Just as an FYI, Brushy Run is not breeding and SkiHi is going to require some perseverance. The principle there is Laurie Stargell. She's the chairperson of the Biochem and Molecular Biology Department at Colorado State University so she isn't going to have a lot of free time to respond to inquiries. So keep trying. I'd get a pup from her in a heartbeat. (Not saying her program is any better than some others, and I have no idea if she's planning for a litter this year, I'm just more familiar with hers).
Also, the Basenji Nationals are in Tucson this year. That would be a great place to meet breeders, and I suspect those that attend are more responsible than average. You might find it fun to attend and It's a great networking opportunity (for example I think Laurie is a judge). Most responsible breeders are committed to placing their dogs in the best homes possible, and nothing beats meeting someone in person, from both sides.
Fish oil. I like the capsules you can get at health food stores. Start by puncturing and then putting one a day in his food -- dogs really like the taste -- and then dialing back to one every other day. (My vet's dog ate a whole bottle and the only side effect was a really smooth coat. So the taste is good and there isn't anything harmful).
You can take one too! The jury is out by the most recent studies do show heart health benefits.
FWIW I don't think the baths are excessive and I suspect the issue isn't with irritation of the skin or anything like that.
Hotspots are a problem for dogs of all breeds. Without a picture it's hard to see where the spot(s) are. In addition to knowing where, it would be helpful to know about when he gets them. Sometimes these are seasonal/allergy issues. We've had mixed results from commercial sprays, meaning they seem to help somewhat. For paws the best seems to be washing after being outside.
@crazysenji I’m from Indiana. There’s a breeder nearby that I’ve been thinking of messaging to ask if I could just come and meet her dogs to get a first-hand impression of them, but that feels so forward
That is not forward at all. In fact I'd think you would be more than welcome. The worst that could happen is they'd say "no". In which case no big deal.
I think Zande has the best information for prospective owners (some of it humorous) I've seen. The website is definitely worth a look.
Also keep in mind that even Basenjis from the same litter are all individuals with their own personalities. So information is more about proclivities than anything. That said, we've never had a dumb Basenji. Some are smarter (or dumber) at some things than others but they've all had things they are smart about.
I am not knowledgeable about cancer of the toe in dogs. However, if it's similar to melanoma then it's quite serious and you don't want to wait. However, personally, even if I trusted the vet I'd try and see a speciality vet ASAP, assuming that is possible.
A couple of reasons for this. One is you want a second opinion and better to get one from an oncologist who specialized in the field. There are obvious questions. Is surgery the preferred course? Should it be followed by radiation or chemo therapy? (I wouldn't expect my primary to treat cancer and it's not all that different in dogs). Second is that if surgery is the preferred option, then, as is the case with surgery in humans -- you want to go somewhere where they do several a week rather than two a year. For surgery nothing beats practice.
There are actually two questions here. One is whether to spay. The other is when to spay.
Spaying before a first season seems likely to interfere with her physical development. I'd go so far as to say to wait for two.
At that point the decision is likely to be clearer.
I'll third or fourth the pumpkin suggestion though I'm probably more in the 2 tsp area than 1/2 a tsp. You could also try Hill's Prescription Diet i/d Digestive Care with Turkey Canned Dog Food. You can just add a little every night, just like you would do for the pumpkin. In both cases you're adding bulk to the stool.
It can also take some dogs a while to adjust to changes in their food. If this is the case, then experimenting with different foods in an effort to find the right one is likely to make things worse. You might also want to feed what the breeder was feeding. It's possible -- though not likely -- that he's not quite ready for some adult foods.
I'd assume that, as with people, dogs need to match their microbiome to their diet. So quick switches can result in a mismatch.