Fanconi Syndrome is a renal tubular dysfunction that was first reported in the Basenji in 1976

Fanconi Syndrome

Symptoms of this kidney disorder are increased thirst, frequent urination, dehydration, weight loss, changes in haircoat, and weakness. If left untreated the dog will constantly succumb to severe Urinary Tract Infections (UTI), become very ill and will eventually die. Many vets have misdiagnosed the disorder as Diabetes, kidney failure or thyroid deficiency due to lack of knowledge of Fanconi syndrome. The signs may appear as early as the age of three, but Basenjis between the ages of five and eight have shown the highest rate of occurrence.

While there is yet no cure for Fanconi Syndrome, research does go on. Meanwhile the prognosis for the health of affected dogs is very good if owners work with their veterinarian on identifying their dog's metabolic deficiencies and place them on a vitamin, mineral, bicarbonate, replacement regimen, combined with a high protein diet, to make up for the kidney's losses. This has been developed by Dr Steve Gonto, M.M.Sc, Ph.D, USA, who has produced a Fanconi disease Management Protocol for veterinarians. A Fanconi affected dog has what is termed medically as high output failure.

If you are planning on getting a Basenji puppy make sure to ask the breeder if the parents have been DNA tested for Fanconi Syndrome.

DNA Test- U.S.A

Great News For Basenji Owners & Breeders everywhere!

Dr. Gary Johnson in the U.S has identified the mutation responsible for recessive basenji Fanconi Syndrome. A new test, a direct Fanconi gene test is now available through the OFA.

Since Fanconi Syndrome is generally fatal if not treated correctly all responsible breeders will be testing their Basenjis for the Fanconi DNA test before breeding from them.

All Basenji Fanconi results are public on the OFA Database here:
Orthopedic Foundation For Animals

How to proceed once you have your test results:

There are three possible test results: Clear, Carrier, & Affected. Below is a description of what each result means to you as a breeder.

This result indicates that the gene is not present in your dog. Therefore, when used for breeding, a 'Clear' dog will not pass on the Fanconi gene.

This result indicates that one copy of the Fanconi gene is present in your dog.
Dogs with Carrier status will not develop Fanconi Syndrome but will pass on the Fanconi gene 50% of the time.

This result indicates that two copies of the Fanconi gene are present in the dog. These dogs will develop Fanconi Syndrome & will always pass on the Fanconi gene to their progeny.

Breeding Pair Combinations

Predicted Outcomes of breeding with Fanconi Syndrome
Parents Fanconi Results of Offspring
Clear x Clear 100 % guaranteed Clear Offspring
Clear x Carrier 50 % Clear, 50 % Carrier
Clear x Affected 100 % Guaranteed Carrier Offspring
Carrier x Carrier 25 % Clear, 50 % Carrier, 25 % Affected
Carrier x Affected50 % Carrier, 50 % Affected,
Affected x Affected 100 % Guaranteed Affected


Indi playing in the bush Sunny hiding in the bush


Hip Dysplasia is a condition in which the hip socket is badly formed and can lead to lameness & a great deal of pain

Australian Hip Scores

Hipe Score comparison
Excellent 0 - 4 (no more than 3 per hip)
Good 5 - 10 (no more than 6 per hip)
Fair 11 - 18
Borderline 19 - 25
Mild Hip Dysplasia26 - 35
Moderate Dysplasia 35 - 50
Severe Dysplasia 51 - 106

The above ratings were published by Dr. Susan Gauthier.

Hip Dysplasia can lead to lameness, osteoarthritis & a great deal of pain & disability for affected dogs.It is believed to be polygenic, with multiple genes involved in its development.
Dogs should wait until they are fully developed before their hips are evaluated by a specialist to get an accurate reading.
In Australia (2012) the current breed average is a total score of 6.9 for Basenjis. This is the total of each hip score added together.
In our opinion breeding from dogs who are not hip scored means missing out on vital information necessary in any breeding program.

The thyroid gland is known as the master gland and controls the speed of metabolism of almost all body cells

Thyroid Issues

There appears to be a Genetic Predisposition to Hypothyroidism in Basenjis, which can in turn be triggered by environmental challenges, including over vaccination and preventive chemical for fleas, ticks, heartworm etc. When thyroid hormones are present at below normal levels, many different bodily functions can be affected; so the clinical appearance of the disease can and does vary. See below for a list of the clinical signs of hypothyroidism in canines.

Although hypothyroidism is not life threatening, the quality of life of affected dogs is subnormal. Breeders of Basenjis should advise veterinarians of the fact that sighthounds as a general rule have lower normal ranges for T4 and T3 concentrations as compared to other breeds.
Please note that most vets will simply run a T4 test if a Thyroid test is requested. This test on its own is basically a useless test as it only gives a snap shot of the T4 level at that point in time which varies throughout the day without taking into consideration the other levels which are needed for an overall picture of what is occurring.

....The Tests to ask for....

The most cost effective Thyroid panel recommended is the Thyroid 5 Panel - which is composed of T4, Free T4, T3, Free T3 and TGAA - Cost: $80 U.S available through Hemopet in the U.S

Testing is reliable if done an anoestrus. Testing in oestrus will give false results therefore it is recommended to test in the 30 days in the middle period of anoestrus (hips/eyes, are also recommended to be done during this period).

Research suggests that up to 90 % of cases of Hypothyroidism are actually the end stage of:

Auto Immune Lymphocytic Thyroiditis

During the progression of this hereditary autoimmune disease, affected animals produce auto-antibodies against their own thyroglobulin.
The slow, and eventual total, destruction of the thyroid gland caused by this disease is eventually fatal.

Although heredity is not yet fully understood it is generally agreed that it is a single gene recessive disease.

The best current marker for this disease is a positive TgAA test result.

TgAA= Canine Thyroglobulin autoantibody.
Carriers are not detected by testing currently.

An important consideration for breeders is that the TgAA test can detect this disease years before clinical siqns of hypothyroidism occur. Most affected dogs will have autoantibodies by 5 years of age. It is rare but not unknown for a dog to have positive TgAA before one year of age so it is recommended to commence testing after puberty; between 15-18 months is the ideal age, and then semi-annually. After 5 years of age a dog which has not tested positive for TgAA is unlikely to develop the disease and should remain clear for life. After the age of 6 years if thyroid problems are suspected the FT4 and TSH tests become more accurate indicators of thyroid disease.

Interpretation of Results
Results of greater than 35% are positive for TgAA
Results of 20-35% are inconclusive for TgAA
Results of less than 20% are negative for TgAA.

  • Clinical Signs Of Hypothyroidism

    Alterations in Cellular Metabolism
    lethargy weight gain
    mental dullness cold intolerance
    exercise intolerance mood swings
    neurologic signs hyperexcitability
    polyneuropathy stunted growth
    seizures chronic infections
    Neuromuscular Problems
    weakness knuckling or dragging feet
    stiffness muscle wasting
    laryngeal paralysis megaesophagus
    facial paralysis head tilt
    tragic expression drooping eyelids
    incontinence ruptured cruciate ligament
    Dermatologic Diseases
    dry, scaly skin and dandruff chronic offensive skin odor
    coarse, dull coat bilaterally symmetrical hair loss
    rat tail; puppy coat seborrhea with greasy skin
    hyperpigmentation seborrhea with dry skin
    pyoderma or skin infections myxedema
    Reproductive Disorders
    infertility prolonged interestrus interval
    lack of libido absence of heat cycles
    testicular atrophy silent heats
    hypospermia pseudopregnancy
    aspermia weak, dying or stillborn pups
    Cardiac Abnormalities slow heart rate (bradycardia)
    cardiac arrhythmias
    Gastrointestinal Disorders
    Hematologic Disorders
    bone marrow failure
    low red blood cells (anemia), white blood cells, platelets
    Ocular Diseases
    corneal lipid deposits corneal ulceration
    uveitis keratoconjunctivitis sicca or dry eye
    infections of eyelid glands Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada syndrome - (Meibomian gland)
    Other Associated Disorders
    IgA deficiency loss of smell (dysosmia)
    loss of taste glycosuria
    other endocrinopathies chronic active hepatitis

More Thyroid information can be found HERE

Research into Hypothyroidism as performed by clinical laboratories is ongoing.

The umbilical hernia is the most common type of hernia found in Basenji puppies


Umbilical hernias are quite common in Basenjis and are not a serious concern unless quite large. An umbilical hernia is usually a portion of fat which protrudes through an incompletely closed umbilical ring (belly button). In most cases umbilical hernias are small and reduce as the puppy grows. Generally, by the time the pup is six months old the umbilical hernia will shrink and disappear on its own especially if the owner gently presses it back in with their finger or thumb repeatedly. In severe cases, the intestinal lining may protrude which can cause an intestinal blockage. In most cases the umbilical ring will eventually close, leaving a small lump of fatty tissue for a belly button. When lifting a puppy with an umbilical hernia a hand should be placed under its tummy for support.

If the hernia itself should appear red or inflamed, seek immediate medical attention. If the hernia should fail to close by one year of age and is large, it should be surgically repaired. If it is not large and there is no change, it should not present a problem & a couple of stitches by the vet when the puppy is neutered is all that is required.

PPM is very common in Basenji puppies but can lesssen with age


Persistent Pupillary Membrane is NOT life threatening and is very common in Basenjis so should be considered when planning a breeding programme. During foetal development, a fibrovascular tissue, the Pupillary Membrane, forms a layer across the front of the eye to form a blood supply to nourish the developing lens.  Normally this temporary membrane deteriorates and is completely gone by the time the puppy is 14 days old. When it does not deteriorate completely by 14 days of age, it is known as Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM).
This condition is not progressive and does not require any treatment.
Iris to Iris strands of PPM generally cause no problems and may persist for several months before disappearing altogether. Iris sheets however can lead to blindness and if the ppm are attached to the cornea or lens the remaining strands may eventually lead to cataracts.

Examination for PPM should be done by a veterinary ophthalmologist through the use of a 'slit lamp' exam when the puppy is 2-4 months of age.

Coloboma is the complete or partial absence of part of the eye


Coloboma is the complete or partial absence of part of the eye, usually the optic nerve disk in Basenjis. This can sometimes be associated with severe PPM. Dogs affected by Coloboma should not be bred since the mode of inheritance is not yet understood. Some Basenjis have optic nerves that are more deeply cupped than other breeds so a second opinion from an Opthamologist that is familiar with Basenji eyes is recommended if there is any doubt.