FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is the average lifespan of a Ridgeback?
The average lifespan for a well looked after ridgeback is about thirteen years.
Would a Ridgeback be good for me when I work full-time?
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are people loving dogs, they need plenty of attention and are not always good when left alone for long periods of time. You should not consider having a dog until you can give it the correct amount of time and attention.
How much exercise do they need?
Ridgebacks are large active dogs and require good daily free-running exercise. Ridgebacks require at least one good hour run per day as adults.
However, as puppies they should be taken out on short walks and as much socialisation as possible, so taking them to places such as friends houses and pubs etc. The more your puppy is exposed as a youngster the better adjusted it will be as an adult.
We do not consider it necessary to have a big house and garden to give a ridgeback a good home, what's essential is the need for outdoor exercise.
What are Ridgebacks like off lead?
Ridgebacks are playful and love to romp and chase anybody and anything that joins in, and they can play very rough, shoulder barging is a speciality. This can be off-putting to other dog owners in the park, and they may think you dog is aggressive, when all he wants to do is play. You need to be quite 'think skinned' to own a Ridgeback and extremely responsible. Recall training is essential.
Ridgebacks are bred to hunt so be prepared that deers and similar wild animals that run are one of their favourite things to chase, be very careful where you walk.
What are Ridgebacks like with livestock? Ridgebacks are a hound therefore, if it runs .. your Ridgeback will chase it. It is their natural instinct. Regardless of breed, most dogs will chase something that runs. If you live in a rural area, ensure you have adequate fencing to keep your dog in and that when you have your dog out with you, supervise him/her accordingly. With correct socialising and training your Ridgeback will not be a liability in a rural area.
What are Ridgebacks like on a average day at home?
In our experience most Ridgebacks think they are unable to live on an ordinary floor or dog bed, and will try every trick in the book to take over the sofa! They are extremely lazy at home and are quite happy to sleep most of the day until its time for their walks in which they could run for hours!
Are Ridgebacks good with children? Rhodesian Ridgebacks are an intelligent, placid, sensitive, easy going dog and are usually very tolerant of children. Supervision of both the dog and child is always advised regardless of breed. As a general rule children should treat dogs with respect, ie. no teasing nor tormenting and the dog should always have a safe haven, where it can retreat from the child if necessary. You need to establish a firm rule with the child that they are not permitted to go into the dogs personal space.
Are Ridgebacks good with other dogs and cats? Absolutely, provided they are socialised and introduced correctly and diligently. It is very important to socialise your dog with other people and animals it will have interaction with.
Are Ridgebacks obedient and easy to train? Being hunting hounds a Ridgeback's inherent nature is to think for themselves and to act independently of command. Obedience training and socialising is ESSENTIAL (with humans and other animals) as they are such a large and powerful dog! They are an highly intelligent breed and will learn quickly. Ensure you do not do more than 10 –20 minutes training at a time, as they will quickly become bored. Keep it short, keep it fun and give them plenty of variety of activities. Being a breed totally driven by food, use their delicious treats for rewarding (positive reinforcement) and always verbally praise them when they have done a desired command/action correctly. Never hit or shout at a Ridgeback as they are a sensitive breed, reprimand them with a harsh voice and be firm with what your asking of them, this is most effective.
What hereditary problem does this breed have and how can I ensure a healthy puppy?
This breed is affected with a condition called Dermoid Sinus. The majority of ridgebacks if not ALL unknowingly CARRY DS within their bloodlines and most breeders will produce a puppy with a DS at some point..... it's becoming more and more common. This is something that is not easily 'bred out' of the breed as so many ridgebacks are carriers even without knowing it, no test is available. This is a condition that can be detected at birth. If left undetected, a sinus can become a very big problem and causes a lot of pain and suffering. What looks like a lump, often along the dog’s neck and shoulder area (but can be on the head or tail), could be a kind of abscess which can sometimes reach into the spinal cord. With today's modern vet techniques when caught early this can be operated on successfully and the puppy will go on to live a perfectly normal life. Make sure that your puppy has been competently and regularly checked by several breed specialists for Dermoid Sinus as most vets are unable to detect these.
Hip dysplasia is another condition. Hip dysplasia is when the hip bones are not fully in the sockets as they should be. This can sometimes cause a problem early on or can show up much later in life, it is very painful and eventually will disable them. Check that the parents and hopefully the grandparents of your puppy have been hip scored, and that they have a low score. The median score for the breed over the last 5years (as published is 7 for both hips, and the range for any one dog is 0-84. The hip score of the parents is printed on the puppy’s KC registration form; if it is not there the parents have not been scored. Breeders can come out with a variety of excuses about why they have not had their dogs checked, but since it is not expensive when you consider the price of a puppy, and can cause great distress to you the owner, as well as your dog, do not accept these excuses.
Elbow dysplasia is a term used to describe three different disease processes associated with the abnormal development of the elbow joint during growth. These processes are referred to as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) of the medial humeral condyle, fragmented medial coronoid process (FCP), and ununited anconeal process (UAP). Although, the cause of elbow dysplasia is not fully understood, it is believed to have mainly genetic and environmental components (such as nutrition, exercise and growth rate). Lameness is usually first noted around 5-6 months of age. Check that the parents and hopefully the grandparents of your puppy have been elbow scored, and that they have a score of 0 (In our opinion, a score of 1 should only be used in very exceptional circumstances). The elbow score of the parents is printed on the puppy’s KC registration form; if it is not there the parents have not been scored. Breeders can come out with a variety of excuses about why they have not had their dogs checked, but since it is not expensive when you consider the price of a puppy, and can cause great distress to you the owner, as well as your dog, do not accept these excuses.
Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP)
The most common form of elbow dysplasia is the fragmented medial coronoid process of the ulna. The elbow joint is made up of the radial head, responsible for 80% of weight bearing, the medial and lateral coronoid processes of the ulna,which bears the remaining 20%. From about 12 to 20 weeks of age the medial coronoid process undergoes ossification (turning cartilage in bone). FCP is the result of unequal growth rates of the radius and ulna, either individually or together. The joint space between the ulna and humerus is narrower than the joint space between the radius and humerus. The resulting uneven pressure on the medial coronoid process can develop cracks or fragments of the coronoid process. Left untreated these loose bits of bone will lead to pain during movement and arthritis.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Osteochrondrosis is a disruption of the cartilage development in large breed, rapidly growing dogs. As normal growth occurs the cartilage on the end of long bones (humerus, femur) must ossify/calcify or turn into bone. If calcification does not occur properly the cartilage becomes thickened and prevents joint fluid from reaching the other cartilage cells underneath. Without joint fluid these cells breakdown, causing cracks in the cartilage. This defective cartilage does not properly adhere to the mature bone that is already present, disrupting the normal gliding motion within the joint causing pain, lameness and eventually arthritis. During movement these cracks can loosen, forming flaps that can break off and float freely within the joint interfering with normal function. OCD of the elbow occurs on the medial condyle of the distal humerus. Clinical signs include intermittent lameness of one or both front legs and pain on manipulation of the elbow. Diagnosis is made through a physical exam and radiographic visualization of a defect on the humeral head. Once lameness is exhibited medical management is usually unsuccessful and most dogs require surgical removal of the cartilage flap.
Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP)
The anconeal process is a large piece of bone located at the growth plate at the top of the ulna. Normally, in growing dogs, this area will close or fuse between 16-24 weeks of age. An ununited anconeal process is the failure of the anconeus to fuse with the ulna. Instability within the joint leads to damage of the articular cartilage, lameness and arthritis of the elbow joint. Radiographs and a physical exam confirm the diagnosis. Surgical treatment is necessary to correct this condition.
The most common signs of the hip include lameness, stiffness, joint pain or swelling, reluctance to exercise or play, or general depression.
Remember whilst they are growing puppies are bound get the odd limp and most suffer from growing pains which are perfectly normal so don't panic unless you have reason to believe its more serious.
Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME)
JME is an inherited disease in the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed. Affected dogs start showing symptoms between the age of 6 weeks and 18 months. Symptoms include frequest myoclonic jerks or twiches especially when the dogs are sleeping or resting. Photo sensitivity has also been noticed in affected dogs. Most affected dogs will also develop more severe generalized and tonic clonic seizures.
Due to the recessive mode of inheritance, affected dogs must inherit two copies of the mutation, one from each parents.
There has only been a test available for this condition since the end of January 2017, this test will tell you if your dog has 0, 1 or 2 copies of the mutation. Clear (N/N) and carriers (N/ JME) are healthy dogs and will not develop the specific symptoms associated with the JME mutation, however carriers should only be bred to clear dogs to avoid having affected puppies.
Please note that there are other forms of epilepsy that cannot be eliminated by this test.
Please ensure at least one parent has been tested clear in any potential pairing and that you have seen proof of this result. Breeders can come up with a variety of excuses about why they have not had their dogs tested, but since it is not expensive when you consider the price of a puppy, and can cause great distress to you the owner, as well as your dog, do not accept these excuses.
Bloat is a serious emergency condition that large chested breeds can be susceptible to, and it is a killer. It is believed to be the second biggest killer of dogs, after cancer. It is an awful condition that is becoming more and more common in Ridgebacks. The correct name for bloat is "Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus" ("GDV"). Bloating of the stomach is often related to swallowed air (although food and fluid can also be present). It usually happens when there's an abnormal accumulation of air, fluid, and/or foam in the stomach. Stress can be a significant contributing factor. Bloat can occur with or without "volvulus" (twisting). As the stomach swells, it may rotate 90° to 360°, twisting between its fixed attachments at the esophagus (food tube) and at the duodenum (the upper intestine). The twisting stomach traps air, food, and water in the stomach. The bloated stomach obstructs veins in the abdomen, leading to low blood pressure, shock, and damage to internal organs. The combined effect can quickly kill a dog and therefore they would need urgent veterinary treatment within 30 minutes of first symptoms.
Possible contributors to bloat are:
Elevated food bowls.
Eating dry foods that contain citric acid as a preservative (the risk is even worse if the owner moistens the food).
Eating dry foods that contain fat among the first four ingredients.
Insufficient pancreatic enzymes, such as Trypsin (a pancreatic enzyme present in meat) Dilution of gastric juices necessary for complete digestion by drinking too much water before or after eating.
Eating gas-producing foods (especially soybean products, brewer's yeast, and alfalfa).
Drinking too much water quickly.
Exercise before and especially after eating.
Heredity (Especially having a first-degree relative who has bloated).
Having a deep and narrow chest compared to other dogs of the same breed.
Older dogs/ Big dogs.
Males tend to be more prone to bloat.
Typical symptoms often include some (but not necessarily all) of the following:
Attempts to vomit (usually unsuccessful); may occur every 5-30 minutes
Doesn't act like usual self
Significant anxiety and restlessness
"Hunched up" or "roached up" appearance
Lack of normal gurgling and digestive sounds in the tummy
Bloated abdomen that may feel tight (like a drum)
Pale or off-color gums
May refuse to lie down or even sit down.
We raw feed our dogs, as they would eat in a natural environment, as we believe this definitely minimises the risk of bloat. We also allow at least an hour for eating after and before exercise. We do not use raised food bowls as we feel this is an unnatural eating position for a dog. Touch wood that we never have to experience this awful condition in any of our dogs.
In the case of an emergency Simethicone can be used to relieve the painful symptoms of too much gas in the stomach and intestines but this will not stop the stomach twisting. So the priority is getting to the vet. This information is not intended to replace advice or guidance from veterinarians or other pet care professionals. It is simply being shared as an aid to assist you with your own research on this very serious problem.
Make sure your breeder has done everything possible to prevent breeding any of these health risks into their lines and that their puppies are reared and fed well and given the very best start in life.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) There is now a DNA test available for Degenerative Myelopathy (DM Exon 2) which is a mutation in the SOD1 gene. DM is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 7 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs causing muscle weakness and loss of coordination. These cause a staggering effect that may appear to be arthritis. The dog may drag one or both rear paws when it walks. This dragging can cause the nails of one foot to be worn down. The condition may lead to extensive paralysis of the back legs.
In cooperation with Prof. Dr. Mischke ( Hannover Veterinary School) a UK Testing Lab was able to identify a missense-mutation in exon 7 of the factor IX gene that is responsible for the lack of active factor IX protein in Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs.
Haemophilia B is a sex-linked disorder (x-chromosomal recessive). Male dogs express the disease when they have one mutated x-chromosome. The mutated x-chromosome comes from the bitch. In most cases female dogs are carrier of one mutated x-chromosome without being diseased (conductor). According to Mendel's Law of Inheritance, 50% of the male puppies of a carrier bitch will have the mutated x-chromosome and express the disease and 50% of the female puppies will be healthy carriers (conductors). Female dogs will be diseased when they have two mutated x-chromosomes (one from the mother, one from the father). In that case both, father and mother must have the mutated x-chromosome (e.g. diseased male dog bred to conductor bitch).
There are so many different forms of cancer within dogs as within humans. Just 2-3% of all cancers are inherited. Cancers are mainly formed due to environmental factors, which create tumors, this is why it is so important not to over medicate your dog and feed it the correct foods (RAW!).
A WORD OF CAUTION TO PUPPY BUYERS It has come to the notice of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Clubs that some unscrupulous breeders are passing off Rhodesian Ridgebacks of incorrect colours, as "rare and correct"- please be careful. The correct colours allowed by the breed standard, as defined by The Kennel Club, are Light Wheaten to Red Wheaten and not colours such as black and tan (Doberman colouring) or brindle. Occasionally, due to a recessive genes, silver/grey, blue, black & tan or brindle coloured puppies are born. They should never be shown, never be used in a breeding programme and should be registered as "non standard" colour; their purchase price should reflect this. The Kennel Club recommends that these puppies should have their registration documents endorsed by the breeder accordingly.
Please see: www.ridgebacks.org.uk
INFO@NZAWI.CO.UK EGHAM, SURREY, UK NZAWI RIDGEBACKS 2020 ©