Breed advice: Basenji or Shetland Sheepdog.

Discussion in 'The Dog Breeds' started by ChrisWB, May 2, 2011.

  1. ChrisWB

    ChrisWB New Member

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    Hey everyone, I've been a member for 5 years but have never posted. Go figure!

    My beautiful long-haired dachshund passed away last year and the house has felt empty; living alone is hard to adapt to after living with a dog! I've been on the lookout for a sweet, healthy puppy to add to the family and two local breeders have caught my eye.

    One breeder breeds and shows Basenjis. His dogs are absolutely beautiful, and they're wonderfully trained. However, the stories that I have heard and read about the basenji breed leads me to believe this is the exception to the rule.

    The second breeder breeds Shetland Sheepdogs on his ranch. He's not a backyard breeder, but he does not seriously show his dogs. The dogs themselves have a fantastic lineage, a great health record, and friendly temperaments.

    I have a small house with a large front and back yard. Both yards have a 8ft fence around them. I'd be with this dog for the vast majority of the day; he or she would be my work and travel buddy.

    What breed would you guys recommend?
     
  2. SaraB

    SaraB New Member

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    Depends on what you are looking for in a dog.

    Basenjis are very independent. They can be trained but it takes a lot of consistent work. They also could take you or leave you, meaning they won't be your shadow. Cat-like is a true description of the breed.

    I haven't ever owned a sheltie but herding dogs in general are very willing to work with you. I know shelties are a little more independent than say a border collie but not to the extreme of a basenji. These dogs are easier to train than basenjis but will require a lot more exercise/mental stimulation as well.
     
  3. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Personally I could never have a basenji. Just not my type of dog. However, I've adored all my shelties. But shelties are definitely NOT the breed for everyone (or most) either.

    What do you want in a dog specifically?
     
  4. ChrisWB

    ChrisWB New Member

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    Sara and Laurelin,

    Thank you for your replies. The description that Sara provided of Basenjis is true to what I've heard and read.

    I'm looking for a dog that is bright, affectionate, non-threatening towards strangers (my college students), and adaptable. The dog should also be friendly towards other dogs. I would prefer a dog that's trainable which gives points in the Sheltie's favor.
     
  5. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I've met a few basenjis who are rather friendly and affectionate...obviously not the same friendly and affectionate towards strangers and even their owners as breeds like a lab or pit bull or something, but not a completely aloof cat-dog, either.

    If you spend a significant amount of time with the breeders dogs and like their personalities, I say choose a dog based on that, rather than what you read in a book or on the internet or see from someone else's dogs.

    By "trainable" do you mean you want a dog that's easily housebroken and taught to ride calmly in the car, etc. or do you want a dog to do tons of cute tricks or dog sports? Because a basenji probably isn't going to learn to roll over and fetch the paper, but you could certainly teach one basic commands and house rules.

    I think a sheltie would be more likely to play with other dogs, but they might also try to herd them. The few basenjis I've known have been pretty aloof towards other dogs, but not aggressive at all.
     
  6. Aleron

    Aleron New Member

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    I have probably been around more Basenjis than most non-Basenji owners. They are appealing little dogs in many ways - nice size, good looks, athletic, intelligent. But they can be extremely hard to motivate for training, are very independent and can quite reactive when upset. Many strongly dislike being confined and some can become quite destructive. Keep in mind they are a rather primitive breed. They are thought of as "the barkless dog", which makes people think they are quiet. They aren't at all quiet. They shriek...YouTube - Basenji Cell Phone Reaction
     
  7. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    Another thing to consider is grooming/shedding. A sheltie is going to need to be brushed at least once a week, if not more, and sheds more than a basenji. Basenjis shed too, but not as bad and need less brushing/coat maintenance.
     
  8. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Basenjis on are on my 'someday' list. I really like them.

    For training, sure they can be a challenge, but how much training do you need to do? I mean its one thing if you want a good companion that doesn't pee in the house, walks on a leash and does a few tricks, its another thing if you want to do dog sports...

    Most I know are great family pets. Not for everyone for sure, but people own cats just fine and they are even less trainable. I would worry more about how YOU fit with these breeds as they are very different. Shelties are not for me at all (I have lived with one, she was sweet, but not for me) Too loud, too hairy, and often too busy (and yes this comes from a JRT breeder)
     
  9. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I also just re-read that you had a dachshund for many years...I think, having worked with both, though a few less basenjis, that they're not less trainable or more difficult to train than a dachshund.
     
  10. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Shelties are fantastic dogs. But they do bark a lot and are very vocal. And their coats require quite a bit of upkeep. The flip side of their trainability is that shelties were originally a herding breed and tend to need a 'job' to do. It doesn't have to be anything major, but you have to keep them busier than a lot of breeds. Sheltie can also have quite a bit of energy so they need some real exercise every day.

    They can also be pretty aloof with strangers. Many shelties are shy, which is not correct for the breed, however, it is very common these days. I would be very careful to make sure the parents and lines your sheltie comes from are not overly timid. Fearfulness is a huge problem in the breed.

    If you have any specific questions ask away! I had the breed over 16 years and there's quite a few other sheltie people around here.

    I think that's funny. I didn't find my shelties to be very busy at all, at least compared to my papillons. I would say my shelties had the most adaptable energy level of any breed I've ever owned. Even as youngsters they seemed to turn off well (Beau is about the same age now that Nik and Trey were when we got the paps and he's about 10x the energy)
     
  11. ChrisWB

    ChrisWB New Member

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    Thank you all for your advice.

    From what everyone is saying it sounds as though a Sheltie would be a better fit for my lifestyle. I've scheduled a time to visit the breeder's ranch to meet the dogs and puppies. If I feel a connection to one of the puppies I will likely add a Sheltie to the family.

    Now I just have to get over my prejudice that a show dog is "better"; the Shelties are working ranch dogs and are bred with health as a priority.

    Dekka,

    Shelties are more energetic than JRTs? Good lord!

    milos_mommy,

    Dachshunds are a royal pain in the butt to train, but I had no trouble training mine. It just took a LONG time. My silliest training mistake was teaching her the command "speak"; she was bright enough to realize that she was getting food whenever she made noise. I foolishly turned my dachshund into quite the little opera singer! My family still gives me grief about that.

    I am considering scheduling a time to visit the Basenji breeder as well, but I haven't decided whether it would be worthwhile.
     
  12. Dekka

    Dekka Just try me..

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    Ya I have met some that are chill, but I find the whippets more busy than the JRTs.
     
  13. Laurelin

    Laurelin I'm All Ears

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    Mine weren't exactly chill either, just chill-er. LOL They really liked having something to do every day and definitely needed exercise but at the same time were very much okay if you missed a day or two of exercise. And just in general they weren't quite as demanding about things as the paps. I sure do KNOW when Mia hasn't had enough to do. :rofl1:

    The very first thing Trey did when we brought him home was leap over our couch in one bound, lol.
     
  14. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    Depending on where the Basenji comes from, they might fit in ok. Many of the US show breeders have been breeding for more biddability and less "primitive", which means they're not entirely "Basenjis" anymore. My former training mentor had a 4th generation show bred Basenji--still not my cup of tea but she worked for her owner pretty well, but that was about it. If you weren't her person, you could go take a flying leap.

    Honestly, given your list of wants, the Sheltie would fit in a bit better, though neither breed is exactly known for being good with strangers, in that they're both known for being rather/very aloof. Many Shelties are quite shy.
     
  15. YodelDogs

    YodelDogs New Member

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    *raises hand slowly*

    Basenji breeder here

    The right Basenji could meet all of your requirements. Basenjis are very intelligent dogs and they learn incredibly fast. The trick is to use positive reinforcement, preferably clicker training. You also have to change up training constantly to keep them guessing what will be next and to keep them from growing bored. Training is easy, consistency is not. A Basenji will never be a "push-button" dog who obeys instantly and without question. And for this reason you need to have a ton of patience and a good sense of humor.

    This is a video of me working 3 pups from last year. They had only had one short lesson before this one.

    YouTube - Basenji puppies learning to sit


    Breeders have done a great job in toning down the temperament and most Basenjis who are well-socialized as puppies can be good with other dogs. Some, however, never enjoy interacting with strange dogs and they are not afraid to say something about it. Boys tend to be more easy-going than girls.

    Basenjis can be very affectionate and they enjoy cuddling but they will not fawn all over you like a Golden Retriever. They are curious dogs so they will follow you around the house or your yard. It's hard to even go to the bathroom without at least one "supervising" the procedure. *coughs*

    Basenjis are a nice, portable size and they enjoy going places. They are very clean, have no body odor, shed very little, almost never pant, and never drool. They are not able to make a repetitive bark but they can make a single bark which sounds more like a "boof". They are capable of making any other sound any dog can make plus a wide assortment of noises of their own. Many can make a pleasant yodel when they are happy and a few can make a blood-curdling scream when they are not happy.

    I have had the breed for 20 years and I will probably always have them. If you have any questions I will be happy to try to answer them. :)

    Sherwood Basenjis
     
  16. ChrisWB

    ChrisWB New Member

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    Thank you all for your advice! I wrote a longer post, but it is being "held for moderation". I'm not sure why. Perhaps I wrote the phrase "thank you" too many times? ;)

    YodelDogs,

    The puppies in your video are absolutely adorable, and the dogs on your website are some of the most beautiful I have ever seen. It's a shame that you're not located in the southwest. Do you mind if I contact you via private message to see if you've heard of the breeder with whom I've spoken? Thank you for the offer to answer questions; I'll take you up on it! Here are a few off the top of my head:

    1. You mentioned that boys are more easy-going than girls. The dog that my dog/puppy will be around the most is a submissive male rat terrier. Would it be better to choose a female to ensure that there's no fighting? Come to think of it, all of the dogs that I interact with on a daily basis (all of my neighbors are dog-crazy as well!) are males.

    2. How much stimulation do you think that a Basenji needs every day? I would likely take my dog everywhere with me: on campus where I work, around the neighborhood (most of the restaurants I frequent are dog-friendly), and etc. There are only 3-5 hours out of every day that I would be away from the dog on average.

    3. Do Basenjis bond with their owners? I've heard from a number of owners that they do not bond with anyone.

    4. Will a Basenji attempt to escape from my yards if left unsupervised for a few minutes? I have an 8' chain link fence around both my front and back yard.

    Thanks!
     

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