Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Changing seasons, changing coat

"Basenjis don't shed much."
That was one of the supposed perks of basenji life that I looked forward to after having cats for 20 years and the daily brushing, vacuuming and collecting of little balls of hair in every corner of the house.
With my first basenji, Bow, that proved to be true, but it all changed when Shaka and Audrey arrived.
Having lived outdoors most of their life previously and with Audrey arriving a few months after being what I am certain was back yard breeding stock, her coat has been in "transition" over the 11 months since she arrived. Not that I am complaining, but the little daily clean up jobs have been as intense as having to cats. It was clear that her body was adjusting from having lived outside and having delivered puppies, and that meant a coat that has been very much in transition.
When I picked them up at a county animal control shelter last May, my jaw dropped when I saw Audrey who was skin and bones, and her coat was more like a porcupine than a basenji, and her body coat color was three to four shades lighter than her head that was soft and the normal deep, reddish brown of a healthy basenji.
Living inside, getting good diet and exercise, regular brushing and skin and coat supplements have worked slowly to where she now has an even, silky coat that she deserves. I'm curious of any other suggestions others might have for keeping the coat improving as it is now near perfect. Seeing these gradual changes come has been one of the many rewards of rescue.


  1. We do the same thing as you. Coat supplements, good diet, etc. We have one dog with a painted-on coat, one with a single coat and then one that turns into fluff ball twice a year. I think it is just differences in heredity. I've seen all three coats in very well bred, well loved Basenjis. But I always laugh when I see "Basenjis don't shed".

  2. Gregg, I have no suggestions for continuing improvement - sounds like you're doing everything exactly right! - but here is an article that gives a good understanding of the hair coat:

    I was prompted to write it because Ruby's coat was quite heavy and the shedding was driving us crazy! (I actually saved a bag of her cast-off fur. Someday I'm going to find a use for it, LOL.)

    As I point out, my first concern was the possibility that her thyroid function was off. That should always be ruled out, as thyroid function affects much more than skin and fur.

    I'm glad Shaka and Audrey found such a great home!

  3. Thanks for the link, Chey. The other thing I forgot to mention is that she got a flea infection on her neck back in the fall, and the vet had to shave out a big spot to treat it. The infection healed in a few days but her fur took nearly six months to grow back in fully. She would get spots that grew in fast and others that were "bald" for months. Then almost overnight this spring it was back in fully and normal.

  4. Sounds like you're doing everything right! I would also check on the thyroid levels too, just to know and get that out of the way.

    Bowpi came to us with not *terrible* fur, but she was dandruffy and her ear rims were crusty and she was on pretty bad food. We followed the same program, more or less, to get her looking sleek and shiny. Good food, fish oils, they get a little drizzle of olive oil over breakfast too, and regular Zoom Grooming. I don't think I've ever had the need to use more abrasive brushes. The only thing I can think to add to your formula is extra petting. Human hands all over a basenji body seem to do wonders, like these guys were meant for petting! And as their fur becomes softer and shinier, you can't help but pet them more anyway. =)

  5. M.C., your comment reminded me that Ruby's coat was horrible before we switched to a more nutritious brand of food than what she was eating when she came to us -- her fur was so prickly that the idea of sleeping with her was not even considered! But within mere weeks of better nutrition, her coat was suddenly velvet and we couldn't get enough of touching her. Yep, "Welcome to my bed!"