What does it mean to add genes?

Whoa - aren't we just going down the road of producing mongrels? Surely before genes are introduced they should be proven Basenji? Yes temperament and health are important but so also is the conservation and preservation of the breed in my opinion. If this isn't so I and breeders like me have just wasted our lives.

When our premier club (Basenji Club of Great Britain) was founded one of it's aims was to protect the native ideal, meaning at that time the Basenji that had come to us out of the then Belgian Congo. Now we're talking about including dogs which are similar just to introduce new genes. Is it no longer possible to produce a healthy breed without introgression? (if that's the correct term)

But then, what is a Basenji? It's name, translated means nothing more then village dog, and the original Basenji's where nothing more then some random species of those village dogs found in the Congo. Seeing at old pictures, I see a lot of differences between the first imported Basenji's, and the modern Basenji's. So which one are the real Basenji's? The ones that are modified and bred to have a perfect curled tail, are a bit larger and wider then the ones you still find in African villages, or the ones that are a bit more diverse and still being used to hunt gambia rats and other small game?
In my eyes, the Basenji we breed as a pet, according to breed-standards, isn't the same dog anymore as the native ideal. So in that aspect, I would say that the attempt to protect the native ideal, was a waste of time indeed. They took a few dogs, and decided that the breed should look like those few dogs. But starting with just a few dogs isn't really respresentive for a breed. And only breeding to a breed-standard that is based on just those few dogs, will, no matter what, result in dogs that don't look that much at their ancestors anymore.
Doesn't have to be a bad thing, after all, that's how most of the different breeds we have now have started, but question is if keeping that breed-standard so tight, is really a good thing. Getting some new imports may change the looks of the breed a bit, but will ensure a healthy evolution of the breed. And all breeds evolve, and so should the breed-standard. Sticking to the same breed-standard for decennia, without allowing the breed to evolve, will cause problems, garanteed. That's one of the main reasons so many breeds have so many problems.

I disagree somewhat, Voodoo, the original standard set up in the UK was formulated by a panel some of who were familiar with what we call Basenjis in their native habitat. It wasn't just based on the few imports. There were indeed several different types (although not nearly as many as we have now) and this was also taken into account. I have always tried to breed to those types and indeed when we took two of our Basenjis to visit with Michaela Denis who'd travelled in the Congo in the 50s and had native dogs then she told us that they were exactly like those she'd seen.

This breed was unchanged for 100s of years and has been acknowledged as the oldest domesticated breed so has obviously not produced major problems for lack of diversity.

This thread will teach me so much. Thanks for starting it.

There are so many breeds that are said to be acknowledged as the oldest domesticated breed… Look up 30 breeds and at least 10 will claim to be one of the oldest or the oldest breed. Paintings where found with dogs simular to Basenji's, but if that means that it where Basenji's? Podenco owners think it are Podenco's, Xolo owners claim it are Xolo's, Greyhound owners also claim it are Greyhounds... No one who can tell what dogs it really where, maybe one of the breeds we still have today, maybe a breed that was simular but has been extinct for a long time.

That the Basenji was unchanged for 100s of years is also a myth if you ask me. A Basenji is nothing more then a mongrel. All the dogs in those villages run loose, interbreed, dogs from different villages are exchanged, an occasional other breed is mixed in... Cause the people there prefer a certain size of dog, most of the dogs found there are of simular size, weigh and appearence. You find that all over the world. But that the breed is unchanged? I wouldn't dare to say that. It's still the same type of dog, but will have evolved over the years.

And you will find dogs over there that are simular like the ones we have over here. But you also find a lot that don't have a curly tail, or don't have 4 white feet. Aren't those Basenji's then?

Patty has touched on something in this thread and the other, something that is an important point for me. Any African village is not where basenjis historically came from. With a couple of exceptions there is geographically defined area where the african dogs we call basenji came from. I do think geography matters when weighing whether a dog is a basenji. I also feel that there is a distinct but related breed called avuvi that come from different geographic area in Africa. I hve seen pictures of avuvi dogs owned by people outside the US and have observed a distinct breed type in the dogs that is different from basenjis.

When talk of the opening the stud book again began several years ago, one person said that when it comes down to it the only real tool we have is "the duck test", if it looks like a duck, walks like duck, sounds like a duck, and comes from where ducks live then it is probably a duck. I sometimes feel that people want to skip parts of this and say well it looks kind of like a duck and I really want a duck so lets just call it a duck and hope it isn't really goose.

We don't often see much discussion on where do we really think the geographic range of the native basenji is. Not just where it was but realistically what can we expect it to be now. If there was more information and discussion about this would that change how people voted on some of the dogs put forth? I don't know but I know it is something I always consider when looking at dogs brought back from Africa.

How many people have seen Native Stock in person? How many have seen Native Stock from several importation areas? As someone who has seen Avongaras, Ntombas, Jengis, and Avuvis all in person, I can honestly say a carefully selected picture submitted with an application does not tell the whole tale.

Does that mean the whole system is meaningless? I don't think so but I do think that people need to really think about the whole picture instead of one thing.

Do you all think the "pressure" of knowing the stud book is closing, is making some folks submit dogs who should not be submitted? Just a general question, not thinking of any specific dog/group with this question.

From my personal observations based on the other threads and other discussions out on other lists, it seems like there is a wide perspective in the fancy of what a "basenji" is, particularly with regards to native stock. And a much wider perspective that I would have thought being new to the breed. I'm willing to keep a relatively open mind and hear different perspectives. And I think lvoss and Patty touched on some of the issues which are really relevant. A basenji is an African village dog but not all African village dogs are basenjis.

After reading the Coppingers book, a paragraph really stuck in my mind regarding natural breeds with a main sentence here"…I would never expect to find an ancient breed of dog in the sense that the present population represents the gene frequency of its ancient ancestors." The selective pressures are different now than they were back in VTW's day. Even if we stick the historic geography with all of the refugee movements (and their dogs moving with them per Mike Work's interview in the Bulletin) the available gene pool is changing. Looking into the future, the dogs of VTW's day are probably well long gone, except perhaps in very isolated areas. Even those dogs will continue to change over time if they aren't used in the same manner for hunting as in the past. So the choices breeders make now will be very important moving forward. We may not get another chance to open the stud book and even if we do it will be even more difficult to find native stock worth breeding. Personally I'm not even sure we should try to open it again. If we can't or don't know how to effectively use the native stock we have already, what's the point of getting more?

Wouldn't the point of "being" able to add more,to allow folks who have gone to Africa or new folks to go, to check out "different" areas that maybe aren't open now?

As someone else so put it to me…and very well put

"We want new and diverse BASENJI GENES. And every African village dog that "sort of looks like" a Basenji ... isn't one, never has been one, and for a great many of us, never will be one. What we need to add are Basenji-genes, not "Any Ol' Village Dog" genes. There's no evidence that "Any Ol' Village Dog" was ever a REAL part of the "mix" that went into creating the gene pool outside of the Congo"

And to carry that further, as Lisa stated... it is not just using these dogs once and the for the next 4 to 5 generations using all domestics.. that does not expand the gene pool... We need imported genes with "Basenji Type"... not just local village dogs that sort of look like Basenjis.

@lvoss:

Debra, that is not so. I attend many seminars given by well respected geneticists. … The scientific answer is after 5 generations a single outcross event is no longer genetically significant.

Okay let's try math.. although I don't think anyone said you would ONLY outcross once, but let's go for it.
G1: offspring 1/2 outcross
G2: pups carry 1/4 genes
g3: 1/8
g4: 1/16
g5: 1/32

Small but there. And the more closed that non-outcross gene pool is, the more significant that impact can be. Or if the outcross carries a dominant gene that causes some significant change, like your example.

But trait and gene are not the same thing. You can breed that 5th generation to look precisely like the main group, but you did NOT remove the genes entirely.

But we can certainly agree that it takes a lot more than 1 outcross to make much difference.

And when you have a limited gene pool already and then do a lot of line breeding, it gets even more limited.

Although to be honest, having seen a inbreeding coefficient worked on on a Rottie who had NO common ancestors in 4 generations, but more and more the same dogs from 5th to 10, it was frightening to realize how actually limited the genes are in dogs that are seemingly "barely" related.

On to the where the basenji come from… do you really think that most the dogs aren't very closely related and that the different looks expressing conditions/regional selection etc rather than genetics? And if there are dogs who look much more basenji in certain regions, why didn't BCOA limit dogs to those from those areas?

I like you duck/goose analogy, btw. Because when I looked at some of those show pics, I thought they looked Basenji-ish, but not truly Basenji. Yet how many generations would it take to make them look Basenji and isn't the gene pool issue worth that effort? Or would they be so little used it wouldn't help as someone pointed out (you?)?

Great post Nemo, but why not, then, fund a big project to bring in as many as we possibly can while there are hopes for getting as many left as possible? And of course, that goes back to my original question for breeders about the health of the breed and if bringing in more dogs is helpful. Because I really don't know. Yet what rings in my head is the comment to new people posting for the newbie to tell where they got their dog from as most here are related. It really is truer than seems comfortable to me.

Pat,
Isn't that what the BCOA board and the eval's are for? We know there are folks breeding village dogs. Those dogs have not been accepted, so aren't basenjis. For those dogs who are evaled and accepted, allowing them to be called basenjis and be used to expand the gene pool to those who want to use them, that is the goal yes? I don't think we will get "show" quality b's from the wild. BUT I do think some are very basenji like. Again, my uneducated opinion. I am learning a lot with this thread.

@sharronhurlbut:

Pat,
Isn't that what the BCOA board and the eval's are for? We know there are folks breeding village dogs. Those dogs have not been accepted, so aren't basenjis. For those dogs who are evaled and accepted, allowing them to be called basenjis and be used to expand the gene pool to those who want to use them, that is the goal yes? I don't think we will get "show" quality b's from the wild. BUT I do think some are very basenji like. Again, my uneducated opinion. I am learning a lot with this thread.

Yes it is, However IMO.. these last ones that have been admitted and I did not vote for them… IMO are not of Basenjis Type and have nothing to offer the breed. I do not think that these are of Basenji Type, but then that is my opinion....

Debra, I know the math but I am going to side with the geneticist who has done genetic studies on this issue and shown that after 5 generations the genetic contribution is not significant.

Sharron, though the eval process is supposed to help gather information for the membership in the end the process was developed to leave the bulk of the decision in the hands of the membership. The evaluators score the dogs on the provided scale, provide a written statement about why they gave the score and if the dog has sufficient positive scores then the board approves them for membership vote. It is still up to the membership to look at all the evidence, weigh it, and determine whether they feel the dogs truly deserve the label basenji.

The eval process really only covers does it look a duck and some of the does it act like a duck, it doesn't at all address does it come from where ducks are known to live.

@DebraDownSouth:

Great post Nemo, but why not, then, fund a big project to bring in as many as we possibly can while there are hopes for getting as many left as possible?

In theory, BCOA could fund some sort of "basenji conservation project" (if deemed so necessary) that a bunch of breeders could participate in. Regardless, it seems to come down to who is going to breed them since BCOA doesn't breed basenjis, individual breeders do. I think there is an opportunity for BCOA - as a steward of the breed - to provide more educational guidance to breeders on how we can best use the Native Stock imports to benefit the breed.

And of course, that goes back to my original question for breeders about the health of the breed and if bringing in more dogs is helpful. Because I really don't know. Yet what rings in my head is the comment to new people posting for the newbie to tell where they got their dog from as most here are related. It really is truer than seems comfortable to me.

Related to Dr Jo's comment on the other thread that prompted this one, I also keep getting the perception that the health of the breed is doomed and the only way we can save it is through importing native stock. I'm not sure where it comes from, maybe because I haven't been around this for very long at all. Is that just a perception because we have a small gene pool? Is it based on health knowledge derived from pedigree knowledge that may not be available in the OFA databases? Is from HA and Fanconi? Given the only information I have access to, which is the OFA database, if you look at dogs born in the last 10 years the number of actual publicly available health records is low for a number of the tests.

804 entries for hips
457 entries for CERF
157 entries for thyroid
3493 entries for Fanconi
89 CHIC dogs

If you look at the overall breed statistics http://www.offa.org/stats.html#breed for basenjis, Hips are 3.4% abnormal (ranked 146 by breed), thyroid is 6.4% abnormal (ranked 29 by breed). Is there something I'm missing? These numbers look pretty good to me. The easiest way to promote the health of the breed is for more breeders to test and share information (good or bad) about the health of their dogs so that more informed breeding decisions can be made in the future. That's nothing new, but why don't more people do it? You don't have to go to Africa to do that.

Clay, I think that the basenji community's openness and proactive approach to health has given some people the impression that it is unhealthy. We are doing testing and we have data to give us an idea of where we stand. In other breeds, they just assume that if there was a problem they would see some signs so they don't test and really they don't know.

@sharronhurlbut:

Pat,
Isn't that what the BCOA board and the eval's are for? We know there are folks breeding village dogs. Those dogs have not been accepted, so aren't basenjis. For those dogs who are evaled and accepted, allowing them to be called basenjis and be used to expand the gene pool to those who want to use them, that is the goal yes? I don't think we will get "show" quality b's from the wild. BUT I do think some are very basenji like. Again, my uneducated opinion. I am learning a lot with this thread.

Basenji "like" is not Basenji Type

Of course, even if a dog is approved by BCOA, it doesn't mean it or the ofsprings will be used. If the major basenji breeders don't like the looks of the "stock" they won't use them and it will be a waste of time and $$ to bring back these dogs who aren't typy enough. Yes?

@sharronhurlbut:

Of course, even if a dog is approved by BCOA, it doesn't mean it or the ofsprings will be used. If the major basenji breeders don't like the looks of the "stock" they won't use them and it will be a waste of time and $$ to bring back these dogs who aren't typy enough. Yes?

Yes and IMO, it is a waste of time to approve dogs to the stud book that have nothing to offer the breed. And I do not see anything in some of the dogs brought back that have anything of value to the breed. Why admit dogs into the stub book that will never be used in a breeding program that has any long term effect on the breed? Or has structure faults that would clearly (again IMO) hurt the breed and not bring anything worth while to the breed.

And regarding the process, I think that many times people go by the fact that there were long time breeders and judges that had evaluated the stock and that the BCOA Board agreed, so people just assume, "well they know what they are doing, even if I am not so sure that this dog or that dog is really Basenji Type"… and vote them in. I agree with Lisa that well staged pictures do not tell the real story. Maybe a video should have been required that showed the dog in a natural state.... As they say, live and learn... but since the window is quickly coming to a close, sort of becomes a mute point.

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