Basenji Health

The Basenji is still a "native dog" and is free of many of the health issues that plague other breeds, however, like other breeds, the Basenji is subject to a few health matters.

 

Health Committee

The Club monitors the health of the Basenji Breed closely. In order to achieve this, one of the Committees of the Club is the "Health Committee"

 

VISION STATEMENT

 

“For every Basenji puppy to be born without genetic defects or chronic health problems. To this end we will gather, verify and publish useful information pertaining to the health of Basenjis”

 

  • The Basenji is a natural breed, so we have a strong genetic base that has been provided by natural selection over thousands of years. Our breed standard describes the dogs as they were found in Africa.

 

  • The need to remain proactive in ensuring that Basenji health is understood and supported, both within our Club and in wider circles.

 

  • The need to be proactive is underpinned by a growing number of issues relating to dog health, for example:

 

  • Concerns regarding genetic deficiencies and defects in some breeds.

  • The assumption, with little or no evidence, that cross‑bred animals are healthier.

  • The growing influence of organisations like PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and concern that some may have an ultimate goal that would prohibit owning pet animals.

  •  The growing number of health committees for other breeds.

  • Actions by local governments

  • Growing requirements to demonstrate the fitness of exported dogs to imposed standards.

 

 

 

The Following links will direct you to sites that can explain some of the Health Issues that may effect our breed.

 

We strongly suggest that, before you purchase a puppy, you discuss any concerns with the breeder.

Fanconi Syndrome

Fanconi syndrome is an inherited disease in which the kidneys do not properly reabsorb electrolytes and nutrients back into the body, but instead spill them into the urine.  Symptoms include excessive drinking (polydipsia), excessive urination (polyuria), and glucose in the urine (glucosuria).  If left untreated, muscle wasting, acidosis (increased acidity in the blood), and poor condition occurs.

The disease, typically progresses slowly, despite treatment and eventually results in death from kidney failure.  However, if caught early and put on treatment (Fanconi Treatment Protocol), dogs with the disorder can do well and often have a nearly normal lifespan.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an inherited eye disease that occurs in many breeds of dogs. In basenjis, it causes progressive vision loss leading to blindness. Inherited PRA occurs in both eyes (bilateral) and the part of the eye affected is the retina. With PRA the retina deteriorates (atrophies) over time (progressive) and ultimately causes blindness. The progression of vision loss may take a number of years and there is no treatment.

Basenjis affected by PRA usually do not exhibit changes in their vision until they are well into middle or even old age (5 – 8 years or even older).

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)

Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM) is a common condition known to be inherited in basenjis.   In PPM, a normal membrane in the eye of the unborn puppy does not completely reabsorb and disappear after the puppy is born. As the unborn puppy develops, the part of the eye called the iris initially forms as a solid sheet known as the pupillary membrane. This important membrane contains blood vessels to supply nutrients to the developing lens of the eye before birth.  During the first two weeks of life, before the eyes open, the membrane normally reabsorbs and disappears.  However some of the pupillary membrane may persist in different forms. The location and extent of the persistent membrane or strands of membrane will indicate whether it affects vision.  PPM can and should be assessed by a veterinary ophthalmologist at approximately 9 weeks of age.

Thyroid Problems

The thyroid glands (there is a pair) secrete and regulate the hormones responsible for metabolism and some organ function.  Thyroid gland disease in dogs is most often hypothyroid (underactive / low functioning gland).   It may be the only symptom of the disease or it may be a part of a broader autoimmune disorder.  One form of hypothyroidism is caused by autoimmune thyroiditis and is known to be an inherited disease.   But idiopathic (cause unknown) thyroid gland atrophy can also occur.  An underactive thyroid generally means that the dog's metabolism is slower than normal.

Hypothyroidism can be controlled very easily by medication.

Some or several of the following symptoms may be observed:  weight gain without an increase in appetite, symmetrical  hair loss and poor coat, ear and skin changes (including dryness, chronic bacterial infections, discoloration, or thickening), lethargy and lack of interest in physical activity or play, and/or significant behavioral changes like aggression.