I'm in the process of meeting several breeders so I can hopefully bring home a cute little female basenji this winter. So I've got lots of questions but this one stands out for me given what I've read on the forum so far.
Two of the three breeders I've talked two are using sires (one is using a puppy from their own kennel, the other is using another breeder's male) that are few months shy of a year old. My understanding is that you can't officially do all of the health testing (e.g. hips) when they are that young. So do you look off of their pedigrees to try and make a judgement from that in this instance? Give my lack of experience in this area, is this commonplace or atypical? Why breed off of such a young dog? I'm meeting one of the breeders this Thursday so I plan to ask her some questions around this. But I'd like to get some other impressions on this so I can make the best informed decision.
First, there are breeders out there that many of us would consider "pure of profit" breeders… they might show sometimes... but they really do not finish many dogs, nor do the really health test...
There is really no good reason to use a dog that young. As you correctly assumed, to young for Hips to be done (you can get prelims, but they would also be on the OFA site) and it is not common place, at least not usually... a breeder "might" have a really good reason.... and "if" the hips are at least prelim'ed (and elbows too), Fanconi test done, Thyroid, current eye exam... the next thing I would look at is how old are the Sire and Dam, Grand sire/Grand dam of that dog. If they have good age on them, at least you have a starting point for health. What you find many times is that the dog being used is 1yr or younger, Sire and Dam of that dog are 2 or 3yrs old, the grand sire/dam of that dog is 4 or 5yrs old. This doesn't give you a very good idea of a long health life of that particular pedigree.... IMO.... and IMO it is not worth it to rely on their pedigree for health...
And you can take that kennel name and search OFA site for that breeders dogs.... but remember, just because they have test a "couple" you need to know how many pups they are producing over all... and then how many are they testing.