When to get another Basenji

  • Hello all! I am so glad I found this forum. After 6 years with my Basenji, you'd figure I would have already, but better late than never!

    Here's a question that's been gnawing at me for quite some time: When do I get my next Basenji? Any advice, personal anecdotes, or experience-sharing is more than welcome!

    A bit of background (and the reasons as to why this is a tough question):

    We have Penny, a 6 year old spayed Basenji, and Daisy, a 5 year old Miniature Australian Shepherd. We have Emma, a 12 year old FIV-positive cat. (And a lizard and a snake, but they don't really get out "in the mix".)

    My husband and I recently graduated from law school. We're planning on starting a family within the next two years. At that point, I'll be a stay at home mom, and in the future, my work schedule will be very flexible.

    We've begun to confront a few realities: Daisy and Penny won't be here forever, and they are very attached to each other. My biggest concern is that when one of them finally crosses the Bridge, the other will be left without canine companionship. I'd like to put a "patch" in place, and I certainly want another Basenji. I'll never live my life without at least one in it. I'm hooked, and Mini Aussies SHED; can't do another, as much as I love my little one.

    1. Penny is not fond of other Basenjis. Male or female. She's not terribly dominant, but she seems to recognize other Basenjis when she sees them. Other dogs… well, she's selective and does NOT do high energy introductions. (And while she does better with male dogs in general, they are STRANGELY attracted to her. She gets an unbelievable amount of "male attention" for being a spayed dog.)

    2. Penny is not fond of puppy antics; my parents' new Lagotto Romagnolo receives snarls and corrections from her every 15 minutes on average. Will that only get worse as she ages? In other words, is it better to get it out of the way and get her used to a new dog sooner rather than when she's older?

    3. Babies and basenjis... when is the timing best?

    4. Third dog dynamics. I only have two hands, you know. 😉

    5. How close to a perfect personality match will I be able to get with a puppy; can breeders tell this? Penny is FANTASTIC. She loves cats, plays nicely with ferrets, never "bolts", has decent recall considering, doesn't chew on personal items (and never has, even as a pup), and is happy to laze around all day. (She's crated during the day for her safety.) She's completely potty trained. She's friendly with strangers (not as much fast-moving kids, she prefers to keep her distance). Can she teach a puppy her ways?

    I'm worried enough about introducing Penny to a future baby (let's not even get into the Mini Aussie here... she HERDS children... save me), and a new puppy seems like a lot to think about. But it's going to happen at some point, and if Penny is able to share wisdom and attributes, I want to consider that when thinking about timing.

    Thanks in advance! Looking forward to getting to know everyone!


  • Hi Marie and welcome to the forum. You pose some difficult questions, and I am sure you will get lots of different answers. I posted a thread about my experiences adding a puppy when my female spayed Basenji was seven years old. You might find that story interesting, although it is mostly photos.


    Lady accepted Tamu and treated her as her own puppy, perhaps because Tamu was very young. I am not sure how it would have gone if Tamu had been older. Young pups seem to have an immunity, but once they reach a certain age they are more likely to be treated as adult dogs. Lady normally did not like females!

    Basenjis and children. I think they do better if they have been exposed to children early on. Lady was good with kids, Tamu was also O.K. but maybe not quite as tolerant. My first Basenji, Val, just loved kids but I believe her breeder had young children. My current boy is insecure with kids, as he has little experience with them. So much depends on their early exposure.

    Getting a good match from a breeder is a subject better answered by someone with more experience. We have quite a few breeders on this forum, so hopefully one of them will chime in here.

  • Thank you for the link! That does give me hope, as Penny seems to have quite a lot of maternal instinct and always has.

    When I brought her home at 16 weeks, I had four foster kittens (4 weeks old and bottle fed at the time) that Penny adored helping me take care of. She was very gentle, always fussing over them. She was only a year and a half old when Daisy joined our family, but thinking back, she didn't mind the new addition at all; they were inseparable from the start. That's also when she used to get along with every dog she ever met, though. As she's aged, her enjoyment of their presence has lessened significantly. She'd rather it just be her and Daisy, but she does tolerate other dogs still.

    I guess my logic in puppy v. adult would be that a puppy would adapt more easily to any children that are in our lives at the time, and Penny might adjust better to a puppy. The first Basenji she ever met was an adult female who really spoiled things. Trixie was VERY unhappy with Penny being anywhere near her and most certainly let us know, and ever since, Penny has been on the warpath against other Basenjis. I tried to introduce her to a male after things with a few other females went poorly. That ended with a quick nip in his face that sent him shrieking and tail-drooping behind his mama's legs. His mama looked at me like my sweet Basenji was the devil and I felt awful. We haven't socialized with other Basenjis since.

    I would absolutely love it if a breeder or two could chime in on puppy personality. I'd be very interested to know how much it's possible to tell about personality when they're puppies. I love my Penny's antics. She has all the common Basenji quirks, but she's never caused any of the "horror stories", and I'm grateful for that. 🙂

  • I always thought that it was so important to watch a litter of puppies and pick the one who I think fits my personal needs. A nice sweet laid back puppy who is perfect in every way. Remember though, you see these pups for an hour or so and the breeder has been with them for 8-10+wks!! I've always had the breeder choose my Bs for me. I tell him what I'm looking for and twice he's placed me with the perfect dog. I can't say how he does it but he's been raising puppies and placing puppies for so long he just knows who will be the right fit. I plan to add another pup this season (or next if the right one doesn't come my way) and I have no doubt he will be the right one for me and Elliot.

    I completely agree with eeeefarm about kids. My first B was around kids all the time and was amazing with them. Little kids in the neighborhood would run up to him and hug him and he just took it like a champ. Elliot has not been around many kids and is a little fearful but never aggressive. He would prefer they let him sniff first and pet later

    SO, my advice in a nutshell is to find a breeder you love/trust and let them choose the puppy for you! You will need the right puppy who will know or quickly learn that when your girl says "BACK OFF!" it's time to back off. A lot of people highly recommend adding a puppy of a different gender for the best chance of success. Your breeder will know which is the bossy in your face puppy and which one goes with the flow and adapts, etc.

    Good luck! 🙂

  • Not a breeder but…...they say that around 5 weeks is when they can start determining what the personality is.; from what I've been told. There might be some 'exceptions' that don't fit the rule, but it shouldn't matter what the personality is IF the breeder has raised them around kids from an early age.....

    Example: my first dog Beo was picked for me because the breeder didn't think he would do well around kids, because of his personality, (and I'm not around kids ever). However, I do run into strange kids from time to time and have found that despite his 'personality' Beo is excellent around kids.....super gentle. Extra gentle in fact. He is very intuitive about being gentle around kids.

    From what I've read and heard (nature vs. nurture debate)....it's more about early socialization rather than specific personality/genetics, though those are influencing factors as well, when it comes to factors like kids and small animals ..... though getting a puppy weaned at the appropriate age probably doesn't hurt their chance of not having behavior or bite inhibition issues. I've heard quite a few horror stories about mean tempered basenjis, and it all lead back to poor socialization and the 'breeder' weaning the puppies at 6 weeks or younger.

  • We got Tamu at seven weeks, which is early, but Lady taught her well, and she had no behaviour problems relating to early separation. I do think it is helpful with a young pup if there are other dogs available to guide them. With Lady, we had no other dogs at home when she arrived, but she was older…...12 weeks......and well socialized at her breeder's home.

    From the reading I've done, and from observation, I think genetics are extremely important. I raised three foals from my mare, all by different stallions, all handled the same, and they were very different animals to train. One was very obliging and honest, one was reactive and flighty, and one was far less sensitive, verging on stubborn. I've seen the same thing with dogs raised in identical conditions. And of course littermates may have quite different genetic makeup.

    You might want to try testing the pups, if that is an option with your breeder.


  • I'm sorry your girl has issues with other basenjis, we have a weekly meet up in Tampa, and I know of another one in the Palm Beach area. All our basenjis are friendly and very social and do well with new basenjis, even cranky ones (my newest adoptee is a bi**h). Three dogs is actually a good number. Your dogs are still young and likely will be more tolerant of a puppy now, than if you wait till they are old and cranky. And puppies do have "puppy license" for about 6 months when he adults are very tolerant.

    As for kids, no personal experience but several friends have had to work through issues when their baby became a toddler and was moving quickly, grabbing, etc. Their sweetest dog had to resort to growling and even snapping and nipping the 'aggressive' toddler, one friend even wanted to rehome one of her dogs…fortunately they kept him and a year later things are much better. Similar situation with another friend right now as their baby is crawling and grabbing, it is her most easygoing dog who feels threatened by this wild baby. A dear friend raised 2 boys with basenjis.

    You can't always predict how they will react, you just have to be calm and ready to do a lot of separation for many months till the human kid is able to learn how to relate to the dog. You protect each from the other for awhile!

    I once worked with a rescue person who wouldn't let a dog go to either a lawyer (they worked for lawyers and felt they were 'too busy' and didn't have time for dogs) or a young couple who will be starting a family (many basenjis end up in rescue due to this rough adjustment period when the baby is between 6 months and 2-3 years) so you would be a double strike out for her, haha.

    It's good that you are looking at all eventualities, but it is possible to overthink this issue. Some dogs are more jealous of a baby than others, some more afraid, and hard to know in advance. Be prepared for at least one stressful year (as if having a new baby isn't stressful enough!). Good socialization and ongoing 'training' keep the dogs aware that you are the leader, basenjis who think they are the boss are much harder to manage, and schedule plenty of dog time after the baby comes.

    Good luck to you! If you are in the Tampa area and want to give meet and greet another chance, just let me know.

  • We have two litter mates and faced a similar struggle. They had never been apart and we did not want them to have to face being alone. We got a puppy when they were close to 7 and it worked out pretty well. Having the younger puppy made them act younger too and they played much more than before. No kids though.

  • Good breeders will always be the ones to pick the puppy…. as we have raised those pups and know their temperaments. We are in usually a better position to place the pup in the right situation.

  • Wow, you have a lot of changes going on in your life… starting a new career, planning a baby in a couple, and a dog who has already pretty much let you know she is not into puppies and another who doesn't care for her own breed. It doesn't sound like either of them really need another dog in the mix, even if you think they will 6 or 7 years from now. So honestly, why do it? Take the next couple of years to work, have a baby, get it up past the toddler age. The truth is, babies take up massive time so you will have a lot less to spend with the 2 you have, much less if if add in a third that requires you to keep 2 of them separated.

    And breeders and owners here will tell you the truth-- any time you add a second basenji, especially same sex but sometimes even opposite, you risk it "working til it doesn't" and having to run a house with 2 packs or rehoming one. Once you have a child that is past the uber intense/mommy fatigue stage, you should have some energy to reconsider adding a new one. The amount of people who "have" to get rid of a dog because they have a baby and realize they no longer have enough time/energy for a dog is fairly overwhelming to folks in rescue. If it was a situation where you could be sure both dogs would just LOVE the new one, it might be different. But you already have known issues and known major changes ahead.

    If you are absolutely determined to try, why not contact Pam Hamilton with Camp Basenji and see about fostering a young dog and see how they adjust to an addition. It might give you an idea what they really need as well as an idea of how much more energy/time it requires and if it is something you really want to do. flbasenji@earthlink.net

  • Wow! Somehow, I never got emails letting me know I had responses to this thread and just assumed there weren't any. But now that I'm back in the loop, I did want to thank everyone for their feedback and provide some thoughts of my own.

    That makes me laugh about the rescue person who wouldn't let young families or lawyers adopt her dogs. 😃 I can understand her rationale from both perspectives. It's a compelling argument on her part about lawyers, but not all lawyers are the same, of course. I know a lot of extremely busy lawyers in large firms who struggle to hit their billable hour requirement each month. They're machines instead of people, and I wouldn't even let them dogsit my babies for fear of neglect. That's not my situation, fortunately. The young family part will be, but I've been thinking really carefully on how I'll balance this when the time comes. My dogs are my first children, and I would hire as many trainers as needed and try as many alternatives as I could before I would give them up. Unfortunately, I don't think a lot of people have that mindset about their dogs. 😞

    I would absolutely be open to the idea of having the breeder choose a puppy for us based on their experience and prediction as to personality. All basenjis are gorgeous to me, and as long as the markings aren't completely off-base and I can get a tightly-curled tail (I've seen that the Avongaras can be lacking in this area, and I need a cinnamon bun in my life), personality is the most important thing. I wouldn't nitpick it to death. I'll have to decide on a breeder at some point, and I'd love one who's relatively local so I could visit. The man I got Penny from had great pet Basenjis that he bred… I'd like to go with a more reputable breeder this time around. At the very least, he tested for Fanconi. I can be grateful for that, as all is well so far and I more than likely dodged a bullet when I ended up with such a fantastic dog. My plan would be to decide and get on a waiting list far enough in advance that if there were a couple litters that just didn't produce what my family and I were looking for, we wouldn't be waiting forever.

    In short, what I'm banking on is that the right pup with the right personality will fit in pretty flawlessly. I know what sets my basenji off in other dogs, and I'm hopeful that I could find one that would suit her and suit our home. Daisy certainly worked out well for her, and I'd love to have that same success again. I've done three puppies in my lifetime, and all of them have grown up to be well-adjusted adults. I know what it takes, and I know it's hard work. I would never go the route of having an infant and a puppy at the same time (isn't THAT actually the definition of insanity?? 😉 ), but I am still trying to shoot somewhere in the next 3-4 year range so my two aren't past ten and too old to handle a puppy.

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