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The Basenji – A Long, Strange Trip to AKC Recognition

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322 – May, 2021

By Amy Fernandez

Thousands of years from now, historians may unlock the arcane mysteries of AKC policy and procedure. It is convoluted territory, to be sure. The organization’s incomprehensible twists and turns over the years seem limitless. But more than a few of the truly puzzling episodes center on its breed recognition process. Yeah, these days the whole thing’s been itemized and compartmentalized into clear administrative steps. However, any sane person can see that things rarely operate so smoothly. More interestingly, the FSS program represents the tip of the iceberg. Countless breeds got tossed around the boardroom long before that deal went down. Those stories could fill a book, but we’re short on time here. So, let’s talk Basenjis.

By far the most well-known African breed, it’s probably the only one that sparks instant mainstream recognition. Variously known as the Congo Terrier, Bongo, Nyam-Nyam, and Zande Dog, historians frequently cite its resemblance to ancient depictions which sort of confirms the existence of Basenji-type dogs in ancient Egypt. But that really tells us nothing, especially since the breed is indigenous to a completely different part of the continent. Its documented range overlaps several national boundaries and climates ranging from tropical to the desert, where its proven utility as a hunting dog dates back centuries. These days we can buttress archeology and history with DNA evidence and that has confirmed the Basenji’s status as a legitimately ancient breed.

Anyway, between travel writers, archeologists, anthropologists and explorers there was no doubt that stable, recognizable Basenji-type dogs existed somewhere in Africa’s interior. The obvious next step, from a Victorian perspective, was to go collect some. And what began as another weird Victorian project is now a recognized breed worldwide. Over here it competes in the Hound Group where it has always been somewhat of an odd fit.

Click here to read the complete article
322 – May, 2021

Short URL: https://caninechronicle.com/?p=201216

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