicted in so many generalized studies on “the movement of the dog.” Sadly, in so doing, they have lost the essence of the original Basenji. The 1942 Standard, the only approved version written with some input from those breed founders who had seen Basenjis in the jungles of the Congo back in the 1920s and ‘30s, reads: “The general appearance is one of springy poise and alertness, greatly resembling an antelope.” I think the desire was for the Basenji to stand “up on his legs.” (See antelope below.)

Whelped 2017, American Champion

The Basenji was known a hundred years ago as, “M’Bwa M’Kube M’Bwawamwitu” or the “Jumping Up and Down Dog.” This was because their square, agile, moderately angulated construction allowed them to jump straight up in the deep grass and “hover” to sight the game. They could also jump straight up in the air and turn, to run in the reverse direction should this be necessary to make an escape! Agil- ity (due to the breed’s balanced, square, short-bodied, short-backed and short-coupled construction) is far more typical of the correct Basenji than is the rectangular dog, strung up and being raced around the ring. The Basenji should always be moved on a loose lead and judged as they come to a natural stop. There should be that air of poise and quiz- zical alertness as they check out their surroundings. The rear should be in balance with the front, just enough under the dog to enable an agile escape. Olivia Burn writes in one of her columns about seeing the dogs work in the 1920s, and that there were “coy” (cross-breeds) among them as far back as then. Yes, there have been those intrepid travelers trekking into Africa in search of new stock. It is the rare new import—sixty to a hundred years later—that is truly of a Basenji type as the English were attempting to establish the breed in the ‘30s. However, the Basenji is so prepotent that it has not been difficult to incorporate for health and retain correct type. It is not known by many, but the 1942 Standard was not actually the first. There was a Standard written up by the original members of the Basenji Club of Great Britain in 1939, when they all first got together to establish the Basenji Club of Great Britain. Because of World War II, it was never submitted to the Kennel Club for approval. After the war, the early founders of the breed were scattered and no longer actu- ally working with the club. The major influence on the 1942 Stan- dard was Veronica Tudor-Williams, who had been mentored by those early founders.

Whelped 1983, American Champion, National Specialty WB, BOS, 2 JOAM & BBHR

African Import, Registered as Foundation Stock, 2009

SHOWSIGHT MAGAZINE, SPRING EDITION | 209

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