The Basenji boasts a lovely character and if well cared for and healthy, they can live anything up to 14 years. The breed is considered to be pretty robust boasting few congenital and hereditary diseases, although it has to be said that to date studies into the breed have not been that extensive.
However, like a lot of breeds, the Basenji is known to suffer from a few health issues which includes conditions that affect their eyesight as well as others that affect internal organs. Below is a list of conditions the breed is seen to suffer from, although not all Basenjis would ever develop any of them during the course of their lives.
Conditions that affect the breeds eyesight include the following:
Progressive Retinal Atrophy – PRA, is an eye disease where gradual loss of vision occurs and as such any dog diagnosed with the condition would need to undergo an annual eye test. This allows vets to monitor how the condition is progressing which in turn means they can recommend future care for affected dogs. Currently there is no cure for this progressive disorder.
Another congenital abnormality seen in the Australian Shepherd as well as other breeds, this is an ocular disorder where the surrounding tissue of the eyeball is missing when puppy are first born. Occasionally, the missing part may develop during the first 6 to 8 weeks.
This is another genetic ocular abnormality which affect eyelids, the iris, lens, retina and optic nerve and where normal development does not occur.
This is the most frequent cause of primary hypothyroidism that's seen in many breeds of dogs with symptoms typically developing when they are between 2 and 5 years old. There is a genetic form of this disorder and there is a test to check whether a dog may have the disorder but with this said only a very few false positives tend to occur.
This is an acquired or hereditary condition where kidney function is severely compromise which eventually leads to total renal failure. The condition can be treated although the prognosis tends to be pretty poor.
Sadly, this is a condition the breed suffers from and is a progressive and severe type of inflammatory bowel disease. On the upside, only a small percentage of Basenjis develop the condition but many dogs are asymptomatic carriers. The prognosis tends to be guarded because dogs do not respond that well to any treatments and those that do tend to experience a relapse later in their lives.
This is a condition that was first reported in Basenjis in 1971, but has since been diagnosed in other breeds too. It is an hereditary disorder where there's a erythrocyte enzyme deficiency. The prognosis is guarded with most dogs dying when they are between 4 or 5 years old. When it comes to causes, it's though to be related to kidney failure and anaemia. There is no known cure for this condition at the present time.
Another condition that affects Basenjis, an umbilical hernia occurs where the belly button is situated allowing stomach contents to pass through it. Vets would want to surgically correct the opening and replace any abdominal contents that may have passed out. In some cases, the umbilical hernia will close by itself which typically occurs when dogs are around 6 months old. Smaller hernias might not need surgical intervention, but larger ones would to avoid any further complications.
If you are set on buying a Basenji puppy, it's really important to contact a breeder who has a well planned breeding programme in place and who screens all their dogs because this reduces the chances of any puppies inheriting any health disorders from their parents.
Although it seems like the Basenji is prone to suffer from a whole lot of health disorders, not all dogs will ever develop any of the conditions mentioned above. Even with the best breeding programme in place where dogs have been screened, there is however, no guarantee that puppies won't develop any hereditary or congenital diseases because the "bad genes" can skip a few generations which is something you need to bear in mind.