The Basenji Coloring Vs Personality?

I've seen people write comments about their basenjis, such as "that's what tri's will do!", or "typical behavior for a tri!", or "Wow! Black and whites are…. ( I think such a handful?)"... which made me start to wonder:

Do you think that your basenji's personality is influenced by his coloring? Do you think that a tri has certain traits, versus a red and white, versus a brindle, versus a black and white?

I'm curious what everyone thinks! 🙂

It is the funniest thing you mentioned this because I too have seen those posts and think the same thing- I am getting my puppy in a few weeks and part of me was thinking- if I get a tri am I in for it?? Lol, great to know Im not the only one wondering

yeah… my only experience is my little girl (a naughty, naughty girl, who happens to be a tri) and i wonder, if i had found this site first, would i have been too scared to bring her home???

tlish- I am scared to bring home a tri if that is what I end up with!! I asked my breeder her thoughts on the "tri" reputation and she assured me that the tri's in her breeding program are just as naughty as any other…lol

My answer is probably pretty boring… I've only ever owned a male red & white & two brindle girls. My two girls are as different as night and day. They are within 2 weeks of age, came from different breeders (one BYB & one a good breeder). Lola has lived with me since she was a puppy & I got Callie as a 15 month old.
Lola is dark brindle, lively, joyful, happy to be alive every second of every day & has no compunctions about hiding it. She greets many days with a baroo, just to say "I'M SO HAPPY TO WAKE UP AGAIN!", she greets me with baroos when I come home, and she greets friends with baroos. She is reserved & hesitant with strangers, but quickly warms up to friends, and never forgets a friend. All friends are greeted enthusiastically. She is very playful, and is always trying to instigate the cat or Callie into playing with her. She is more likely to play with other dogs at the dog park, but she doesn't give the humans much attention. I would describe her as having ADD... she doesn't seem to have the typical basenji "selective hearing"... its more than she's so excited about life in general that she forgets I even exist. Her little head gets very overwhelmed & overstimulated, and she sometimes can't focus on me because she's so excited about just being. Lola does not like to be away from me for long, so I can trust her a little more off leash (she will not walk by my side or anything mind you, she will just run where she wishes but come most of the time when I call her. So she's only off leash in very big open spaces far away from traffic. But I don't worry about her finding a scent trail & dissappearing or getting lost). She doesn't particularly care about being pet, doesn't love being held, but loves cuddling under the covers. She sometimes takes a little longer to catch on to a new trick, but she is more obedient about performing tricks after she learns them. She runs straight to her crate when I ask her to, and she is a very good crate dog. She settles down without any fuss.
Callie is light brindle, and she is super laid back. She would love nothing more than sleeping & eating 99% of the time. She is, like me, not a morning person. Whereas Lola jumps out of bed as soon as we wake up, Callie & I will lay in bed yawning, stretching & just trying to figure out how the hell we're going to get up the energy to get out of bed. Callie is very even keeled. She doesn't care if you pick her up, flip her upside down, toss her around, whatever. She just takes it. On the other hand, she doesn't get worked up about much of anything. She is less likely to play with other dogs at the dog park, but more likely to jump up in a strangers lap without invitation & just sit there for a while. She is way less playful at home than Lola is, although she will get into a good B500 or wrestling match most days. She greets friends with just barely more discernible excitement than she uses with strangers (I doubt anybody other than me & a handful of her closest friends would be able to tell the difference). It takes a LOT to scare, stress or unnerve her. She just trusts that since nothing bad has ever happened to her, nothing ever will. This same trait means she is independent as all get out, and I do not trust her off leash. I will let her off leash when we are in big open spaces far from traffic only if Lola is with her & I have really high value treats. I do fear that if she ever gets loose she might find something great to follow, get lost & I'll never see her again. She is extremely food motivated & quick to learn something new, but not very obedient about performing if there is no visible treat. As far as crating goes, I have to show her what treat I have for her. If its not high enough value, she refuses to go into the crate (of course then I just pick her up, put her in & give her the same treat anyway). If I don't leave immediately, she will pee in her crate, tear up the bedding, and cause general mayhem until I let her out. She is much more likely to be the typical independent basenji and ignore me or protest a situation, and although as far as I know she has never once in her life yodeled or barooed, she can whine and growl with the rest of them. She also makes funny yawning noises.
This post was way longer than I intended it to be, and probably too much information (but we all know once we start talking about our own dogs we could go on forever), but in my very limited experience, I've found personalities vary greatly from individual to individual. I don't see much in common between my two brindle girls (aside from love of coursing, cuddling under the covers and treats), and the red & white male I had was his own personality as well. I honestly think there is more personality difference between males and females as opposed to differences in personality based on colors (but again, limited experience. Others may say differently)

@Chealsie508:

tlish- I am scared to bring home a tri if that is what I end up with!! I asked my breeder her thoughts on the "tri" reputation and she assured me that the tri's in her breeding program are just as naughty as any other…lol

ha! yeah, i imagine there's not much to it, genetically, but it's funny that are always posts on here about those naughty tri dogs. i'm just glad that basenjis are small, so that when suki is not doing what i want her to do, i can just pick her up and redirect her - that is, if i can catch her!

well I'll be sure to post for your help then if I get a tri, Iam not 100% sure but if I get a pup from the first litter then out of four pups–> three are tri's...lol.

It's funny my Ayo, is a red and white ,male and he sounds a lot like your Callie, and I have never , ever heard him yodel or baroo, I actually am not sure what a baroo is.. He does yawning noises sometimes, and like callie can "whine and growl with the rest of them" .but in general very silent. His personality is a lot like your description of Callie, .. Except he has lately gotten the habit of nipping for attention and when he gets excited , which is not fun and I can't figure out how to remove the habit..
I wonder if the more "silent" B's have similar personalities?

@dmey:

It's funny my Ayo, is a red and white ,male and he sounds a lot like your Callie, and I have never , ever heard him yodel or baroo, I actually am not sure what a baroo is.. He does yawning noises sometimes, and like callie can "whine and growl with the rest of them" .but in general very silent. His personality is a lot like your description of Callie, .. Except he has lately gotten the habit of nipping for attention and when he gets excited , which is not fun and I can't figure out how to remove the habit..
I wonder if the more "silent" B's have similar personalities?

Callie very gently paws for attention when she wants it. That's 100% my fault because she never used to ask for attention (in a language I understood anyway), so when she did, I encouraged her to let me know so I would know when to pet her.
Its so funny about their personalities. And after I submitted my post, I thought of my friend's brindle girl. She is light like Callie & more laid back like Callie. Doesn't play as much or "talk" as much.
As far as discouraging Ayo… anytime he gets excited & nips, say "OW!" or make a yelping noise. If he does not stop immediately, stop all interaction. Get up & walk away. Puppies teach each other limits by yelping, so he will have a general understanding of what you mean. It shouldn't take him long to catch on that nipping = the exact opposite of what he wants.

I know they did some color/behavior research with horses long ago. As far as I can remember, … I think it had to do with stockings. Anyway it was in Quarterhorses and after all was said and done, some stud 4 generations back was a real shall we say pistol and they attributed this horse with the stockings (don't ask me if it was front legs or back, but I recall not all 4), a popular sire, as the only maybe link. I really have never found any research about colors and personality with dogs, but I do know there are coat color/temperament research validating it with other animals.

That said, in a breed with limited genes in the US, not unlikely there might be some connection. But honest, forget the color, trust your breeder to pick the right puppy. 🙂

First Basenji's

I would be surprised if color had any correlation to personality traits!

I have only had the fortune of owning one red and white B so far. And I think she's also very atypical of the breed – she's very mellow, completely non-destructive, yielding, avoids confrontation, etc.

I love the look of brindles in general (of all breeds) and would be tickled to experience life with a tri someday. I also like the look of "tri" Shiba Inu (they're called black and tans there). But in general, I think there are certain colors and patterns I'm attracted to... which leaves out the black and whites, generally speaking, but I'm sure I'd love a B&W all the same if fate willed one to me.

Oh, what a fun topic.
Yes, it is something that many, many people (including researchers and academics) have been interested for quite a long time.
You might enjoy reading up on it.
Here is a very quick scan of information that is easily available (sorry for the longish post).

This article is about rat research : "Coat color, temperament, and domestication"
http://www.ratbehavior.org/CoatColor.htm

And this one is about cats : "Is Coat Colour Linked to Temperament
http://www.messybeast.com/colour-tempment.htm

And a synopsis of the well know study of domestication in canids : "How Farm Foxes Trace Back the Process of Canine Domestication "
http://www.suite101.com/content/interesting-studies-concerning-dog-domestication-a187309#ixzz1A9TQiiv1
or
http://www.suite101.com/content/interesting-studies-concerning-dog-domestication-a187309

And finally, from http://www.akerrsbengals.com/temperament.htm
This is a fairly complex concept that comes from some observation and from conjecture. Melanin is what colors the hair… and behaviorist surmise: (Beaver, Bonnie: Feline Behavior: A Guide for Veterinarians. WB Saunders Company. Philadelphia. 1992; page 102) : ?Epinephrine has the same metabolic pathway as the pigment melanin, and the same precursor is need for synthesis of both. Genetic manipulation of coat color could then be useful for breeding in or out certain behavioral characteristics such as fear and aggression.?

Helmut Hemmer, Domestication: the Decline of Environmental Appreciation. Cambridge University Press, NY 1983. ?The coat color of a mammal is related to the basic level of its activity, its reaction intensity and its environmental appreciation. The reason for this is probably to be found in the fact that up to a certain stage the pigments that determine color - the melanins - and the catcholamine group of neurotransmitters that are to a large extent the basis of the information processing system share a common biochemical synthesis pathway. Selection of certain coat colors can produce a behavioral change with a corresponding change in the stress system either towards attenuated behavior and increased tolerance or in the opposite direction. Combinations of the alleles of single color genes that deviate from the corresponding wild-type increase or alter their effect on behavior. It follows that the strategy of selecting and combining certain coat color types can produce direct effects on domestication.?
Clyde Keeler in the USA has done studies on laboratory rats, ranch mink, and foxes. Here is a summary of his studies which are often observational. He was visiting a fox farm. (Fox, Michael: The Wild Canids: Their Systematic, Behavioral , Ecology, Evolution. Reinhold Co. NY., page 399. ? All the foxes near me were ambers with an occasional glacier. Farther away I could recognize a pearl or a silver and in the far distance a few platinums. Red foxes never show themselves like this, although they sometimes find their way into the range - nobody knows how.? From this observation , Keeler began a lifelong work in coat color and behavior genetics. ?Quantitative determinations of behavior, size development and biochemical parameters in ranch foxes were the most significant of Keeler?s studies? The colors are as follows: (Fox, 123) ?The animals used were wild red foxes, silver foxes (that is the non-agouti black animals with a silver allele): and pearl, a breed color that combines the non-agouti allele with a dilution allele (blue), amber which carries the brown allele of the piebald allele and for the non-agouti (black) allele of the agouti locus. The offspring were bred further and the behavior of the wild-colored animals (ones in which the agouti allele of the agouti locus was expressed) and the bland animals (with the non-agouti allele) was compared. The non-agouti black rats proved to be less timid and less aggressive and showed more confidence in new situations by exploring them more quickly. Albino rats in these experiments proved to less ready to react to olfactory stimuli than others.?
Keeler also studied rats. (Helmut Henner) ?Keeler first crossed brown rats with albino laboratory rats that , in addition to the albino allele, were homozygotes for the Black locus in addition to the two former alleles, and glacier, animals in which a white allele is add to those for the amber coloring.? This is a very elaborate study that measure adrenal gland response, size, and many other areas statistically. In essence, the amber fox behaved with the least amount of fear, and is also the largest of the fox in size. The more heterozygous for color the animal was, the ?less fear it exhibited?. Keeler went on to study mink and found that color made a difference in size and in behavior. Again, ?the heavier, animals (pastel mink, ie. light brown) had smaller adrenal glands and were characteristically less active and aggressive, that is, they behaved more tamely.? (Hemmer)
Zebras have been studied, Hemmer, (p. 127) sites a study done by Eckehard Eich and Elisabeth Reichert. ?The activity values of the ?whites? coincide with those of domestic horses and donkeys, while the values of the normal-colored zebras differ distinctly from them. ?White? (albino) zebras are less shy of observer in the enclosure than others.?

And still quoting from http://www.akerrsbengals.com/temperament.htm
There are many more studies than I can even begin to note here… however, it should be pointed out that this is being studied and is not a known fact. It could very well be that hair color does indeed follow the same pathways and neurons but I go back to the article in Discover magazine (Sapolsky, Robert: A Gene for Nothing. Discover. October, 1997. Vol. 18 No.10) : ?...By now, I hope, we?ve gotten past ?genes determine behavior? to ?genes modulate how one responds to environment.?? (p. 46.)
It would be a gross mistake to make broad range assumptions on behavior and color alone...
?most differences in behavioral traits are influenced by many gene, not just one or a few genes which means that inheritance will likely be complex.? Voith, Victoria and Borchelt, Peter, editors: Estep, Daniel ?Ontogeny of Behaviors?, in Companion Animal Behavior, page 27.

Fox bred for friendliness. Helmut Hemmer, p. 161-162. Chapter on New Domestications: ?In the preceding chapters, three principles of domestication were elaborated. (1) Wild animals seem to be more suitable for domestication the easier they are to breed successfully in captivity in crowded conditions. (2) Individuals from a species to be domesticated seem to be more suitable the smaller their relative brain size within that species. (3) The selection and combination of certain coat color types can elicit direct domestication effects. With the knowledge of these basic principles, it must now be possible to undertake purposeful selective and combinatory breeding for new domestications which enable the transition period between the wild and the domestic animal to be traversed within a few animal generations, in contrast to the domestication of animals of past millennia that proceeded slowly over hundreds of years and involved a great deal of chance. A further possible approach is to select rigorously for the typical domestic behavioral syndrome, where the fundamental suitability for domestication seems to exist according to the first principle but no differences in the populations or individuals corresponding to the other two principles can be defined.
An excellent example of this approach is provided by a study on breeding a fox that resembled the dog in its behavior, undertaken by K.K.Belyaev and L.N. Trut. This experiment was carried out with silver foxes on a fur farm belonging to t the Soviet Academy of Sciences near Novosibirsk. Young foxes aged between 1 1/2 and 2 months were selected according to the criteria of their tolerance of hand-feeding, their reaction to be handled by humans, and their response to being called. In this way, after 15 years of constant selection, foxes were finally bred that came when they were called, tolerated being petted and picked up by humans, wagged their tails in greeting and barked on seeing humans; in brief, they behaved in practically the same way as dogs.?
The study goes on to say that the foxes changed their reproductive cycles to resemble the domestic dog and the hair color of some of the fox changed to one of a piebald. Black and white fox.

In Sweden its a small general rumor for all dogbreeds that red dogs are more aggressive than black and the one with red noses are the most dangerous. haha!

I think the color has nothing with the temperament or behavior to do, Its just the breed itself that hade special things that they do. 🙂

That was some interesting reading Dr. Jo, thank you!

The fox study seems to prove that there are genetic links between color and behavior.

I have had red & whites, black & whites and tris. My most impish and playful were my first red male and my black male. I have a male and female tri currently, only Nicky (female) is destructive, and her desire to eat my shoes and glasses has lasted all her life and she is now 13. Eddie would not dream of tearing up anything or eating a shoe!

Personally, I think it is the way tris look that contribute to their reputation. Those red pips over the eyes contribute to an impish, dare I say demonic, looking face.

So don't fear a tri, but do guard all your favorite things from any basenji puppy! Not only tris are tri-ing!

There always seems to be a lot of talk on here about "naughty tri's", and maybe I just got lucky but my tri is very laid back and well behaved 😃 She is playful and loves to pester the other dogs into playing, but thats not unusual for any dog I dont think? Certainly all my other dogs have their playful sides. Maya likes a good long run at least once a day, but as long as she has had that she will happily sleep on the sofa for the rest of the day, only waking up to be fed, or for another walk 😃 She has not been anywhere near as bad with chewing as i'd have expected. The only things she's chewed (couple of hairdryer cables and a phone charger cable) have been things i left in her reach. She has free run of the house when im out and never chews the furniture..

Maybe with my next basenji I will have a shock if that turns out to be a "typical tri" lol! But I think, as far as basenji's go, Maya is a dream to live with!

Thanks Dr Jo. I hadn't had time to look up stuff to post but I actually had read most of those!

I agree…don't fear a tri! They are wonderful...and probably my favorite color. Even if they are a little naughtier than the other colors (debateable!) it isn't enough to make your life that much more difficult than any other Basenji. Admittedly, I haven't read much of the research on this, but I can tell you that my friends who are SERIOUS about retrieving competitions will SWEAR that you should stay away from Chocolate Labs...that the ONLY way to go is Yellow or Black...they claim that Chocolates are just dumber than the others, across the board.

@Quercus:

I agree…don't fear a tri! They are wonderful...and probably my favorite color. Even if they are a little naughtier than the other colors (debateable!) it isn't enough to make your life that much more difficult than any other Basenji. Admittedly, I haven't read much of the research on this, but I can tell you that my friends who are SERIOUS about retrieving competitions will SWEAR that you should stay away from Chocolate Labs...that the ONLY way to go is Yellow or Black...they claim that Chocolates are just dumber than the others, across the board.

The chocolate lab thing is a myth too 😃 Over here a lot of people say the chocs have sharper temperments but I have blacks and chocs and there is no difference in them at all other than individual personalities. I think the Yellows and Blacks just have more established working lines, what with chocolate only being an accepted colour relatively recently so possibly it is easier to find a successful yellow or black working lab, but theres plenty of chocs out their doing their job just fine 😃

Tri's are not "really" naughtier… but they are more amusing... and as said... they are "Tri-ing"... gggg... But I love my Tris!!!!! They are my most favorite

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