Health Concerns in Basenjis
The Basenji breed does have some health issues that
anyone considering this breed
should be aware of before purchasing one.
Fanconi Syndrome, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Hip Dysplasia.
Below is a brief description of each.
FANCONI SYNDROME (Renal Tublar Dysfunction)
Fanconi first surfaced in the mid-70's. Unfortunatlry, it is still affecting the breed today. Fanconi is a disorder that causes a dog's kidneys to not function properly. A normal kidney takes the nutrients back into the
body and voids the waste.
Fanconi causes the kidneys to void the nutrients along with the waste.
Symptoms of Fanconi include increased drinking, increased urination and weight loss. A dog in the late stages of Fanconi can not make it through the night without urinating and many urinate in their sleep.
The unfortunate problem for our breed, besides the disorder itself, is that it is "late onset" which means that it doesn't manifest until the dogs are older, typically 4 to 8 years old.
September 2011 - The Basenji world has received great news!!!
Dr Johnson at the University of Missouri found the direct gene responsible for Fanconi Syndrome.
With this discovery, Dr Johnson has developed a DNA test for Fanconi.
Fanconi has proven to be a simple recessive gene. This means that an affected dog has to have received an affected gene from each parent. So, if breeders test their breeding stock and have at least one clear parent for every litter, no Basenji born from this day forward, should ever develop Fanconi Syndrome.
Like Polio in humans, soon Fanconi will be but a distant memory...
More information about the new direct gene test for Fanconi can be found on the Basenji Club of America's website:
PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY (PRA)
PRA is another problem that seems to plague Basenjis. In a PRA afflicted dog, the retinas slowly atrophy and
the dog eventually goes blind.
Like Fanconi, PRA is a late onset health problem in Basenjis. First signs usually appear after 4 years of age, and can be detected by an eye specialist.
PRA seems to be a simple recessive in Basenjis, so if a dog is afflicted, both of his/her parents would be carriers and any of his/her offspring would also carriers.
Breeding stock should be checked at least every other year for PRA (from age 3 or 4 through at least age 10 or 11) by a board certified Opthamologist.
When looking into buying a Basenji, ask the breeder if he/she checks eyes regularly. Always ask for proof - an honest breeder won't mind the question.
March 2013 - The Basenji world has more good news!!!
Researchers have found the direct gene responsible for one type of PRA in Basenjis (research shows there are 2 types). The test is for "PRA-BJ1" - also called "Basenji Night Blindness".
PRA-BJ1, like Fanconi, has proven to be a simple recessive gene. This means that an affected dog has to have received an affected gene from each parent. So, if breeders test their breeding stock and have at least one clear parent for every litter, no Basenji born from this day forward, should ever develop PRA-BJ1.
Sadly, not as many breeders seem to be testing for PRA-BJ1. Some breeders feel it is a waste of time because it only tests for 1 type of PRA. In our opinion, that's like saying that women should not get a mammogram because it only looks for one type of cancer - breast cancer.
It is our opinion that if a direct gene DNA test exists for ANY disease, no Basenji should be bred without being tested first.
More information about the new direct gene test for PRA can be found on the Basenji Club of America's website:
In the first 720 Basenji hip x-rays sent to the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) for evaluation, 3.1% were found to be dysplastic. This may not seem like a significant number, however the number becomes more significant with the realization that most veternarians can determine that a dog is dysplastic by looking at the x-ray, so most x-rays on dysplastic dogs are NOT sent to the OFA.
Another thing to consider is that in the last 10 years 1371 Basenjis have had their hips graded by the OFA.
Of those Basenjis, 90 have been graded as "Fair" - that's over 6% - and "Fair" is just a step above displastic. If a Basenji is graded "Fair" at less then 3 years of age, they should be x-rayed again in about a year. Often the second x-ray shows hip dysplasia.
We suggest that you should deal with a breeder who x-rays all of their breeding stock and gives a guarantee against hip dysplasia. Don't be afraid to ask for proof - the OFA issues a certificate for each dog they evaluate.
And don't just ask about the parents of your potential puppy - ask about the grandparents too. There have been several cases where a dog has passed OFA's evaluation, but his mother and/or father are dysplastic and he has produced dysplastic children.
Also, be concerned about dogs that were graded "Fair", especially at a young age.
You can check the OFA website (www.offa.org) for further information. They list all dogs that been
submitted and have passed the evaluation. They also list abnormal results if the owner has granted permission for the information to be made public. You can look at a vertical pedigree of a dog. A vertical pedigree shows all test results for parents, grand parents, siblings and offspring. It's a fabulous tool.
The Basenji Health Endowment collects money that is used to fund researchers who are looking for tests and/or cures for our various health problems. All donations are tax-deduxtable.
For more information, click the link: Basenji Health Endowment
last updated Oct '15