Working Dog Basenji Pups Waiting list

I agree…there are a few basenji hunters out there but this number is incredibly small. I think if the American small game hunters knew a little more about what the Basenji could do then their would be an interest. Now that I am in GA, I have met a lot of squirrel, rabbit, and other small game hunters who have a interest in the basenji and it is really a matter of letting them see the dog in action. Axel tracked down a wounded deer last year after it had been lost for several hours. It was about 1/2 mile away and the trail was getting cold, but he nailed it in minutes. The hunter was very skeptical when he saw axel but was a believer afterwards.

I have fielded my B's with other normal hunting dogs and generally speaking, the B's last longer and are more cunning. The drawback is they often will not retrieve and getting the game from them if they catch it can be a chore. Axel had a habit of trying to ingest as much as possible before I caught him. The retrieval trait has been engineered through breeding and is not really all that natural, IMO, to semi wild or wild dogs. I'm not sure if it is a good thing or not to breed into the basenji but is also a helpful trait in training for other forms of work.

I do want to clarify things a bit about my choosing B from show stock. When I first got into the breed not all that long ago, I wrongly believed that the basenji was still used for hunting in the US because the subject of the small hunting dog from Africa was so prevalent on so much material I read. Once I started to investigate more, I found it was actually the opposite. Most people I contacted about hunting basenjis had no interest in talking to me about it and a couple were openly hostile. I did meet one breeder, Terri Gavaletz from Bushbabies Basenjis who mentored me quite a bit in the breed. She had bred for hunting traits for hunting dogs that were actually fielded in California over the years. They were few but she did it. She knew exactly what I wanted and helped me find it in Axel, my first B. Axel was amazing and taught me a lot about the breed. Terri also led me to the next B huntress I fielded from the lines of Linda Pence. Terri said there were some things she liked about Linda's dogs that would help me with my efforts. That seems to work out well to because Axel and Ru produced Phoenix who is better, by far, than both of her parents. She has the best nose I have ever seen for cold scent and if she has three tone missile lock on a critter it is almost impossible to get her off of it. I often have to find her at home after a hunt because I lose her to the critter...that is quite frightening. The good news is that she always comes home and she is tough as nails. The next dog in line was Kaden from Susan Stuart...Kaden is out of Carrie Jones' Conan and Susan's Phoenix. Again, I was directed to the line because of some traits that I was told might work very well for our project and Kaden was far above our expectations. So, I think we can still get the traits from Basenjis in the US, perhaps not as much as could be possible, but some, none the less.

I have since met some great people in the B world and hope to work with some of their dogs in the future. Dr. Jo's work is really exciting to me and I am anxiously hoping for an opportunity to test some of her dogs one day.

I have attached a flicker link for any who might be interested in Kaden and Phoenix. There are photos of them working, training, and in the field. Feel free to browse the other thousands of photos on our Flicker page as well. Lot of working dog shots with other breeds.

Kaden and Phoenix Flicker Page

Thank you!

Kaden had his thyroid, patellar, and hips done for the registry. CERF is scheduled for Monday for both.

Real quick while I am on break, hopes this makes sense I am typing in a hurry.

Voodoo - I have only had one 100% domestic stock basenji since I have been in the breed; all of my other basenjis have been in excess of 30% New African and as high as 65% New African. My guys do not just chase furry critters around just for fun, they are dead serious and they trail, stalk, work in tandem and take down; I find their natural instincts to be quite intact.

As for the hunters amongst show dogs - that was a direct statement to Jeff who found two good hunting dogs from which to create a third even greater hunter - out of show stock. If he can find such wonderful hunters within the domestic population, I am certain anyone who has the desire and the ability to develop that side of their dog can also find great hunting dogs.

eeeefarms - my statement "I have personally found the breed to be whatever we want to make it good or bad." seems to be misunderstood.

I feel the basenji breed is truly an all around and very versatile breed of dog. If we want our basenji to be a hunter and we have the necessary skills and the desires, I find the breed to have the ability to be trained to be a hunter or agility dog, therapy dog, obedience dog, coursing dog, racing dog, show dog, yadda, yadda.

They are the perfect size and shape and have supreme intelligence and tremendous natural, and often times untapped instincts, all they need is a guiding and shaping hand to make them all that we want them to be. I do not feel that specific lines of basenjis needs to be created to corner a market on any certain thing; I feel each and every basenji already has what it takes. That is what I meant by the breed is whatever we want to make it.

If this is jumbled or makes little sense, let me know and I will clarify further when I have time, later tonight or perhaps tomorrow.


eeeefarms - my statement "I have personally found the breed to be whatever we want to make it good or bad." seems to be misunderstood.

No, I didn't misunderstand. And obviously we have not come so far that the original dog doesn't shine through. But experience with other breeds would suggest that vigilance is required so that we don't lose what we have. The Basenji is an ancient breed, but a relatively "new" one to the influence of conformation showing and the selection that entails. I hope you are right, and that we haven't lost anything…...but I wouldn't want to bet money on it.


"In my opinion, I think we need to maintain hunting traits in the US dogs by recognizing those traits and breeding for them. If we do not, the American Basenji will NEVER be a hunting dog and should not be touted as one.

I agree wholeheartedly. The native hunting instincts are still present to some degree in our breed today- but who's to say they won't someday be lost if we continue to breed without any sort of emphasis or attention paid to those instincts?

Lure coursing is a fine activity; demonstrates prey drive, sure…..but at the end of the day it's a dog chasing plastic bags around a field. When I first began apprenticing with the hunting dog trainer I currently work for, this was one of the things he discussed with me in detail. The difference between a proven hunting dog's abilities on wild quarry....and a dog who can play a game in a controlled environment with a set of rules to follow. Almost any dog can play a game; but only a dog with the right level of genetic ability, drive & instinct can learn to hunt wild game WELL enough to consistently put meat on the table. A lot of things he said opened my eyes. Here we have a breed based on a handful of native dogs plucked from the bush a century ago, and since then maybe 10 people have made any real attempt to hunt with their dogs. It's a miracle the instinct hasn't been completely lost as it is.

We say the dog is a hunting hound based on its history....we all see indications that our dogs harbor their native instincts to some degree.....we enjoy the unique traits that make our breed what it why isn't anyone working to PROVE that hunting ability and TEST those instincts so as to preserve them & improve future generations? Without proving ability AND working to preserve it, our breed is going to be nothing more than a backyard novelty with an interesting backstory. Realizing all of this made me realize that there is room for improvement. If the most anybody is doing with the Basenji to prove hunting ability is letting them loose on trash bags, how can we really say this is a hunting dog?

I don't think it's an issue of whether there will be "demand for hunting Basenjis"....please know I'm not talking about wanting to create a bench/field bloodline split like many sporting breeds have, where the "field bred" bloodlines are too hot & driven for the average pet home thereby making them undesirable for anyone but a hardcore hunter. IMO this would be a detriment to the breed. I am only saying there should be more of an effort to acknowledge the breed's potential and ability as a hunter, highlighting and preserving those traits. If a handful of us who enjoy hunting AND enjoy Basenjis get involved doing this, and we're able prove that these little dogs do a good job, then gradually there will be more of a demand. Right now this breed is not even on the radar in the hunting community and even if it were, there are too many unknowns for most people to feel confident messing with it. But all it takes is a few people to pioneer the effort- Jeff has a ton of training and hunting experience; if he can't figure out the best approach to use for hunt training Basenjis, nobody can. Someone like myself, I may not have anywhere near the level of experience he has but I do have all the resources I need right in my backyard- from the equipment to the fields to the pro-trainer-for-a-boss. With a little guidance from Jeff on how to approach the differences in Basenji temperament vs. a traditional bird dog, I am sure I could give it a darn good shot. And if a relative novice like me was successful, it might inspire someone else who doesn't have a ton of experience to go ahead and take on the challenge. And so on & so forth...the more people do it, the more information is shared, the easier it is for people to feel confident doing it themselves.

I've got to run so I'll finish this up with a picture of Tana, my puppymill rescue, flash-pointing a planted (pen raised) quail the very first time she'd ever been in a field about 2 years ago. Never been on birds, never been hunted, only been off-leash a few times but never in a wildlife-abundant place....and yet she put her nose in the wind, quartered, found the scent, flash pointed & held for about 20 seconds, then pounced and flushed the quail 🙂 If I had the $500 for the Astro GPS collar (not getting into the Ecollar thing, but I'd need it to locate her since she's smaller than a popcorn fart at 15 lbs, lol) I would totally take her hunting. Not sure if she could retrieve a pheasant to hand but I bet she'd have fun trying.

Woofless, I just have to say, I love your style! That was a nice piece of writing, and gets your points across extremely well, in addition to being humourous and a good read. Thank you! 🙂

Some definite good writing Danielle.

Your descripiton of Tana kind of proves one of my points - a puppy mill rescue being able to show such natural talent - tells me a basenjis natural hunting instincts is vastly untapped vs missing altogether.

Question for y'all - what is a true African hunting basenji and how are they utilized by their humans in Africa (not just how they hunt to fend for themselves but how are they used by the natives to put food on the table?)

Seems if folks want to keep the breed true to their roots we would want to know how they hunt in Africa, yes? And then try not to lose that specific quality?

So, what is their main purpose? Are they pointers, retrievers, flushers, drivers or ???

Certainly much of what I have read, heard and seen in pictures and videos makes me think they were mainly used to drive cloven or hoofed game into the hunters nets. Would certainly explain the gourd bells tied to neck or groin.

Assuming this is correct, what would be the best venue to perpetuate this specific trait? Hunting them in the field similarly to a sporting breed (pointing, flushing and retrieving) or would herding be more realistic since driving is like uncontrolled herding? Or is there something else?

If the perpetuation of thier innate skill is the goal, then it seems concerned members of the fancy might want to consider which venue would best maintain it and petition the AKC or equivalent to allow the breed to participate in it. Having the AKC or the like involved would be a good way to get more of the fancy involved as well which would then create more people breeding with these goals in mind.


Question for y'all - what is a true African hunting basenji and how are they utilized by their humans in Africa (not just how they hunt to fend for themselves but how are they used by the natives to put food on the table?)

Seems if folks want to keep the breed true to their roots we would want to know how they hunt in Africa, yes? And then try not to lose that specific quality?

Do we really know how they are hunted? I don't see herding in this dog, driving game maybe, but not herding. Mostly the instinct to chase the prey if visible, and track it if not. Any hunting that utilizes those abilities would probably be a good direction to go. I think the main thrust of the argument is to keep that connection with their roots by using them in something real, not artificial. It does make a difference, IMHO. Any dog can be trained to more or less simulate a behaviour, but talent in the hunting field really can't be faked. That the dogs retain some of this despite not being used for it at this point in time, doesn't mean it won't eventually be bred out if going forward selection is based only on physical appearance.

Hi Danielle,

I agree with you on every level. However, I think the key to the basenji being a hunter in the US and maintaining high end traits is going to have to come from outside the basenji community. I have not been in the B community for very long but I have met a lot of people here. And though most are supportive and like to hear about my hunters, there are maybe 6 of us that I know of that are fielding dogs on game. The basenji world is primarily made up of people that just don't have a interest in hunting themselves and probably never will. Sport like lure is probably as close as we might come and that, as said so well before, is not hunting. A fast dog that likes to chase is only a minor component of hunting. If some of the die hard rabbit, squirrel, or other small game hunters get into a try hunter basenji, the basenji will become an instant hit because it will blow away the competition.

A hunter basenji is very similar to a coyote in ability and IMO, the coyote is the best field hunter on the North American continent. There is no other canid that has been as resilient as the coyote. Their geographical range is larger now than ever before, being in found in some places that never had a record of them before. I was an avid predator hunter for some time and had the opportunity to watch the coyote at work and put myself up against their abilities at the same time. They are amazingly intelligent creatures with an ability to calculate and problem solve all while on the run. I often used my basenjis to help me detect them from a distance. What I saw in the coyote, I see SOMETIMES in the basenji. Very few can match the cold, killing, calculation of this wild canid. However, my guess is that some of the good African stock just might.

A wild hunter has natural selection to determine who survives and thrives. The dumb dogs and those that have lessor abilities do not procreate and die off. It is the key to survival of a species. The wild dogs that survive and thrive are the top dogs in all levels. This is where the skills come from. And yes, perhaps many basenjis have little glimmers of those qualities to this day, but I will bet that none can match the natural selection survivor. This fact is important to keep in mind when one considers true hunting canids.

I have not been to Africa, never run with the B's there, and only know what I have read and seen on film, however, it appears to me that these dogs are left to their own devices more often than not and have a semi-wild life. In the field when hunting, it appears there is no control really, and what is occurring is the human hunters are pre-determining what the dogs will do in a given geographical area and putting up nets in front of them. The bell gourds are not used for control but to determine where the dogs are in relationship to the net so the human hunter can be prepared to move or adjust accordingly. This is really no different than how humans have hunted with dogs for thousands of years. Driving game to the human is simply the first and easiest method to hunt with a dog. The difference between the Af dogs and their Euro and North American counter parts from a historical perspective is the Basenji does not bark and make noise while hunting; thus the need for the bell. This also is a trait that is shared by many wild canid hunters like the wolf, coyote, and jackal) The other thing that separates the basenji from the Euro dogs, (perhaps not the native American dogs of North America), is that the European dogs during their evolution were actively bred for certain qualities and given much succor by their human partners I think to a much larger extent. They were also interbred actively with other types of dogs to increase the potential for certain traits. What this did was water down some of the survival skills while building other specific types of hunting traits and drive; e.g. pointing, flushing, retrieving.

The Basenji, IMO, was a different story and perhaps it is because there was not a lot of other dogs to mix with and the human relationship was more tribal/ hunter-gatherer vs. the Euro counterpart of evolving, modern society. The bottom line, however, appears to be that because of the tribal-hunter/ gatherer type relationship the basenji was left to its own devices historically speaking and though there was human intervention, natural selection occurred to a larger extent than the basenjis euro and American canid cousins. Now this is not a fact and only based on what I am surmising, but I believe the reason why the basenji maintains certain wild qualities above and beyond standard C. familiaris is because it was isolated for so long and left to its own devices and that time frame was not all that long ago when compared to the Euro or American dogs from a historical context. However, it is clearly obvious that times are changing in the natural geographic range of the Basenji and modern human influence including other breeds of dogs has caused the breed to evolve and become more modernized even in Africa. Obviously, not to the extent as here in the US, but evolution is occurring and what was then, may not be the same today.

This brings us to the modern basenji in America. Perhaps, we have maintained the form of the dog is a way that is historically accurate, but we have not maintained the traits or semi-natural selection that made the basenji. That is impossible because we as a modern society do not interact with our dogs like the basenjis of old. Anything we do as far as selective breeding for any purpose cannot maintain semi-wild natural selection. Certainly, breeding for appearance or a specific sport will further water down and ancient genetic traits. I think it is important for anyone reading this to not be misled by what I am doing either. It is equally impossible for me to maintain these traits in total. What I have done, is simply recognize SOME of the glimmers of wildness in the modern basenji and tried to harness them for my own purposes. I feel some of these old, wild traits are what is missing from our modern working dog. Like my ancestors before me, I am recognizing traits and harnessing them to my advantage. In many ways, this may preserve some of the old basenji but it is not preserving the entire dog as it once was. I am not sure what once was even exists anymore. I feel it is very important for all of us to understand that this is what we are all doing. What we have now is a shadow of what once was. It is a facsimile and probably not an all together accurate one.

I truly wished that I lived at the time the first basenjis were discovered. I am sure they were marvelous.


I have heard this year from a breeder in Alberta how her two 'show quality' stock pulled down a deer and killed it. I entertain the fact that they were bred for a purpose…..since they have not been crossed to do what 'we' as humans want them to do they still have that natural instinct and predatory drive. My male would make a fantastic hunter.....he has already almost got that darn squirrel a couple of times. Since their instinct has not been bred out of them they are all going to be instinctual hunters.

My two girls work together in the yard after squirrels, it is most interesting to watch them as they circle in on the critter. C-Me caught a squirrel at 5 months, the two together, while not fully catching one, has had the tails in mouth and brought me the fur…. :eek:

I no longer breed as I'm too old for it but I've always endeavoured to keep the original type together with it's hunting instincts, intelligence and characteristics. It became extremely difficult towards the end because the majority of the breed in this country had changed so much and now has become more like 'just another dog' (to paraphrase).

I'm sorry if I offend the UK members of this forum but I speak from my experience.

Hi Patty,

That is quite interesting and I would love for you to elaborate on what you observed, e.g., traits, skills, instincts, etc. Also, what did you do to maintain what you had and what did the early dogs have that today's dogs do not? When did you start with the basenji and where did you get yours initially? Sorry for so many questions and feel free to send me a private email if you prefer.


I hate to point out the obvious, but most dogs will chase a squirrel…..and catch it if they can. Bringing down a deer, OTOH, is a lot more of an accomplishment, albeit a dangerous one. Deer are hardly defenseless.....unless it was a fawn.....and in many jurisdictions it is illegal for dogs to chase them. In some places, an offense punishable by death for the dog, if caught by authorities. One of the reasons hunters employ e-collars, BTW.

I hope that Basenjis are retaining their hunting instincts and abilities, but in order for those qualities to be preserved I think it is imperative to breed for them. Selection on the basis of conformation only will almost certainly dilute the hunting abilities over time.

Well, lucky I don't have deer running in our back yard… And IMO, form follows function... they have to have proper conformation to last in the field regardless of what they are doing. While they might hold up for a bit, poor conformation will prove out in the end in the long term.

But they are being bred to lure course as well as conformation. Like someone said it may only be at the end of the day a plastic bag on a string but it also shows off the agility and form of the dog. If they can't perform during a lure course then I would think that they would perform poorly in a conformation ring as well. It would mean that they do not have the stamina in the field as well as the agility of the breed to make the quick turns and follow prey. Sure some may be better hunters than others but do we want as a breed to selectively breed for this which in the end may result in a purebred basenji that does not have the 'type' of a conformation basenji. How far do we want to go to 'create a line' of hunting B's and differentiate from type and what will this hunting line be like for temperment? I would think that we would be breeding for a certain type of mindset in these basenji's. Very independant, smart and possibly revert back to agressiveness, which from what I have heard has come a long way in this breed.

This is an interesting question…...I think it boils down to "do we really want the Basenji that was shaped over thousands of years of hunting with its owners in Africa, or do we want a prettier dog that conforms to what we think it should look and act like?" Already Basenjis do not look like the original imports. If you study old pictures, I think it is clear the foundation dogs would not win in today's show ring. What we have now is more pleasing to the eye, but could these dogs make it in the real world of Africa? Those familiar with the Russian fox study will know that emphasizing one trait (in that case, friendly temperament) can drastically change another (physical that case, coat colour).

I am not going to argue that today's dogs are not athletic, but that in itself does not equate to hunting ability. Also, you are naive if you think the breed can't eventually become less of an athlete if the criteria for breeding is determined by what is put up in the ring.......look at GSDs for an extreme example. If retaining hunting instinct is important to us, then the dogs need to be hunted. I don't expect it will ever happen, but the ideal for all breeds of dogs would be to have something like the equine warmblood testing they do in Europe. Horses that can't perform well are not acceptable for breeding. No matter how pretty they might be.

As to temperament in the Basenji, as I mentioned, my personal observation over forty years (albeit anecdotal) is the opposite of what has been reported. Think about it. To work cooperatively with humans in Africa and to share their homes, a dog would have to be decently social. I am sure a snarky, disagreeable dog would find himself in the soup pot in short order unless he was an absolutely marvelous hunter they couldn't do without! 🙂 Of course, maybe the Africans were smart enough to keep their really wonderful dogs to themselves, and pawn the less stellar specimens off on the visiting collectors. Who knows? Maybe our foundation stock were all rejects. :eek:

edited to remove duplicate post

But they are being bred to lure course as well as conformation. Like someone said it may only be at the end of the day a plastic bag on a string but it also shows off the agility and form of the dog. If they can't perform during a lure course then I would think that they would perform poorly in a conformation ring as well. It would mean that they do not have the stamina in the field as well as the agility of the breed to make the quick turns and follow prey. Sure some may be better hunters than others but do we want as a breed to selectively breed for this which in the end may result in a purebred basenji that does not have the 'type' of a conformation basenji. How far do we want to go to 'create a line' of hunting B's and differentiate from type and what will this hunting line be like for temperment? I would think that we would be breeding for a certain type of mindset in these basenji's. Very independant, smart and possibly revert back to agressiveness, which from what I have heard has come a long way in this breed.

Those questions are great and I think it is important that we understand that we have already created a different basenji for the show ring and lure already. It is impossible to maintain what once came from Africa so long ago in our modern society. Our requirements for dogs changes the traits of the dogs. We did this and continue to do this with all successive breeding in a modern society.

As far as show confirmation goes, who is to say that what we have here today was the original confirmation? Was their a real original "confirmation" or is it possible we made one? Again, I am new to the breed comparatively speaking and though my first dogs were in the show ring, I did not pay much attention to it…probably should have. My natural inclination is to think that we engineered the modern basenji to a certain extent and that engineering is continuing to this day.My reasoning for this hypothesis is the precedent that is in the AKC today. Many of the original dogs that had been bred for a purpose so long ago are no longer fulfilling that role and now are primarily show dogs and companions and their bodies have changed. There are distinct lines drawn between most working lines and show lines. Some dogs that had a purpose over 100 years ago can no longer fulfill the original role in any way, shape or form.

That being said, I do not think that we are creating a hunting Basenji, if anything, we have been destroying it for years. As was mentioned before, all dogs hunt, all dogs kill, all dogs track, all dogs detect things with their nose, but a true hunter, especially along the lines of what I think the basenji was at one time, does not exist at the true semi-wild hunter level with the modern basenji. It is impossible at this stage in our evolution as a fancy. I know these dogs have a wilder side than the average C. familiaris, but it is fading and one day will be gone altogether.

The question about reverting back to aggressiveness is the most important of all because aggressiveness is not necessarily a hunting trait; especially from the context that the average person may construe it. A true hunter will have traits and drive that can be a problem for a pet owner. In my world we describe them in two ways:

Prey drive, or the drive to chase, catch, and retain what is chased. The retention part of this is huge because if the dog does not maintain the quarry, it's drive may actually not be all that high. This retention can be problematic for some pet owners because the dog becomes fixated on a "thing" and won't let it out of it's mind. This drive is what makes the difference between making the kill or not. And it is important to understand that the average wild canid is unsuccessful on the vast majority of hunts…sometimes 90% unsuccessful. If the dog gives's genes will not be passed on.

Hunt Drive Is often mistaken for prey drive but it is a little different, this is the drive to find a particular thing, once the thing is detected through the use for the nose. The same tenacity is me sure but the context is different. Retrieval was engineered through the use of hunt drive.

Aggression with basenjis inherently has not been related to hunting traits, IMO, so much as the basenji not being allowed to use its skills in the way that it wants to, number one. The breed is very high energy and smart. These dogs need more mental stimulation than the average dog. If they cannot get it in a way that suits them, certain neurosis can occur. Aggression is a big side effect. However, we see this every day in similarly intelligent, high energy breeds…in my world we call them "high caliber breeds".

From a training perspective, if the dogs are allowed to rule the house, they also have a tendency to be more aggressive. If nobody takes charge but the basenji, invariably, the basenji will make wrong choices. All dogs are this way, IMO.

All that being said, a hardcore hunting basenji is not for the average family because the dog will be inheritly more athletic, more intelligent, and more cunning. They will also not forget what it is they want and do just about anything to get it. I know these are B traits already and some of you are going "duh"...but, a true hunting basenji is these basenji traits we all know and love multiplied by a factor of ten. It is not so much that they will be more aggressive, but they will simply get into far more trouble if they cannot do what their DNA is screaming at them to do. This is no different than any other breed of hunting or true working dog.

To be honest with you, I think the reason we do not have these traits as much as perhaps we used to is because the average dog owner could not manage them and we slowly breed them away.or to a watered down state.


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