The Rhodesian Ridgeback (so called because of the ridge of hair growing the wrong way down its spine) is a large, powerful and speedy dog. He was once a hunting dog and guard dog. He is typically loyal and protective of his family but needs firm and experienced handling. He also needs to live in a house with a garden and should have plenty of energetic exercsie. His coat is short and needs grooming once a week. Average lifespan 9 years.
Inbreeding Coefficient - COI
(Should be as low as possible)
The UK Kennel Club breed average COI is 5.9% - see 'A Beginners Guide to COI'
Effective Population Size - EPSTBC
EPS is a measure of how many individuals are contributing genetically to a breed population. It is a measure of the size of the gene pool in a breed. Lower than 100 is considered critical by conservationists and below 50 brings a breed close to extinction. For more information see the Kennel Club article.
Health and Welfare Problems due to Conformation
(Body shape and physical characteristics)
- The ridge along the spine of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is an abnormality and associated with Dermoid sinus (a tubular indentation of the skin over the spine – these can run deep into the tissues and lead to infection, serious disease and pain)
- Bloat/Torsion (stomach fills with air and can twist, causing intense pain and requiring urgent vet treatment – common in deep chested breeds)
- Hip dysplasia (abnormality of the hip joints causing pain and disability): breed mean score 8.4 (parents should be lower)
- Elbow dysplasia (abnormality of the elbow joint causing pain and disability): score ideally O:0
Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) are now available for Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia:
DNA Tests Available
Parents should be tested for:
Degenerative myelopathy (CDRM) (degenerative disease of the spinal cord, causing weakness and paralysis).
Unofficial (Breed Club) Schemes
- Dermoid sinus check (puppies)
- Bitches under 2 years not to produce litter
- Bitches not to produce more than 3 litters in their lifetime
- Bitches not to produce more than 1 litter within a 12 month period
Ask the breeder to show you the certificates for the above tests/screening for both parents. If any of the above tests have not been considered necessary by the breeder (and there may be good reasons), ask her to explain why.
Other Diseases Reported
(For which there are currently no genetic or screening tests for sire or dam)
- Atopy (hypersensitivity to pollen and other protein particles – causes intense itching)
- Panosteitis (bone inflammation)
- Onychodystrophy (acute claw disease which leads to loss of claws)
- Zinc responsive dermatosis
- Soft tissue cancers (fibroma, mast cell tumour, sarcoma, melanoma)
- Entropion (turning in of eyelid)
- Eversion of the cartilege of the nictitating membrane (turning outwards of the third eyelid)
- Renal dysplasia (failure of development of kidneys, causing severe dehydration and other signs of kidney disease)
- Haemophilia (blood clotting disorder)
- Hypothyroidism (lethargy, changes in coat, obesity)
- Cerebellar cortical abiotrophies (causes wobbliness and tremors)
Ask the breeder about the medical history of the parents, grandparents and great grandparents. Consider carefully whether to purchase a puppy if some of these or other diseases are in the family line.
Ask about the breeder’s policy in cases of serious genetic diseases occurring to your puppy in later life. Good breeders will request to be informed of such events in order to improve future breeding decisions. Some breeders will also agree to contribute towards medical costs or refund purchase price.
You are strongly advised to buy from a breeder who uses (or is prepared to use) the RSPCA / BVA AWF Puppy Contract and Puppy Information Pack (PIP): www.puppycontract.org.uk
You are also advised to buy from a breeder who follows the Dog Breeding Reform Group’s (DBRG) Standard for Dog Breeding: