Breeding / Rearing Philosophy

We often get asked some similar questions as people learn about what it means to find a reputable breeder. This is a collection of “Barbara’s Best” answers; please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have a question that’s not covered here or in the FAQs.

How long have you been breeding Basenjis?

Jared and I have been breeding Basenjis since 2017. It was a tremendous step for us to decide to become breeders—we were committing to care for each and every dog that we bring into this world for the rest of its life, no small task. We do not breed often, and we take rigorous steps to ensure the best possible matches both conformationally and temperamentally. We have an enormous support system with our breedings and have made sure to be actively involved in other people’s breedings and whelpings to be as experienced as possible for being as new as we are. Yes, there are breeders that have been doing it far longer, but everything in life needs people to carry on the passion and pursuit—we are the new ones to carry the torch for our breed.

What health testing do you do with your dogs?

Very good question! Fanconi, PRA, and hip testing is mandatory. Even with “clear” results for both Fanconi and PRA on each parent, at times I will re-test (instead of simply relying on it being clear by parentage). Depending upon what I see as needed from the stud dog, I may request more tests of the stud dog, and likewise, I have had to do the same for my stud dogs, especially for eye testing. I want to make sure they are still CERF clear/good as adults. Fortunately, for the majority of things, our breed is very, very healthy. Since I have taken a keen interest in supporting the recent African imports, I also find myself having some very sturdy resilient dogs as results of breeding to those African imports.

Do you find Basenjis to be dog friendly towards other breeds?

It totally depends upon each and every dog! I wish I could give you a yes or no answer, but that would not be honest. My two adults that I personally have can have challenges with dogs that are “overly-friendly” and not canine-communication-savvy. (As a landrace, the Basenji has a tremendous canine-communication body language that unfortunately many other dogs have lost along the way, and thus do not recognize it when the Basenji is “talking to them” and asking them to give a little space. Basenjis like and approve of polite, quiet behavior; boisterous can be bothersome. It’s one of their unique quirks.) With all of that said, my adult female was much better before her first litter—since then she is much more protective of me and lets dogs know that she would like them to stay away. My adult male is perfectly fine if everyone has space. The puppy that I kept from our first litter is great with many, many dogs. His littermates are the same, and one frequents a secure dog park where he has a ton of fun romping and playing. So, each dog is unique and I believe this is true of all breeds—not just basenjis. In my years of training dogs, I saw many other breeds and mixes that could not handle other dogs either, so I stand my belief: It depends on the dog!

What’s your biggest “Pro” and biggest “Con” of owning a Basenji?

That is tough question. I think if it comes right down to it, I love their independent, intelligent, and clever nature. They are tricksters, they are thinkers, they are problem-solvers. As for the “Con” it would be the “lack of engagement” element that gives them all their greatness. There are days that I wish I could simply let them off leash and know without a doubt if I called their name, they would come. That is just not real. I do a lot of sports with my dogs, and the element that many, many, many other breeds have—“I am looking at you (human) to tell me what we are going to do next”—does NOT exist with Basenjis. It simply doesn’t—it would no longer be a Basenji if it did. The Basenji has been around far longer than any of us, and to a great deal, their mindset is that they don’t need us (not the same way a Border Collie or Lab does). And there are days that it would be lovely to have that constant attention and focus, but then I know that I would be annoyed out of my mind in two seconds flat—I’ve trained and lived with some of those dogs, they are not for me. So I choose to live with this paradox, and training with positive reinforcement is the only way to have a Basenji work with you. Trust me, they will shut down and get angry if you attempt to train with aversive methods. It simply does not work long-term. Build a bond by using fun and positivity in your training, and you will have a far more engaged and eager Basenji.

It is wonderful if you have the capability to work from home, and a Basenji will love that (though it is not necessary). I highly recommend maintaining and growing any crate training that has been done with the puppy—you never know when it might be necessary. Riding in a crate in the car is strongly requested/recommended.

As for parks, I feel I cannot emphasize it enough that a Basenji cannot be let loose, they must always be on leash, unless it is a securely fenced and gated area (a minimum of 6 foot fence). I am not a park fan, for my dogs and I, but I know that there are very great Basenji owners that are smart and savvy about when they go and know when it is time to leave. My problem is not with the parks or the dogs, it is typically with the other dog owners that are not paying attention. So, for my personal peace, I just avoid dog parks. It will be your decision on what you do, but it is my job to share my concerns.

While our breed is energetic, it is not the same energy as a terrier or herding or sporting breed. Our dogs love their walks, and as mature adults, they get about 2-3 miles each day. However, they are just fine to miss a day or two and instead have some puzzle games to provide mental stimulation. We do have a large secure area, so they can romp, play, sunbathe, potty when necessary, so they don’t have to go on a walk more than once each day. It is wonderful that you plan to walk the puppy/dog multiple times each day! Each of my puppies is litter trained and is started on going outside to potty, as well. Change in home will cause some regression, so I will prep you with the tools to be ready for house-training.

I tend to keep my puppies to 12 weeks. There is a lot of early developmental training that I want to get a jump on to better prepare the puppy to live in our human world and make the transition to their new home easier. I assure you that you will have no lesser of a bond if the puppy goes home with you at that age versus 8 weeks. 8 weeks is a crucial developmental period and I prefer that the puppies not experience change in homes during that can-be stressful time, thus my desire to keep them longer. This is simply my personal preference. I also follow the Puppy Culture rearing philosophy to the letter and have been able to witness in my own puppies, as well as others, the positive difference.

One thing I will also highly recommend are puzzle games—get them! Mental stimulation is number one in overcoming boredom and preventing potential problems that come from being bored. Walks are not often enough. Work the brain—happy dog!