How long was your breeding "mentorship"?

  • First Basenji's

    For the breeders on the forum…

    I am curious about how long you waited/invested between acquiring your first basenji (or other dog) and breeding your first litter. Did you make the decision to breed because a good mentor (or more than one) picked you out and said, "YOU -- YOU will be the one to help me continue my line." Or did you approach a breeder, open about about your intentions to breed? Understandably, everyone has a different learning curve and training paths are multiple and forked... but how long did it take for you to feel "ready" to breed? How did you know?

    I ask not because I'm interested in breeding (though I would someday like to help foster a pregnant mother and pups, when I actually have the setup for it). I am curious because this has come up here, but moreso in my other breed, where I see very young people who openly declare their desire to breed after spending what I feel is barely any time (a week! a year or two?) with their very first dog, whom they are also quick to declare "perfect" despite having little comparative basis. While the initial impulse for some is to just shout them down, truth is that all good breeders have to start somewhere, right?

    So I'm not asking about the nitty-gritty of how one establishes a mentorship, what things a good breeder should learn, etc. Rather, in your personal experience, how did you balance the eagerness to see your first batch of puppies with the training, testing, and time that it takes to be an ethical, knowledgeable breeder?

  • I got my first basenji in 1990 and have not been without a basenji since. I did think about breeding Zest a year or two ago, but decided I really wanted a performance dog instead and decided the current house isn't ideal for puppies, so I opted to spay her instead. She has titles in front and behind her name, had her health tests done and i spoke to a well-known basenji person about using her DC dog as stud. (the stud owner was interested and told me if I decide to use her boy, she wanted a puppy from that mating, so she saw something with that mating too.) Do I feel I know enough to breed? I'm not sure. Perhaps.

  • I am old… began looking for a breed, settled on Rotties, went to shows, thought the top winners were the way to go for advice and help. Dear spirits. I spent 2 yrs looking, litter I was waiting for got parvo, 2nd litter had no bitches. I was advised to get a dog that today I wouldn't come near. Good pedigree 3 generations back, what I'd now recognize as puppymill typical. If only the internet was around. I freaking lucked out, healthy good bone, incredible temperaments, good toplines (bone and topline hard to "fix" so again, luck). She has dogs from her who have been at both Westminster 3x and Eukanuba invitational and more. Massive titles. But it was luck. Thank heavens for the internet where it is easier to learn, find the RIGHT mentors. I bred my last litter almost 14 yrs ago, got more into rescue. But my friend and once co-breeder continues. She is a lot younger than me. 🙂

  • I have been in the breed for over 20 yrs… I am still learning... my mentors are still a big part of my life... my mentor was someone that I purchased a bitch from.. they held my hand back in 1991... I listened and learned... breeding was not my main goal... it was to learn about the breed first... and go on from there. You need to show or do performance.. you need to prove that your Basenjis are of Basenji type and fit the standand.. that is in the show ring or the performance ring... then you can think about breeding. Remember when you breed it is not about placing puppies it is about improving the breed, better than what you are starting with.... so breeders in the long term... breed for themselves... pups that are place are ones that go to the forever homes... saying only want "SHOW homes only" is IMO a pipe dream.. If one comes along great, but in the end it is the home that is important. If it is that important that a pup show, then the breeder should keep it... and maybe place as an adult if not going to be used in a breeding program. For males, easy enough cause you can collect them...

  • When I got my first basenji, I was looking for something that I could try new things with. I didn't think I would want to show but was interested in lure coursing and maybe agility. By the time I was ready to add a second, I was showing my first boy and he had finally taken some interest in lure coursing. Since my breeder was on the opposite coast, I had her as a mentor and local breeders/fanciers as mentors. I have always been lucky to have some really great breeders willing to share what they have learned over the years. I bred my first litter 6 years after brought my first basenji home.

  • First Basenji's

    Interesting responses so far – thanks! It looks like one thing that connects all of your experiences is that you had an idea of group activities, club "sanctioned" events you could participate in. And there are other options for Basenjis other than conformation showing. Well, this is true of all breeds, but I find Basenji people to have a broader interest in performance than some other breeds…

    I do think it's interesting that Debra mentions "Thank heavens for the internet where it is easier to learn, find the RIGHT mentors." This is absolutely true -- I would never have counted on breed-specific forums when I first got my Shiba. Now, these are daily parts of my life. But the internet (and Craigslist, etc.) also enables people to get virtually any breed they've ever wanted to acquire, without necessarily having the whole apparatus of breed mentors and event sponsors in tow. Yes, yes, I know mail-order catalog pups were around back in the day too... but I insist that the speed at which "rare" (or less common) breed whims can now be indulged is different.

    I just find it shocking that there are so many people (moreso in my other breed) who really think they're ready to breed because their first puppy from parents they've never met is totally "perfect" -- based on what they've seen online. The internet puppy purchasing experience can really isolate owners from their breed communities, even as it connects them!

  • True Curlytails…. When I got into the breed there was no internet, the telephone (landline with a cord! no cell phones) was the only means of instant communication. And you could not carry on a conversation with more then one at a time....

  • It seems we go along with the flow on this one - got our first Basenji in 1991, showed him but discovered he didn't want to show much, plus he had some other issues… so we got a girl from a wonderful and well-known breeder - showed her. Of course, that wasn't enough, we wanted a tri. Wanted a girl, but it seemed there were none available that year close to us, so we got a boy. Then we discovered that one of our favorite breeders had one tri girl whose placement had fallen through. I went to see her and fell in love. She turned out to be the first Champion for us. In 1999, 8 years after our first Basenji, we finally had a litter. That litter produced our boy Tex, now almost 14, and still wonderful, albeit nearly blind and mostly deaf...


  • It seems that 1990 and 1991 were good years. I got my first show Basenji in 1991 also. 🙂

    The breeder that I got my foundation bitch from lived in another state and wasn't interested in continued contact after I bought the dog. I didn't know anyone else who even owned Basenjis. (This was before internet.) Only one couple I met at dog shows took the time to even speak to me when I first started showing. They gave me tips on handling and grooming but they did not serve as mentor. I did not have a mentor for my first litter but it turned out well; five puppies of which 3 became conformation champions and 1 became a field champion. My mentor came about later. We disagreed on many things over the years but I learned a lot from her. Now it's my turn to be a mentor. I didn't really know what I was doing early on but I really enjoy it now.

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