Our first basenji puppy was born 10 Nov 2017, we brought her home 8 Jan 2018, and she began her first heat cycle—the heaviest bleeding lasted 2ish days—around 1 April 2018, so she was not yet 5 months old when it happened for her.
Our contract with the breeder stipulated we have her spayed at 6 months (I know, I know Sally; we got our second B from a different breeder and he is intact with no plans to change that), so it was kind of unfortunate that she had to deal with it. It seemed to really bother her and ran away if a drop of blood fell on the ground while she was walking, although there was such a small amount of blood that I wasn't 100% sure it was estrus. Her rear end became engorged, almost to the point of obscenity, and I kept her away from other dogs, as 1) no puppies for my too-young girl, and 2) she went from super-playful to permanently annoyed, then back to super-playful once it was all over. The engorgement lasted a month or more, but everything went back to normal eventually.
So: it's definitely an experience for your girl, but considering the fact that I wasn't sure she'd been in heat at all until after her 6-month surgery and her vet confirmed that she had recently gone through a cycle, it's really not going to be as bad as you think it might be. I don't have much to offer for your questions about long-term things (other than intact males are comparatively easy to deal with, in my experience), but the actual season really isn't a big deal.
There are quite a few reputable breeders in TX, but unlike, say, Washington State with the Evergreen Basenji Club, there is no such list—not even an out-of-date one. The best thing to do would be to the join the Dallas-Fort Worth Texas Basenji Club (which really serves all of TX) on Facebook. Join, but don’t post for a little while. If you can wait two weeks to post your “interested in a basenji puppy; anyone know of breeders taking reservations for next year’s litters?” all the better.
Make sure you post your question like that, too. Posting “Where can I get a basenji puppy?” comes off as demanding. Asking about breeders taking future reservations / getting on a wait list means that you’re familiar with the process and not ready to settle for whatever backyard breeder you can scrounge up. Basenji people know that this breed requires a particular sort of person, and if you don’t demonstrate that you could be that sort of person, they will sometimes clam up.
All of that being said, when we moved to Dallas with one B and wanted to get another, I first managed to find Pat Marshall, who wasn’t planning a litter that year and then referred me to Signet Kennels (Brenda Cassell), who was. We started the process in October or November, got lucky as she was co-breeding like three litters that year, and brought home our new puppy in April. Linda Stilwell, who admins the Facebook group, and especially Pat Marshall (about an hour NW from Houston) both seem to be really plugged into the B breeding community and knowing who is planning litters where. I found their email/phone numbers by Googling, but you could probably message them on FB if you prefer.
A couple of final recommendations: there is a huge dog show this coming F, Sat, & Sun in Dallas. There are usually 10+ Bs and at least a few breeders. No idea what your situation is or if you’d even want to come to Dallas, but a dog show can be a really great environment to get to know the breed. Also, the FB group has lots of good breed information that is very worth reading.
Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions, and good luck in your search for the perfect pup!
Whippets are a common companion breed for basenjis. Our Bs have really loved playing with a number of shiba inus. If you’re looking for a new family member sooner rather than later, I’d recommend adopting a dog that’s in the 30-40 lb range (at least, that’s a size my dogs consider to be pretty equal). Finding an individual dog that your B enjoys is obviously the most important (when you’re adopting a not-puppy), so I’d focus on a weight range just a little bigger than your basenji.
100% agree with Tanza -- @elbrant show breeders are arguably the only ones who are turning out litters of dogs who should become pets. The vast majority of breeders' dogs DO end up as pets. Usually at least half of a litter right off the bat, with a big percentage of the rest becoming pets over the next couple of years. Responsible breeding tends to be a financial loss -- the testing before breeding, prenatal care, individual puppy testing after the birth (e.g. canine ophthalmologists aren't cheap), plus the expense of just having so many dogs around for a while all adds up. If a breeder sells their pups for $1000-$1500 and absolutely nothing unexpected happens, they might break even on a litter. With such a tight margin if you're breeding correctly, it's really only something you do if you're passionate about it.
As someone who has never been and will never be a breeder (and is, unfortunately, most accurately characterized as a "fancier" ugh), I'd never want a dog from a backyard breeder, or someone who just loves their dog so much there should be more of them, or from someone who wants their kids to see the miracle of life via puppy birth. I want a dog from someone who cares about the health of the dam, the sire, AND the resulting puppy; who cares about making sure their puppies have good temperaments (and animals who have been trained as show dogs are the best kind of chill and obedient); who cares about the reputation and perception of the breed; and who cares about the sort of environment their puppies end up in. Fortunately, in order for breeders to keep doing what THEY are doing, they need people like us who also care about the quality of the breed and of individual dogs enough to acquire puppies responsibly.
TL;DR: we have two basenjis near Dallas, would be happy to let you meet them (potentially halfway in between); message me!
[I was clearly reading too quickly initially, but since I already typed it, I'm not going to delete this paragraph; glad to see we do have the same positive opinion!] Tanza -- Signet is actually a good, reputable breeder (https://www.facebook.com/signetkennels/); one of her dogs sired the pup we got last year. We were involved a bit with basenjis in Seattle (got our first pup in WA) before we moved to TX, and in my experience, she's as good as Platinum, FoPaw, Taji, or the other breeders we met in the Evergreen club.
Slprrex, there aren't a lot of basenji breeders in Texas, unfortunately, and a lot of the ones who are here aren't currently doing a ton of breeding, so it wouldn't surprise me if Brenda and Ciara are your best bet for a breeder locally. In looking at the Mandy's Pups page on FB, they don't seem to be doing any showing, and as silly as conformation may seem to people outside the dog show world, I would hesitate to get a puppy from someone who isn't actively trying to improve the breed (most easily verified by conformation). When we were first looking here in TX we ran into more than a couple of puppy mills, and while it doesn't seem like Mandy's would fall into that category, I would encourage you to do a LOT of research, meet the sire &/or dam, see where the dogs are kept, etc.
I completely understand the need to want to meet a basenji or two before you pursue picking one up; we went to a lure coursing event and were able to ask a ton of questions, hold dogs, see how smelly they were (not very; there were a dozen in an RV and it barely smelled like dog at all, and I have a very sensitive nose), etc. Anyway!
Meeting basenjis: we have two (quintessentially basenji-ish) basenjis and we're in the Dallas area, sort of where 183 and 114 converge (if you look at a map), but we might be able to meet up closer to you. We like to take our dogs out to less-populated places to let them run around, and while we've only gone west previously to the LBJ Grasslands, we could probably find something in the direction of Tyler, maybe partway between Tyler and Dallas, and meet there. We wouldn't be able to do that any sooner than the weekend of the 15th, and would almost certainly be able to make something over Thanksgiving work. If you were super anxious, I'd be happy to meet you this weekend in Dallas, but would completely understand if that didn't work for you. I think we can send private messages via this forum, so try that and we can connect via PM, if you'd like.
If our dogs got covered in mud or slobbered on in the dog park, we just rinse them off if at all possible; when shampoo is needed we've had luck with an all-natural oatmeal shampoo that is designed for both cats and dogs (an absolute necessity, if you ask me, because of the way our Bs groom themselves; only-ok-for-dogs shampoo will likely have things we don't want them ingesting). Our dogs sleep in our bed with us, so we're pretty sensitive to their level of cleanliness. Even at that, they need an actual bath in the range of once every 3-4 months. Every 4-5 weeks is WAY TOO often for basenjis.
One of our Bs tends towards dry skin, too, so we give her the occasional spoonful of coconut oil to EAT, or even a pat of butter. In our experience, ingesting a bit of fat does wonders for her skin dryness; adding anything to the outside doesn't work for us. Healthy fats, depending on what she's willing to eat, should help a lot.
Is there any chance there's an allergy going on? One of our Bs was born in Washington State, and apparently now that we live in Texas, she's somewhat allergic to the environment. We give her Benedryl somewhat regularly (25 mg every 12 hours, probably just a few times a week) at her vet's instruction and under the vet's supervision. Her most common place for a hot spot is between her toes, because she nibbles at the area, and the Benedryl seems to stop that itching which in turn gets her to leave the spot alone.
Obviously, a photo would be most helpful, but allergies and managing those might be something worth looking into.
I wouldn't bother with the extreme. Our two Bs still use both the puppy kongs and classic Kongs without any problems (although they do chew up/destroy other things). We also have both medium and large and find they both work well, depending on how much food/how many treats we want to give them.