What is a Reputable Basenji Breeder?
A reputable breeder has the health of the dam and sire checked, and can verify this in writing:
Hips: The breeder should be able to furnish a copy of the OFA certificate of both parents. If you get the registered names, or even just the kennel name, you can get the OFA rating from the OFA site: www.offa.org If you need help looking up a name, just let me know and I'll help if I can.
Eyes: The breeder should be able to furnish eye test reports of both parents and the pups. A CERF certificate means the eyes, at the time of testing, were normal. If a puppy's eyes were examined, but the CERF paper lists a few problems, it may still lead a very normal life. Ask about the various things on the certificate to determine how/if its sight will be affected. Also, eye conditions change, and should be checked yearly. Be sure the reports you see are current.
Fanconi: The breeder should be doing monthly urine strip testing of any dog older than 3 years. There are no written verifications of this test, only the breeder's word.
Be sure to read the Health Page of this packet. Besides the three above, there are other health concerns in basenjis you should be aware of.
NOTE: No breeder can guarantee against all hereditary diseases, but a reputable breeder is well informed about basenji health issues, routinely tests for them, and informs prospective puppy buyers of any problems they have found. Buying from a reputable breeder is your best bet for a healthy pup.
A reputable breeder will tell you of the basenji breed's unique temperament and needs. He will give you the good and the bad points of having a basenji in your home. He will follow up on dogs he has placed, and will be available for support for the life of your pet.
He will ask you many questions, may even ask you to fill out an application. He will ask about your family, lifestyle, previous dogs you have had, your experience, your yard, and your plans for your pup. He might even require references. He is not being nosy. He just cares about the pups he has brought into this world, and wants to place them in the best home possible. He wants to be sure this is not just an impulse buy that will result in the dog needing a new home in a year. Be leery of a breeder who will sell their pups to just anyone, no questions asked.
A good breeder will have the pups in their home, not out in a kennel, no matter how elaborate. Basenjis especially, need to know human contact from day one. They need to realize humans are in their lives from an early age. They need to be acclimated to the hustle and bustle of family life. Telephones, tvs, kitchen appliances, footsteps, doors slamming, etc. Ask the breeder about the socialization he has done with the pups. Early socialization is extremely important in this breed. The 6-8 week period is a crucial one - this is when the mother (and littermates) teach the pups to be 'good dogs.' Any breeder selling pups younger than 8 weeks is not willing to put in the extra time and money needed for well adjusted basenjis.
The dewclaws should not still be on the pup. They are taken off when the puppies are days old, and is one indication that the breeder is serious about the breed, and is willing to spend the money necessary in raising a litter.
A good breeder is willing to show you their facilities. You should be able to meet the dam. There will probably even be other dogs: aunts, uncles, cousins, of the litter available. Breeders are usually very proud of their dogs and love to show them off! The sire of the litter may not be available, as often the best match for a particular bitch is a different kennel's dog. But there should be photos, pedigrees, and health test results of the sire for you to see.
Unfortunately there are basenjis with bad temperaments. I believe much of a dog's temperament is inherited, though of course environment is also a factor. Seeing other dogs in the same line will help you in evaluating the temperament of a breeder's line. Ask where they got their dogs, and check with that breeder, to see if they are still comfortable that one of their dogs is with the breeder you are interviewing. Be leery of anyone who will not tell you where they got their dogs. They could possibly be hiding the fact that they were purchased from a pet shop or puppy mill, and should not have been bred.
A reputable breeder will have educational handouts they are willing to send to you, to help you in your decision. He should be able to provide references of satisfied puppy buyers. Follow up, ask those people if they are happy with their dog.
Good breeders are actively involved in the dog fancy. Ask what clubs they are members of. What activities they do with their dogs. They should be regularly showing their dogs in conformation, as that is how good breeders know they are on the right track with their breeding program. A breeder who is involved in lure coursing is one who is concerned about preserving the hunting instincts of the basenji. Anyone who shows in obedience or agility with their basenjis is demonstrating not only that they are patient people, but also that they care about their dogs' mental health as well as their physical health. Of course, many good breeders can not do it all. But they should be willing to show and explain titles on the dogs in their pedigrees, the more, the better. They should be able to furnish information on titles received on pups they have placed in the past.
Basenji breeders should be active in the basenji rescue or education. Not every one has facilities to house rescues, but there are other ways of helping. Being an active member of the BCOA or local basenji or all breed club provides plenty of opportunities to help the basenji breed and canines in general.
Breeders should be able to furnish a 3 generation (more is better) pedigree of the litter. He should be willing to explain anything on the pedigree you do not understand. However, a pedigree is just a bunch of names, a list of the litter's ancestors. Even puppy mills provide pedigrees, though often their reliability is questionable. The breeder should be willing to tell you of any health problems in the pedigree. If he says there are none, he is at the very least naive, and worst, dishonest. With a gene pool as small as the basenjis', I am not convinced there are any lines that have absolutely no problems somewhere in the pedigree or in littermates of the dogs in the pedigree.
You should be required to sign a contract for any puppy you buy. This contract should include a health guarantee for a certain period of time, and a clause stating the breeder requires that the basenji be returned to him if you should ever decide to not keep it (no matter what age or what reason). If the pup is sold as a pet, it should include a spay/neuter clause. It should list the medical treatment the pup has received, including vaccinations and any parasites it was treated for. No vaccines? RUN away, that breeder is only breeding for money, and does not care what happens to that puppy, or how you're going to feel when it dies of parvo.
The contract may include other things specific to a particular breeder. The breeder should be willing to supply a copy of this contract ahead of time, so you may read it to be sure you agree with the terms. Do not sign any contract unless you are willing to abide by all of it. Do not let the allure of that cute puppy cloud your good judgement. Be aware of any 'puppy lemon laws' in your state.
A basenji breeder should strive for the best health, temperament, and conformation. He should have a strong interest in the health and welfare of all basenjis, and their future. His motive with each breeding should be to try to maintain the basenjis unique characteristics, produce basenjis that very closely adhere to the AKC (if in the US) basenji standard, while always considering the health and temperaments of the dogs he produces.
The AKC is just a registering organization. AKC registration papers do not guarantee quality, only that the pup's parents were also registered. It is up to you as a consumer to do your homework when deciding where to get your basenji. Beware of breeders who scoff at health testing, saying their line is problem free. Do not buy in haste. Be willing to wait for a pup that has the best chance of living a long healthy life. The purchase price is only a small percentage of the money you will spend on a companion you will have for years. Increase your chances of a healthy pup by following the above guidelines when choosing a breeder.
Keep in mind: A good website does not mean a good breeder. I get many compliments on my site, and I consider myself a good basenji breeder. However, many many good breeders do not have sites, or have very simple ones. And there are several sites out there that are impressive, but the breeders are the type I would never recommend to anyone. A website is like the front door to the breeder, not an indication of their commitment to the breed.
The above info is my opinion, Vickie Perrine, Rugosa Basenjis.
It is given for the sole purpose of educating those interested in the basenji breed. My only goal is to help those unfamiliar with basenjis make informed decisions when choosing the basenji as a pet, and when looking for a reputable breeder. I respect those whose opinions vary from mine, and would love to discuss them, as I am always eager to learn from others. Please feel free to contact me at 419-836-9833 or RugosaB@aol.com
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