This is a global post because myself, and most other basenji breeders I know, are receiving exponentially more inquiries for puppies than ever before.
The window to bring a puppy home is relatively small for basenjis as most puppies go home between February and April each year. We all understand that lots of people are home right now and the prospect of bringing a puppy home is joyful and exciting, and well timed since everyone is home.
However, keep in mind most basenjis come into heat only once a year, which means puppies are born only once per year. The majority of basenjis have puppies in the fall or early winter (November to January), with pups leaving 8-12 weeks after they’re born, which is February-April usually. Many times, the only way to guarantee a puppy from a responsible breeder is contacting them ahead of time and getting on a wait list, as by the time they’re born, a majority are already reserved. It’s never too early to work with a breeder and get on their waiting list!
There are a very small handful that have spring seasons, but many don’t conceive in the spring even if they come into season, and if you’re holding out hope for the 5%, you better already be talking to a breeder, because those puppies are likely already reserved by the time they’re born too.
Sometimes unethical breeders will have puppies long after ethical breeders have placed theirs. When you breed 30+ puppies in one season, it’s not unusual to have left overs…however if you’re excited by the chance of getting a basenji, even from an unethical source, you don’t really love basenjis. Unethical breeders don’t really care about the basenji either, they care about making puppies which equals a profit and they don’t health test as they should either, although they will quickly lie to you and tell you that all the health testing is done! They don’t care about the dogs in their care, why would they care about lying to potential buyers? I’m not saying all unethical breeders can’t “love their dogs” or come off as really nice and sweet people…a mean sales person wouldn’t sell much merchandise, so of course they have got to be nice people who sound perfect…but that’s where education and verification come into play. My grandmother was a wonderful person who loved everyone, but if she decided one day to breed dogs just to produce puppies because she likes making people happy with puppies, she would have been an unethical breeder. Ethical breeding focuses on preserving and bettering the breed for generations to come, it involves temperament selection, structure selection, and health testing to produce the best possible puppies.
The best starting place for finding good and ethical breeders is the national breed club website, the Basenji Club of America (BCOA). The BCOA works very closely with the AKC and OFA to set recommendations for standards and health testing of Basenjis used for breeding. These recommendations ensure genetic issues don’t plague the breed and that puppies are not produced who will be afflicted with genetic disorders and diseases. You can find a breeder directory here, broken up by state: https://www.basenji.org/in…/about-basenjis/breeder-directory
The BCOA also has a breeder liaison, Denise Vertrees, who helps people locate breeders if they’re not sure where to start. Not all breeders are listed in the directory as some don’t breed every year, so emailing Denise may give you more results than the directory. Her email is email@example.com
It should be noted that even though breeders may be listed through the BCOA, there are NO set requirements for BCOA breeders or ANY breeders in the USA, only recommendations, so each breeder is different in their standards and practices. EVERY breeder should be vetted thoroughly and all claims should be verified for accuracy as it’s quite easy for a charming sales person to lie to the unsuspecting public. Bottom line, if you don’t feel comfortable with the breeders practices, answers to questions, or communication, don’t buy from them!
Pedigrees can be verified on the Zande pedigree database
and health results can be verified on the OFA website.
Any breeder who will not give you information to research on the pedigree database or OFA’s website is a potential red flag. Reputable breeders often pride themselves on transparency in their breeding practices and will readily share pertinent information with potential buyers.
A basenji puppy from a responsible breeder will usually cost between $1500–$2500 depending on the area and location. Puppy mills and unethical breeders can often run the same amount, so price should never be a deciding factor! One of the biggest myths about getting a puppy is that you don’t need to go to a responsible breeder if you just want a pet. Most breeders who participate in dog shows and whose puppies have champions in their pedigrees keep just one or two of the best puppies from a litter for show. All the rest go straight to pet homes. (It’s also worth mentioning that the vast majority of “show dogs” are pets on their days off, too. ) Contrary to popular belief, the cost of a responsibly bred puppy isn’t due to its fancy pedigree or show potential, but the extensive health-testing, socialization, and care that it and its parents have received.
Although it can seem like you’re getting a “bargain” from an irresponsible breeder, a lot of times you’re being charged the same–or more!–than you would pay for a responsibly bred puppy. Would you rather pay $1500–$2500 for a puppy whose parents are health-tested for all known genetic diseases and have been selected for their good temperaments? A puppy who is extensively socialized with people and children? Who has received quality nutrition and veterinary care? Or would you rather pay a little less (or sometimes even the same amount) for a puppy who might not have any of these, taking into consideration that doing the health tests yourself, treating serious health conditions, and / or bringing in a trainer to help with behavioral problems can quickly cost you hundreds of additional dollars? A puppy mill or backyard breeders #1 goal is usually to make money. In contrast, a responsible breeder is lucky to break even on a litter of puppies and sometimes even loses money. Additionally, a responsible breeder will be there to give advice and support for your basenji’s entire life. In the long run, it’s cheaper, easier, and safer to get a puppy from a responsible breeder.
Make sure any breeder you’re considering getting a puppy from does not sell puppies before they are 8–12 weeks old. A puppy separated from its mom and littermates too early can have serious behavioral problems as it grows up. It is crucial that your puppy stay with its mother and littermate for at least 8 weeks so that it learns crucial skills like bite inhibition and appropriate play behavior. A 2011 study comparing adult dogs that were adopted at 4 to 5 weeks of age vs. 8 weeks found that those adopted before 8 weeks had much greater odds of “displaying destructiveness, excessive barking, fearfulness on walks, reactivity to noises, toy possessiveness, food possessiveness and attention-seeking.” An irresponsible breeder might try to convince you that the puppy will be fine it it goes to you before 8 weeks, that you need to take it home early so it can bond better with you, but this simply is not backed up by science. In reality, the less time an irresponsible breeder keeps a puppy around, the less they will have to pay in food, vet care, and supplies and the less time they will have to spend taking care of that puppy.
It is also very important to find a breeder who health tests. There are some significant health concerns associated with basenjis, just like with any breed. The BCOA recommends that any basenji being used for breeding be tested for Fanconi syndrome, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and autoimmune thyroiditis, have an eye exam from a canine ophthalmologist and an X-ray screening for hip dysplasia.
If you don’t care about health testing, socialization, and the care of the parents…do you really love basenjis? These things help preserve the breed for many generations instead of producing poor health and bad temperaments. Most older breed enthusiasts can tell you of HORRIBLE temperaments that were well known years ago and how the breed as a whole has strived to produce better temperaments or how devastating illness broke the hearts of tons of owners until health testing became available.
So find a breeder you like, that you agree with their ethics and practices, that you can communicate with, and that will be available for the life of your puppy to help guide and answer any questions you may have. Adding a puppy should never be an impulse decision, and adding a purebred puppy should ALWAYS be from an ethical source.
Again, if you do not care about health testing and genetics, you are better off with a mixed breed from a shelter or rescue, than buying from an unethical breeder. Never believe you are “rescuing” from unethical breeders as all they will see is profit and continued demand for their product, which will condemn the breeding dogs left behind when you take your puppy home.
Reputable and ethical basenji rescues include BRAT and Camp Basenji. If wanting to go the adoption route over purchasing route, it’s recommended to have your application on file, and your home visit completed (as required) BEFORE a dog you’re interested in comes available. This will help ensure you’re at the top of the list for potential adopters because your requirements are already completed.
There is a Facebook group for prospective owners to educate themselves on breeders and the buying process, this group includes an extensive list of potential “red flag” breeders who may not fall into the “ethical” breeder criteria. If you want to join the group, search “Basenji puppies get educated” and be sure to answer all the questions.
It should also be noted that Pet Stores are 100% sourced from puppy mills unless required to only sell shelter animals, in which case, you won’t find purebreds readily available. Any pet store who tells you the puppies are sourced from ethical breeders is 100% lying to you, don’t get taken advantage of by a well rehearsed speech.
In conclusion, by all means contact breeders or rescues, but know that ownership can be a lengthy process, and instant gratification generally has a poor ending when it comes to animal ownership. Patience and planning will ensure you and your future basenji are set up for success!
Now stay safe and healthy out there!!
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Welcome to Mandalay Basenjis, a small smoke free Family run kennel located in Southwestern Ontario. Our dogs are registered with CKC, AKC, UKC, NAMASCUSA & MASCA. Please take a moment to view our website and all it has to offer.
We have been in Basenjis about 30 years and are currently owned by 3 Basenjis: Amira (9), OhMe (5), Doppler (2) and 1 North American Shepherd (Novi 8 years).
We here at Mandalay are proud that all of our dogs have multiple titles and participate in various activities such as Conformation, Obedience, Rally, Agility, Racing, Weight Pull, Barn Hunt, Flyball, Nosework & Lure Coursing. Our dogs participate at various venues such as CKC, AKC, UKC, RBCOSWO, MASCA, NAMASCUSA, ASCA, ICKC, CARO & CARA. We take the time to find out where each of dog excels and let them participate in the activites that they enjoy. I am here to answer any of your questions you may have and if you are interested in participating in our Dog Sports then I will help you get started.
If you are still researching the breed then I would also recommend the Basenji Club of America and Basenji Club of Canada websites. Both sites offer tons of info on this unique breed. Contacting breeders (check out www.ckc.ca, www.akc.org, www.ukcdogs.com, www.canadasdogbreeders.com or For The Love OF Purebred Dogs) and going to dog shows to meet the breed are also great ways of learning to see if this is the breed for you. If you feel that the Basenji is the dog for you then please call us at 519-697-DOGS (3647). We accept phone calls Mon-Sun 7am-8pm EST.
Hope I have been able to answer your questions.