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Subject: rec.pets.dogs: Rhodesian Ridgebacks Breed-FAQ

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:21:59 GMT

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Archive-name: dogs-faq/breeds/ridgebacks Posting-frequency: 30 days URL: http://inet.net/~richard/RR/Usenet/ Last-modified: 27 Feb 1997
======= There are nearly 100 FAQ's available for this group. For a complete listing of these, get the "Complete List of RPD FAQs". This article is posted bimonthly in rec.pets.dogs, and is available via anonymous ftp to rtfm.mit.edu under pub/usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list, via the Web at http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-faqs/lists/faq-list.html, or via email by sending your message to mail-server@rtfm.mit.edu with send usenet/news.answers/dogs-faq/faq-list in the body of the message. This article is Copyright 1996 by the Author(s) listed below. It may be freely distributed on the Internet in its entirety without alteration provided that this copyright notice is not removed. It may NOT reside at another website (use links, please) other than the URL listed above without the permission of the Author(s). This article may not be sold for profit nor incorporated in other documents without he Author(s)'s permission and is provided "as is" without express or implied warranty. ========== Rhodesian Ridgebacks _________________________________________________________________ Note: This is an unofficial document about Ridgebacks. The official Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS) Information packet can be found on line at http://rrcus.org/ _________________________________________________________________ Table of Contents * Characteristics and Temperament * Frequently Asked Questions * Description (Official Standard) * Recognized * History * Special Medical Problems * References + Books + Publications + Email list for owners + Breed Rescue Organizations + Breeders + Breed Clubs * Selected Other WWW Links of Interest * Sources and Authors of This Document _________________________________________________________________ Characteristics and Temperament The Rhodesian Ridgeback, sometimes referred to as the African Lion Hound, is a native of South Africa. Ridgebacks are sturdy, low-maintenance, short-haired dogs, bred by Boer farmers for two purposes: hunting lions and staying home with the family while other members of the household were out hunting or farming. The breed is a very good people dog, bonding well to a family if introduced into the family in the first 4-5 years of the dog's life. Ridgebacks are usually quite gentle with their family and with people their masters introduce to them but are great watchdogs if people they don't know appear or sounds they don't understand occur around their home. Ridgebacks are very smart, responsive, and trainable. They can easily master the basics of good canine citizenship: down, stay, come, no jump, quiet. They are, like many hounds, independent thinkers. This means that they are not traditionally seen competing for advanced obedience titles (though some Ridgebacks each year DO get their UD titles). Because they are large and intelligent, some obedience training is necessary to keep them under control and avoid their becoming a nuisance. _________________________________________________________________ Frequently Asked Questions _How is the Ridgeback around children? Other pets? As a watchdog?_ The Ridgeback is an extremely tolerant, excellent companion for children, able to amiably withstand a great deal of abuse from even the smallest of toddlers. However, no child should be left unsupervised around any dog, as either may hurt the other, even unintentionally. And due to its large size, younger and more excitable Ridgebacks may knock smaller children over by accident. The Ridgeback is a gregarious animal, enjoying the company of other dogs. Beware of having several male dogs -- this can lead to dominance struggles (as is true with several males of many breeds). They can be good with cats if brought up with them, but fiercely effective in defending their territory from stray dogs and cats. The Ridgeback is an excellent natural watchdog and family protector, requiring only that the owner has control over it. _Are they noisy? Do they have any bad habits?_ Ridgebacks tend to bark only when there is something worthwhile to bark at (unless one has fallen into bad habits out of boredom). They are very athletic, easily able to clear high fences unless the owner has taken proper precautions to see that this does not occur. Proficient swimmers, they can be an annoyance if the owner does not want them in the pool! They are not usually nuisance diggers, but can create large pits to escape summer heat if left out of doors. A Ridgeback can become a roamer out of boredom, often falling victim to automobiles, so it is important to have a properly fenced yard. _Is the Ridgeback a good house-dog?_ The Ridgeback is an extremely clean dog with little odor, and minimal shedding due to the short coat. In general, a Ridgeback kept indoors sheds a little all year round, whereas an outside one will experience seasonal shedding. They do not drool, except in anticipation of food. They are generally easy to housetrain. They will take over the furniture unless their owners discourage this habit from puppyhood. A happily wagging tail will easily clear off low coffee tables. _Are there any special feeding problems?_ Most Ridgebacks would have to be dead before refusing to eat! They can drool quite a bit when their food is being prepared. They will inhale their food enthusiastically. Consequently, Ridgeback owners need to monitor their dogs' weight and cut back to prevent obesity. Sometimes a good cupboard lock is needed to keep a clever dog from helping itself. _How much exercise does a Ridgeback need?_ Like any medium-large dog, Ridgebacks need exercise--a daily romp in the back yard or park and a couple of longer trips to the park per week should be sufficient. More would be better, but Ridgebacks do adapt to their people. _Are they energetic or hyper?_ A young Ridgeback is a very energetic fellow. But as Ridgebacks mature, most of them become much more laid back. One author calls them the "kings of dozing." Some say that a mature Ridgeback is happiest when either running flat out across a field or flat out asleep at your feet. In general, they mature into lovely calm dogs that do well when raised with children and other pets. _Where does that ridge on their back come from?_ The Rhodesian Ridgeback's ancestry includes a dog native to Southern Africa--a tribal dog, a companion and a hunter, with a ridge of hair growing backwards down its back. European settlers admired the hunting ability and temperament of the native dogs and bred them with the dogs they had imported from Europe and North African colonies. They found that the "cross-breeds" that had the ridge had the most desirable hunting ability and temperaments and began to breed specifically for the ridge. And thus the breed was born. _Were they really used to hunt lions?_ Yes, when the breed was imported to Rhodesia, the big game hunters of the time found them to be excellent hunters and used them to hunt lions. They were found to be the only breed of dog that could, in a pack, keep a lion at bay for the hunter, and live. _Are they good for general hunting?_ Yes. The Ridgeback has been used successfully in hunting bobcat, mountain lion, bear, coyote, deer, wild boar and raccoon in the US, Canada, and Mexico. There have also been reports of Ridgebacks having been train to point upland game and retrieve game and fowl, but their true talent lies in cornering the prey for the hunter to finish off. _________________________________________________________________ Description OFFICIAL STANDARD FOR THE RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active dog, symmetrical and balanced in outline. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. Of even, dignified temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE A mature Ridgeback should be symmetrical in outline, slightly longer than tall but well balanced. Dogs - 25 to 27 inches in height; Bitches - 24 to 26 inches in height. Desirable weight: Dogs - 85 pounds; Bitches - 70 pounds. HEAD Should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkles when in repose. The stop should be reasonable well defined. EYES Should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling with intelligent expression, their color harmonizing with the color of the dog. MUZZLE Should be long, deep and powerful. The lips clean, closely fitting the jaws. NOSE Should be black, brown or liver, in keeping with the color of the dog. No other colored nose is permissible. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown or liver nose with amber eyes. BITE Jaws level and strong with well-developed teeth, especially the canines or holders. Scissors bite preferred. NECK, TOPLINE, BODY The neck should be fairly strong and free from throatiness. The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops (which would indicate want of speed). The back is powerful and firm with strong loins which are muscular and slightly arched. The tail should be strong at the insertion and generally tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should not be inserted too high or too low and should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled or gay. FOREQUARTERS The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed. Elbows close to the body. The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong, and heavy in bone. The feet should be compact with well-arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads. Dewclaws may be removed. HINDQUARTERS In the hind legs, the muscles should be clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet as in front. COAT Should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither wooly nor silky. COLOR Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes permissible but excessive white there, on the belly or above the toes is undesirable. RIDGE The hallmark of this breed is the ridge on the back which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. The ridge should be clearly defined, tapering and symmetrical. It should start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to a point between the prominence of the hips and should contain two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite each other. The lower edge of the crowns (whorls) should not extend further down the ridge than one third of the ridge. GAIT At the trot, the back is held level and the stride is efficient, long, free and unrestricted. Reach and drive expressing a perfect balance between power and elegance. At the chase, the Ridgeback demonstrates great coursing ability and endurance. TEMPERAMENT Dignified and even tempered. Reserved with strangers. SCALE OF POINTS General appearance, size, symmetry and balance 20 Ridge 20 Head 15 Legs and Feet 15 Neck and Shoulders 10 Body, Back, Chest, and Loin 10 Coat and Color 5 Tail 5 TOTAL 100 Disqualification: Ridgelessness Approved by The American Kennel Club and effective September 30, 1992 Recognized by American Kennel Club Canadian Kennel Club FCI Kennel Club of Great Britain Kennel Union of Southern Africa _________________________________________________________________ History The Dutch, German, and Hugenout people who emigrated to South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries brought with them Danes, Mastiffs, Greyhounds, Bloodhounds, Terriers, and other breeds. Then, in 1707, European immigration to South Africa was closed for a hundred years. The native Hottentots had a hunting dog that was half wild with a ridge on the back formed by the hair growing forward. The only other known dog which has such a ridge is found on the island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Siam. It is unclear whether ridged dogs appeared spontaneously in two parts of the world or if they first appeared in Africa and then, through commerce, moved with humans to Asia. Interbreeding between these dogs and those of the settlers eventually established the foundation stock for the present day Ridgeback. The abilities the farmers were looking for in their dogs included: flushing a few partridge, pulling down a wounded buck, and guarding the farm from maurading animals and prowlers at night. They needed to be shorthaired to withstand ticks, able to go 24 hours without water, and hold up under the dramatic day-night temperatures on the veldt. In 1877, Reverend Charles Helm introduced two Ridgebacks into Rhodesia where the big game hunters found them outstanding in the sport of hunting lions on horseback. They raised and bred these dogs with an appreciation of their exceptional hunting qualities. In 1922, a group of Rhodesian breeders set up a standard for the Ridgebacks that has remained virtually unchanged since. No one knows when the Ridgeback was first brought into the United States. A few were imported prior to 1940, possibly as early as 1912. However, after World War II, quite a large number were imported, not only into the US, but also into England and Canada. The Ridgeback was admitted into AKC registry in 1955. _________________________________________________________________ Special Medical Problems Hip dysplasia Ridgebacks can come down with hip dysplasia. As in many breeds, serious efforts are under way to eliminate the problem. The most common tool is by rigorously certifying breeding stock by OFA, Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. Good statistics are hard to find, but according to some, there are fewer cases than Saint Bernards and many giant breeds as well as medium sized breeds such as Golden Retrievers and German Shepards. This is partly because of the relative rarity of the breed. You should make sure that both dam and sire of your prospective puppy have their OFA certification. Dermoid Sinus This condition occurs when the skin is not completely closed along the dog's spine. While hard to detect at puppyhood, it can be done by those experienced in the breed. If dormant, this condition causes no problems and the dog can lead a normal life. Unfortunately these sinuses or cysts don't often remain dormant. They become inflammed and infected. The surgery to correct the sinus is expensive, painful and frequently not successful. Most breeders euthanize puppies with demoids as soon as they are detected. This condition is fairly rare. Ridgelessness Ridgelessness is not a "medical problem" per se, but a genetic fault. That is, some Rhodesian Ridgebacks are born without ridges. Again, many breeders euthanize these puppies, a subject of some controversy. A puppy's ridge is very visible when he or she is whelped, but may sometimes become harder to judge for estimating "show potential" for the puppy's first several weeks of life (i.e., the ridge remains clearly visible but the "crowns" or "whorls" may become indistinct for a few weeks). However, the ridge does _not_ disappear and reappear. Further, a Ridgeback's ridge will _not_ develop later in life, so do not believe the breeder that tells you the ridge will "come in later." If you buy a ridgeless puppy or one with a short or imperfect ridge, you should expect a lower price and a spay/neuter contract. _________________________________________________________________ References Books _Guide to the Rhodesian Ridgeback_. Published by the RRC of Great Britain. Write to RRC of Great Britain, Miss P. Barber, 22 Queensway, Old Dalby, Melthon Mowbray, Leicestershire LE14 3QH, England. Hawley, T.C. _The Rhodesian Ridgeback, The Origin, History & Standard_. Hardback. $25 plus postage. Check or money order payable to Natalie D. Carlton, 5630 N. Abington Road, Tucson, AZ 85743. Helgesen, David H. _The Definitive Rhodesian Ridgeback_. 2nd edition, paperback. DH Helgesen, Box 141, Pitts Meadows, Brisish Columbia V341AO, Canada. Murray, J.N. _The Rhodesian Ridgeback 1924 to 1974_. Hardback. Available from the author, 5 Melbourne Road, YEA, Victoria 3717, Australia. Write for cost and postage. Nicholson, Peter and Janet Parker. _The Complete Rhodesian Ridgeback_. Howell Book House. ISBN 0-87605-295-2. 1991. Woodrow, Ann. _Rhodesian Ridgeback_. Paperback. Write Mrs. J.G. Woodgrow, Crookswood Std Farm, Horsleys Green, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire HP14 3XB, England. Publications _The RRCUS Annual of Champions_ (a club sanctioned publication). Years 1965 to 1988 available from Joe Berger, 12564 Huston St., North Hollywood, CA 91607. Write for availability and prices. _The Ridgeback_: Bi-monthly official publication of the RRCUS. Available only with membership. Pamphlets and RRCUS membership applications are available from RRCUS (25198 E. 19th Street, San Bernardino, CA, 92404) Send $2.00 to receive the following: * Breeder Directory including Code of Ethics * 10 page information packet including + History of the Breed + Dermoid Sinus + Frequently Asked Questions + Puppy buying tips + Hip Dysplasia _Rhodesian Ridgeback Quarterly_ (an independent publication). Four issues per year. RRQ, 4401 Zephyr St. Wheat Ridge, CO 80033-3299. _________________________________________________________________ Email list for owners There is an email list for owners, future owners, former owners, and other fanciers of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This list is maintained by Richard Gordon, and has been in existence, in one form or another for about 4 years. On Februaru 13, 1997, it moved to pobox.com To join, send email to majordomo@majordomo.pobox.com with subscribe rr-folk end as the first two lines in the body of the message. As of February 1997, there are over 580 subscribers to this mailing list. _________________________________________________________________ Breed Rescue Organizations Your best bet is to contact the regional Rescue coordinator for your state. RRCUS Rescue Regional Coordinators New England (NERRC) (Maine, Mass., Vermont, N.H., Conn. R.I.) Kathy Milby (401) 397-5919 Mid-Atlantic (GVFRRC) (N.J., DE, Eastern PA & Southern N.Y.) Edna Gilbert (609) 384-2903 Capital (MD, VA., West Va, & DC) Melody Himel (804) 678-7378 Southeast (N.C., S.C., Georgia & Fla.) Barbara Busch (704) 754-5961 Erie (RRAWNY) (Western & Northern N.Y., Western PA.) Kelly Byers (716) 434-5372 Mideast (Raisin River) (Michigan, Ind., Ohio & Kentucky) Lina Gonterman (517) 522-3308 Midwest (MWRRC) (Minn., Wis., Iowa, Ill., Missouri) Barbara Sawyer-Brown (773) 281-5569 Great Plains (N.D., S.D., Neb., Kansas) Karyn Finn (605) 692-7244 finnk@mg.sdstate.edu Southwest (RRCOT, TVRRCOT, Dallas) (Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana) Tami Satterfield (817) 485-9465 South Central (Tenn. Ala., Miss., Ark.) Sandra Fikes (205) 639-0969 Northern Rockies (Colorado Ridgebacks) (Northern Col., Montana, Wyoming) Jeanne Nixon (303) 665-0642 askeron@aol.com Southern Rockies (Rocky Mt.) (Southern Col, New Mex., Utah) Patty Olney (719) 593-0777 olney@ix.netcom.com Northwest (NWRRC) (Wash., Oregon, Idaho) Erin Walker (206) 925-2296 Far West (OCRRC & SDRRC) (Cal, Nev., Arizona) Elizabeth Akers (510) 825-9258 resqrij@ccnet.com National Chair (and for outside of continental U.S.) Dana Jefferson (302) 454-7598 DJefferson@state.de.us Additional Ridgeback Rescue volunteers are listed in the RRCUS Breeders' Directory. The RRCUS Rescue Packet of Sample Forms and Information Sheets is on line at http://rrcus.org/RESCUE/index.html For further information about Ridgeback Rescue, contact Dana Jefferson, Ph. D., National Rescue Chair (302) 454-7598 or DJefferson@state.de.us. _________________________________________________________________ Breeders * _RRCUS Breeders_: Write to RRCUS, 25198 E. 19th Street, San Bernardino, CA, 92404, and request a copy of the most recent RRCUS Breeder Directory. All breeders listed in this directory have sworn to uphold the RRCUS code of ethics. For $2.00 (to cover the cost of postage and printing), you will receive the breeder's directory and a packet of information about the breed. This packet and breeder's directory are updated every Spring. * It is up to the buyer to ascertain whether or not a particular breeder meets the buyer's standards and needs. * You should feel free to ask a breeder for references. Further, you should expect a responsible breeder, whether a member of RRCUS or not, to exhibit evidence of careful and prudent breeding. + A responsible breeder X-rays the hips of all breeding stock. + A responsible breeder will only use dogs free of hip dysplasia and free of other major health problems as breeding stock. + A responsible breeder will have obtained an OFA certification of clear hips, or an OFA preliminary X-Ray for all breeding stock. (OFA=Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) + A responsible breeder will have you register your puppy with AKC at the time of your purchase. + A responsible breeder will supply you with o your puppy's medical record o a pedigree o an instruction sheet o a small supply of your puppy's current food and water (or instructions where to purchase the puppy's current food) o information about the breed o a guarantee that the dog will be free of hip dysplasia and dermoid sinus and free of vicious propensities if the dog is properly trained and treated. * And be forewarned: A responsible breeder will probably want to determine whether or not you meet his or her standards as a home for a puppy. Just as you may ask a breeder for references, don't be surprised if a breeder asks _you_ for references. _________________________________________________________________ Breed Clubs Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States Office of the Corresponding Secretary P.O. Box 121817 Ft. Worth, TX 76121-1817 (817) 732-3092 Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States Public Information Coordinator 25198 East 19th Street San Bernardino, CA 92404 (909) 381-3064 _________________________________________________________________ Selected Other WWW Links of Interest * Tom Baker's The Visual Ridgeback: http://wintermute.sr.unh.edu/ridgeback/ridgeback.html Tom is recruiting pictures from RR owners for this page. Access the page for details. Also includes links to other RR and canine sites. * Cindy Tittle Moore's rec.pets.dogs FAQ Homepage: http://www.zmall.com/pet_talk/dog-faqs/. The Usenet FAQs include a list of Canine WWW sites, Breed FAQs, Activity FAQs, Kennel Club FAQs, General Canine FAQs, Canine Mailing Lists, and much more. * Terri Watson's Canine Web: http://snapple.cs.washington.edu:600/canine/canine.html An excellent collection of canine material, including the Canine-L mailing list archive, Service Dog Info, Iditarod Info, Vet Info, Lost Dogs, and more. * The RRCUS home page: http://rrcus.org/. Includes links to other RR and canine sites. _________________________________________________________________ Authors and Sources for This Document * Richard Gordon, January 29, 1993, (richard@hounddog.us.udel.edu) * Cindy Tittle Moore, February 15, 1993, (tittle@netcom.com) * David Prager, March 15, 1993, (prager@mdd.comm.mot.com) * Handouts from the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the U.S. Rhodesian Ridgebacks FAQ currently maintained by Richard Gordon, (richard@inte.net) Cindy Tittle Moore, (tittle@netcom.com) Last Update: Jan. 16, 1997