Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Magazine features information, expert articles, and stunning photos from AKC judges, breeders, and owners.
Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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Official Standard of the Rhodesian Ridgeback General Appearance: The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active hound, 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 reasonably 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. Ears - should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head. Muzzle - should be long, deep and powerful. The lips clean, closely fitting the jaws. Clear faced or masked dogs are equally correct and neither is preferred. A clear face with black or brown/liver pigmentation only on nose, lips, and around the eyes, or a masked face with black or brown/liver pigmentation is correct as long as the color is not continuing with a solid mask over the eyes. A darker ear often accompanies the darker masked dog. 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 long. It should be strong, free from throatiness and in balance with the dog. 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 woolly 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. (see muzzle) 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
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edge of the crowns (whorls) should not extend further down the ridge than one third of the ridge. Disqualification - Ridgelessness. Serious Fault - One crown (whorl) or more than two crowns (whorls). 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 15 Ridge 20 Head 15 Legs and Feet 15 Neck and Shoulders 10 Body, Back, Chest and Loin 10 Gait 10 Coat and Color 3 Tail 2 Total 100 Disqualification: Ridgelessness.
Approved January 12, 2010 Effective March 31, 2010
COAT AND PIGMENT COLOR IN THE RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK W heaten is the coat color of Rhodesian Ridgebacks. All shades of wheaten are equally correct, from lighter golds to richer reds. Wheaten is a band- ed or variegated coat, not a solid color. The hair is lighter at the base and darker at the tip. BY MARY LYNNE ELLIOTT Mary Lynne Elliott is the RRCUS Education Committee Chair and an AKC Judge.
Dogs may have masks or be clean-faced. Both are equally correct. A darker mask is often accompanied by a darker ear. The mask should not extend above the eyes, as in a Great Dane. The coat is short, dense, sleek, and glossy. It is neither woolly nor silky. Black hair (or, in the case of brown noses, dark-brown hair) may be interspersed on the neck, head, and chest area, including in a “widow’s peak” or bibbing. Excessive black, including saddles or sabling, is unacceptable. Black hairs should not interfere with the overall wheaten impression of the dog. Black and tan is a historically incorrect pattern. While it is unlikely that a dog with this pattern will enter your ring, it should never be awarded. Instead, it should be excused for lack of merit. Small socks and white on the chest on an otherwise typey, sound dog should not elimi- nate it from consideration. Some Ridgebacks exhibit a pattern of lighter cream-colored coat on the underpinnings, neck, and bottom of jaw. This is acceptable. The correct, round and dark eye gives the breed its intelligent expression. The color of the eyes should harmonize with the color of the dog: This is a reference to skin pigment, not coat color. Black-nosed dogs should have a dark eye (as deep a shade of brown as possible). Yellow eyes are undesirable. The Scale of Points allows 3 points out of 100 to Coat and Color. Emphasis should be placed on the general conformation.
The above was written and approved by our Education Committee to be used in our Judges’ Education Seminars.
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THE RIDGE Demystifying the Ridgeback Judging Assignment T he Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Standard is one of the few remaining stan- dards that utilizes a point system. The “ridge” is worth 20 points out of 100 on this scale. The ridge is the escutcheon, or hallmark, of our breed. Without revisiting too much history, our breed is descended from a native African dog BY DANIELLE SAND
that possessed a ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction on its back. European settlers selectively mixed this indigenous dog with a variety of different breeds to create the modern Ridgeback. The original name of the breed was the African Lion Dog, but it was renamed the Rhodesian Ridgeback to give emphasis to its defining characteristic. Decades of mentoring judges and giving breed seminars has confirmed that many judges are confused by the ridge. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States has an excellent, recently revised PowerPoint presentation with a bounty of illustrations and photographs of ridges. Ridges in our presentation are categorized as: desirable, acceptable, and unacceptable. Ridgelessness is a disqualification; therefore, you will not see these dogs in the show ring. A ridge should contain two symmetrical whorls, or crowns. The ridge should start directly behind the shoulder blades and taper to a point between the hips. Serious faults, which should keep dogs from the show ring, include having only one crown, having more than two crowns, having badly off-set crowns, or having a very short ridge. The whorls of the ridge create a fan, or box, at the top of the ridge; the size of this fan is immaterial. There can be a parting of the hair at the top of this box and this should not be confused as being an extra crown. When adjudicating our breed, make sure the ridge is within the realm of acceptable, and then move on and judge the dog. Picture-perfect ridges may sit atop conformational disasters, and slightly imperfect ridges may grace structurally impressive animals. When evaluating our breed, remember these priorities: 1. Overall Impression—Athletic, Agile, Powerful, Upstanding, Balanced, and Hand- some; 2. Strong Bladed Bone, Oval Not Round; 3. Ridge.
by Leisa Temple
I encourage anyone interested in judging our breed to avail themselves of our official presentation and to also seek out mentoring from RRCUS approved mentors.
by Leisa Temple
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FACING THE RIDGEBACK FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE RING by BARBARA G. RUPERT
F irst of all, before entering any ring, we should be thorough- ly familiar with procedure. Once we have mastered that, we can concentrate on the specimen before us rather than being side tracked by anything else. So, we look at the outline first: bal- ance, symmetry, moderate head—nei- ther heavy and Mastiff like nor narrow or Greyhound-like. Underjaw visible. Strong, long neck with smooth shoul- ders blending into body, level back con- tinuing with a slight rise over the loin (which one should feel upon examina- tion) falling gently away over the croup ending with a well-set, tapering tail without kinks or excessive curl. Underline is not exaggerated, Her- ring gutted or Greyhound-like and the hindquarters should be rather broad and powerful (first and second thigh well developed). As we examine our Ridgeback, remember to always approach from the front, not rear—after all, this is a Sighthound, he is aloof with strangers and he must see you. We want to find intelligent expression: round, dark eyes
harmonizing with the color of the over- all dog. That means black nosed dogs should have dark brown eyes and liver/ brown nosed dogs should have amber eyes, again harmonizing with pigmenta- tion. Ears should frame the head. Black or dark brown muzzle in a liver/brown nosed dog is equally acceptable and so are clear faced dogs. We want to look for that ever elud- ing shoulder layback and shoulder and return upper arm being close to equal in length. The ideal ridge starts close behind the shoulder blades, contains two whorls opposite each other and tapers close to the pin bone. The thorax should be capacious, giving lung room and should have plenty of length before reaching a relatively short loin without cramping his hind-quarters. The dog should appear off-square— not rectangular (slightly longer than tall). The croup is moderate with a smooth tail insertion. The tail is tapered, without kinks or excessive curls, reach- es to the hock and is never carried in a gay fashion while on the move. Rear quarters are broad, strong, mus- cular and inner thigh is well developed.
BISS GCh. La Fleur’s Big Mack Attack (my choice at the 2012 Specialty).
Tahari's Son of Anarchy Winner's Dog at the 2012 National All illustrations are by Leisa Temple are the sole property of RRCUS and no one, other than RRCUS or the author is authorized to photograph, copy, reprint, distribute and/or disseminate them in any form. Copyright pending.
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“RIDGEBACKS WERE NOT BRED TO KILL LIONS BUT RATHER TO HAVE THEM TRACK THEM.”
physical soundness as well as character and showmanship. An untypical Ridgeback that is sound is useless. A typical Ridgeback that is sound is priceless! ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Barbara Rupert’s interest in dogs began in her native Germany where her parents raised Dachshunds. After marriage in the United States, the first family dog
The Ridgeback must possess good feet with thick pads, sloping, strong pas- terns for shock absorbing—splayed or flat feet are taboo in this breed. Color should be immaterial as long as it falls within the light wheaten to red wheaten color. While white should be kept to a minimum, white sox on an otherwise quality Ridgeback is a nonfunctional fault and is to be judged accordingly. The same goes for some occasional black bibbing. There should be no preference to overall color. While there are no size disqualifica- tions, we need to reward the dog that is close to the prescribed standard. The gait needs to be smooth and effortless, exhibiting power, strength coupled with agility and covering ground efficiently. Topline must remain constant, while legs converge toward single tracking at a fast trot. True breed type demonstrates an effortless stride enabling the dog to go all day. We must try to put emphasis on the positive points rather than fault judge and not dwell on the short comings. The standard is the blueprint, the breeder is the builder and the judge is the building inspector. We must also recognize that success in the breed depends to a large extent on proportion, balance symme- try coupled with motivation, tempera- ment, character and showmanship. Ridgebacks were not bred to kill lions but, rather, to have them track them. keep them at bay and wait for the hunter to come and do his job. The gait of the Ridgeback is methodical, smooth, never cumbersome or racy. He is confident, alert, proud, maintaining an enthusiastic attitude without being exaggerated in body or obnoxious in spirit. The winning combination is a team between dog and handler. The out-standing Ridgeback in the show ring possesses all of the above men- tioned attributes including mental and
GCh. Oakhurst Fruit of the Vine (Fiona) # 1 Ridgeback for 2011
was a Smooth Standard Dachshund. Rhodesian Ridgebacks followed in 1970 and Whippets were added a few years later but Ridgebacks remain the primary breed. Careful breeding under the Oakhurst prefix produced gratifying results in the whelping box and show ring. Oakhurst’s breeding program is widely recognized for both outstanding conformation and tem- perament, having produced close to 100 champions with many achieving the highest honors, including 10 All- Breed Bests In Show, three dogs that earned #1 Ridgeback in the country. The most recent one, a bitch for 2011. Barbara has been chairman of the Standard’s and Elaboration Commit- tee and serves on the Education Com- mittee for the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the US. She has developed and presents Ridgeback Seminars through- out the US Barbara’s AKC judging license was granted in 1985 and is cur- rently approved for the Hound Group and Best in Show. Her assignments have taken her all over the world including All Breed show assignments in Australia, Canada, Mainland Chi- na, Hong Kong, Macau, Russia and South Africa. Her most memorable assignments included judging the Ridgeback National in the US twice (most recently in 2012), the World Congress in the Netherlands as well as the Australian, French, Swedish and Brazilian Nationals. Life after dogs include grandchildren, classical and jazz music, reading, gar- dening, cooking and friends who like to share new adventures. Barbara and her husband Dick share their south- ern California home with several Ridgebacks, a Miniature Wirehaired Dachshund and a co-owned Whippet.
7-year-old male: BIS GCh Oakhurst Gamble on Me.
GCH Oakhurst Rocky Road (Rocco)
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THE RIDGEBACK CLASSIFICATION CONUNDRUM—STILL...
by NANCY FAVILLE Diablo Rhodesian Ridgebacks
W e recently attended the Westminster Kennel Club dog show in New York City. Although the breed competition has moved to the West side piers, the Groups are still held at Madison Square Garden; the same capacious area, purple and gold furnishings on green car- pet. Yet, even here, even in this ample sized venue some Groups appear crowded. With the 31 entries present for Hound, Terrier and Sporting Groups, each, dogs seemed nearly nose to tail in the ring. It doesn’t take long to connect the dots. You have to think back to the fairly recent dog show past. Given the continuous growth of the seven Groups due to recogni- tion of breeds from the Miscellaneous class, how long will it be before the AKC resur- rects the concept of breed realignment? In October 2007, the AKC formed a committee to explore ways to change the group structure and the breeds assigned to each group to better manage group size. An interesting, initial proposal was made in 2009, but sent back to a reformed to com- mittee to be redrafted based on new infor- mation. In November 2011 a new proposal was accepted by the AKC Board of Direc- tors. In March 2012, however, AKC dele- gates defeated the Realignment Committee recommendation to split the existing seven groups into 11, even though the majority of delegates supported the concept. If an addi- tional 16 delegates had voted in favor of the recommendation—a two-thirds vote is required; this last proposal would be a done deal. And Ridgebacks, based on input from the national club supported by a polling of its members, would have been categorized as Sight Hounds. At the time (2009-2011), I was one of the more than willing American (this is key) Ridgeback fanciers willing to whole- heartedly support the notion that a Ridge- back was indeed a Sight Hound. It was the popular position and the classification was supported by many, if not all, of the
American Ridgeback mentors who have been associated with the breed since the Ridgeback was introduced in the United States in 1950, or thereabouts. Prior to the introduction of the world- wide web in 1991—some 24 years ago— Ridgeback breeders and owners relied on limited resources for information about their dogs. Just about everyone you knew had two books: Th e Complete Rhodesian Ridgeback by Peter Nicholson and Janet Parker and the less common Th e Rhodesian Ridgeback— Th e Origin, History and Stan- dard by T. C. Hawley. Th ese two books were commonly used by Ridgeback breed- ers to develop historic breed information articles that they could share with Ridge- back owners and prospective puppy owners on their newly developed websites. Many of us relied on those concise summaries for our basic education of the Ridgeback’s developmental history. Once home computers became com- mon place, the web took over as the go- to source for newly published Ridgeback information. One of the best, most com- prehensive sites for the Ridgeback has become Wikipedia, a collaborative website whose content can be edited by anyone who has access to it. Th is wiki is heav- ily influenced by information from the Lamarade Perro website (possibly reliant on Hawley and Nicholson/Parker), Ken- nel Clubs from various nations, scientific studies and inclusive of current Ridgeback author Denise Flaim. Information from Wikipedia does not bear a “contested information” warning in its header and has been copied, verbatim, by at least one regional Ridgeback club on the history
Bull Dog, Pointer, Irish Terrier, Airedale Terrier, Collie, Great Dane, Masti ff and maybe some Deerhound, Bloodhound and Saluki, if everything you read is true. While Ridgebacks were first admitted to the AKC as part of the Hound Group in 1955, they were first registered with the South African Kennel Union (SAKU) by Ridgeback pioneers, Francis Barnes in par- ticular, as a “gundog, with a breed stan- dard based on the Dalmatian, the ultimate endurance “trotter”. Th e Ridgeback wiki includes a section entitled “Classification Conundrum”. Here you can learn that the rationale behind that “gundog classification; it was the choice that made sense at the time given the definition of labels available. Th en, it reads, “Over time the culturally perceived meanings of the group labels had changed to those closer to their modern meanings and the Union (SAKU) eventually became a federated member of the Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)—the largest canine organization in the world, then and now—and therefore adopted its group categorization system. By 1940, Barnes had resigned from the Rhodesian Parent Club and prompted by the lobby- ing of a newer generation of leadership within the Rhodesian Parent Club, in the 1950s, the breed’s group classification was changed from “Gundog” to “Hound”. 1 Most generally, Hounds are defined as dogs bred to hunt animals. Th e short ver- sion of the five theories identified in this wiki are as follows: • Scent Hound — Th is theory arises from form and ability of Ridgebacks as athletic hunting dogs who traveled great distances over the varied southern African landscape guided primarily by scent. Th is functionality required an e ffi cient gait, endurance and body sub- stance not found in the Sight Hounds of northern Africa. 1. The Rhodesian Ridgeback – Wiki, http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodesian_Ridgeback
page of their website. CLASSIFICATION
Ridgebacks have a complex origin. Th ey are a 19th century mash-up of a semi-domesticated Hottentot African dog (most likely the Ridged Africanis) with a variety of European breeds: Greyhound,
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• Sight Hounds — Th is theory is founded on the hunting characteristics and Sight Hound breeds used by early Ridgeback pioneers to develop the dog. Classifica- tion as a Sight Hound is further sup- ported by the Ridgeback’s success in most lure coursing events. • Cur-Dog — Th ese dogs are a United Kennel Club classification within Scent Hounds, bred as hunting and livestock dogs by pioneering peoples who needed a dog protective of family and farm. Cur Dogs, inconsistent with other Hounds, are said to hunt using all of their senses—hearing, sight and scent as the situation demands. • Wagon Dog — Th is theory introduced at the Ridgeback World Congress in Ireland in 2008 and supported by the Hunting Ridgeback Association, is based on the breed’s functional history as a versatile hunting and ox-wagon dog, like the Dalmatian. Th is theory aligns itself with the FCI group clas- sification 6.3, a very special designa- tion within Scent Hounds, specially reserved for these hunting/wagon dogs. To date only the Dalmatian and Rho- desian Ridgeback are classified as such. • Ridged Primitive — Th is theory classi- fies the Ridgeback based on its descent from primitive type hunting dogs, spe- cifically a ridged dog. If you keep an open mind, you can see the merit in many of these classification arguments. If I had studied this informa- tion in 2009-2011, it is not likely that I would have supported the notion that a Ridgeback is a Sight Hound at the time. MOST PEOPLE SAY— WHO CARES? Modernly, most Ridgebacks are pets, companion dogs with great versatility that will, most often, readily participate in the wide range of activities important to their families. What happens at a dog show, even if they own a show dog, is part of another life, which for the most part does not affect them. So, truthful- ly, most folks don’t care how a Ridge- back is classified and they shouldn’t. They want the Ridgeback dog’s bundle of attributes, period. Should breeders care about group clas- sification? From a purist’s stand-point, yes. And if performance events are your thing, being recognized by ASFA as a Sight Hound allows Ridgebacks to course. But current classification as a Hound, in gen- eral, is satisfactory to most.
From the exhibitors perspective this may be a touchier subject if body type within the Hound Group was not reasonably diverse. For now, the Ridge- back fits in, well enough. Hound Group competitors know, however, that the extreme hounds tend to be more success- ful; Greyhounds, Afghans, Elkhounds and Bloodhounds have placed first in the Hound Group at Westminster, for exam- ple, most frequently. As a Ridgeback exhibitor, at the Group level, is where my concern about Sight Hound classification rushes in most imme- diately, followed by significant concerns as a breeder. “FROM THE EXHIBITORS PERSPECTIVE THIS MAY BE A TOUCHIER SUBJECT IF BODY TYPE WITHIN THE HOUND GROUP WAS NOT REASONABLY DIVERSE.” As it turns out, I am not the only Ridge- back breeder/exhibitor to have concern about the Ridgeback being classified as a Sight Hound. Orit Nevo, a well-respected Ridge- back breeder and FCI International judge from Israel, presented a similar concern at the Ridgeback World Congress in Canada in 2012. Apparently, many of the delegates from Europe and Africa had similar concerns about this same, seemingly American issue. WOULD CLASSIFYING A RIDGEBACK AS A SIGHT HOUND CAUSE CHANGE IN RIDGEBACK TYPE? You can say, of course not! Th e Ridge- backs we breed are expected to have par- ticular physical attributes as outlined in the Ridgeback standard. Th ere is or was a purpose to all of it: the sturdy form needed to engage game and the trot appropriate for endurance. Th e Ridgeback was intend- ed to exhibit a highly e ffi cient stride and
for that it needs a moderate, multi-purpose build, balanced in front and rear angula- tion. Boom, that’s it. So put Ridgebacks in the Sight Hound Group in conformation. Will the Ridge- back look out of type? Sight Hounds are structurally di ff erent than the Ridgeback. Th ink about the Greyhound, Afghan, Saluki and Whippet. Generally, Sight Hounds are leaner, longer-legged dogs, finer in bone, with aerodynamic heads and narrow jaws. Th e logical guess is yes, they will look out of type and so will the Irish Wolf- hound and Basenji. Conformation judging is just 100 plus years old. With time, when people start to forget the original purpose and nature of the Ridgeback, is there a danger that Ridgeback breeders will knowingly or intentionally let Ridgeback type drift toward the Sight Hound “benchmark” look? Specifically breeding for longer, leg- gier and lighter boned dogs? For the pur- pose of Group wins and Best of Breed competition? I don’t think so and this is where I disagree with Orit Nevo. IS THIS ALL FAR-FETCHED? I think it could happen more insidi- ously. It could occur in an odd, Darwin- ian “survival of the fittest” manner and very slowly, where dogs, naturally lon- ger, lighter boned and leggier, currently disfavored in Breed and Group compe- tition, gradually becoming the success- ful Group winner and then gradually the popular sire for unwitting breeders. Unintentionally, all of it; possibly chang- ing the breed, forever. Sources 1. Susan Chaney, “AKC Delegates Say ‘No’ to Group Realignment”, bestinshowdaily.com, March 2012 2. Orit Nevo, “Trotter vs. Galloper: Where Is The Ridgeback Heading?”, Canadian Rhodesian Ridgeback Congress, August 2012 3. http://www.history.com/topics/inventions/ invention-of-the-internet 4. The Rhodesian Ridgeback – Wiki, http:// en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodesian_Ridgeback 5. http://www.fci.be/en/ 6. Hunting Ridgeback Association, http://thehra. com/index2.htm 7. Westminster Hound Group Placements, http:// www.westminsterkennelclub.org/history/ houndbrecords.html ABOUT THE AUTHOR Nancy Faville, JD, is the founder of Dia- blo Rhodesian Ridgebacks, in Pleasanton California, the accomplished breeder of a number of highly ranked Ridgebacks and a published author on Ridgeback versatility.
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WHY OWN A RIDGEBACK By Barbara Sawyer-Brown B e it by coincidence or design, the power, strength and feline agility of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is evident the moment he takes his first steps. Th e Rhodesian Ridgeback owes his heritage to Dutch Boers who began settling in Colonial Southern Africa. A number of di ff erent breeds contributed to the gene pool of the Ridgeback. Among these were Greyhound, Bloodhound, various Masti ff types, Airdale and Africa’s Hottentot Dog and others.
By the 1900s a type had been successfully set, partly by accident, partly by design, and entirely out of need. Th e European settlers needed a multi-purpose dog, a truly fearless hunting hound, on the African Veldt, a watch dog on the farm and a gentle companion in the home. However, he is most famous for being used to track and hold a lion at bay, waiting for the hunter. Th is required amazing courage, agility, tenacity and endurance. He is the only breed of dog that can hold a lion at bay, yet stay out of harm’s way. His color (all di ff erent shades of wheaten) were chosen to blend in with the surrounding grass and bush of the Veldt. His coat is short and sleek, so as to not become entangled and to allow for easy maintenance and parasite removal. He is neither too big to be clumsy, nor too small to render him unproductive in hunting large game. He is a swift runner, able to run at thirty miles an hour! With all of his athletic ability and functional purpose, the Rho- desian Ridgeback is also beautiful to look at—graceful, regal and fearless in appearance. Th e hallmark of this breed is the ridge of hair which runs backwards along his spine, a cowlick that has two whorls (crowns) opposite each other in the upper third of this ridge. In 1924, the South African Kennel Union registered the first Rhodesian Ridgeback. In November 1955, the American Kennel Club admitted the Rhodesian Ridgeback to its Stud Book as the 112th breed to be accorded AKC registration facilities. Th e Ridge- back Standard describes a dog that stands between 25" and 27" at the withers and weighs around 85 pounds. Females should be 24" to 26" at their withers and weigh about 70 pounds. Th e Ridgeback is a wonderful breed of dog; however, not the best choice for all families. Asked if this dog can sleep in a dog house in the yard, my answer is, “Yes, if you are sleeping there, too.” When you tell me you have a two-acre fenced in backyard, I will warn you that your Ridgeback will most likely scratch the siding o ff your house, trying to get back into the house to be with you, or bark at the door, annoying neighbors, or dig out under the fence or leap over it (without a running start—this athlete can clear a six-foot high fence) and knock down every trash can in the neighborhood, if it does not first get killed in tra ffi c (they are not bright about the dangers of the streets). t4 )08 4 *()5 . "(";*/& . "3$)
Being a territorial breed, he will bark at every dog that approaches HIS terri- tory and note that his territory includes everywhere his eyes can see. Your dinner is no longer safe, unless you lock him out of the dining room during meals—and your microwave has become your bread box. Also, you must follow the rule that all defosting of meat is done in the refrigera- tor. And if allowed to sleep in your bed, be warned that the cute little puppy would one day become an 85-lb. bed hog. Th e Ridgeback is strong-willed, sensi- tive and independent. Th is stems from his ability to hunt independently of human direction; a trait that was very valuable in his native land. By now you are probably wondering why anybody would want to live with a Ridgeback. If you admire the beauty of the breed, and appreciate an independent spirit, the Ridgeback may be for you. Some people mistake the Ridgeback’s headstrong independence for a lack of intelligence; he is, indeed, a very clever dog who is sensitive to his owner’s moods and emotions Th e Ridgeback is a “People Dog” and it wants to be at his owner’s side. He is often called a “VELCRO® dog”—an a ff ectionate dog that needs the human companionship of his owner, yet is quite aloof with strangers. He responds to posi- tive training methods. Harsh treatment does not work with this breed. Th is is a Hound and he possesses many of the typi- cal Hound characteristics. Th e Ridgeback has a quiet, gentle tem- perament, rarely barking. He enjoys spend- ing the day with his owner, lounging in front of the fire or curled up in the corner. However, when alerted and in action, he can quickly become a graceful and power- ful hunter or guard dog. As a guard dog, he is very protective of his family, and every bit as intimidating as dogs that are known to be fierce watchdogs. He tends to bond with one person, how- ever will extend his a ff ection to other lov- ing and caring family members who treat him well. He will be devoted to his own family and friends, but aloof and dignified with strangers—although temperaments can range from quiet to clownish. Early, positive socialization is an important part
of developing a healthy and stable tem- perament. He is a dog for all reasons. He can suc- cessfully chase the lure and excel at Obe- dience Trials. During Obedience training, the Ridgeback can become bored with constant repetition, and tends to tune out when he has had enough. Exercises must be kept short, fresh and interesting, and should always be ended on a high note. Many patient owners have been rewarded with advanced obedience titles, dispelling the myth that a Hound will not do obedi- ence. Th e breed also does well in Agility, and if conformation is where your interest lies, an owner can still handle his own dog to a championship in the Ridgeback Ring. He has an innate love for children— if they have been taught how to behave around dogs. Another plus is there is minimal grooming for the Ridgeback. Th ese dogs have dirt resistant coat and frequent bath- ing is unnecessary. Using a hound brush on them regularly should keep them clean and odor free. But watch out, they are like eating pota- to chips. You can’t stop with just one. BIO I have been involved with Rhodesian Ridgebacks since 1966. Since then I have bred more than 100 champions, 9 of these dogs have ranked in the top ten ratings, and 5 of these held the #1 position. I have produced all-breed Best In Show Rhode- sian Ridgebacks—this is a World Record. Four more were sired by KWETU dogs. Th e 2002 National Specialty Winner was sired by a KWETU dog as was the OCRRC Specialty won by a KWETU bred dog. My dogs and bitches have been top producers and I am proud to share in the success of other breeders by providing them with breeding foundations. My kennel name of KWETU depicts our atmosphere. My dogs are house pets... we do not have kennels. KWETU a Swa- hili name meaning “Our Home”. We still remain a small, but serious, “hobby ken- nel” devoted to a search for excellence. I am currently licensed by the AKC to judge 14 breeds, including, of course, Rho- desian Ridgebacks. Th is will be my second
time judging a National Specialty in the US. I have judged Rhodesian Ridgebacks at Specialty Shows in Australia (twice in ten years), New Zealand, Sweden, Eng- land, Denmark, Holland, Israel, Italy, Germany, Canada, and at the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the US, Inc. Nation- al Specialty Show in Ocala, Florida in 1994, and again in 2004 at the Ridgeback World Congress in Texas, elected to do so by my peers, a Regional Specialty fort the OCRRC in California and a satellite show connected with the RRCUS National Spe- cialty in 2003. In 2009, I was invited to judge for the second time in Germany and in Israel. I am a past National Director of Res- cue for the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the US, Inc. I am an listed as an O ffi cial Mentor of the RRCUS, inc. My club a ffi liations include: t Member (and past director , vice president and president) of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the US. Inc. t Honorary member of the Rhode- sian Ridgeback Club of Western Australia t Honorary member of FDRI Ridge- back Club, Germany t Past president of the Carolina Kennel Club t Past Director of the Nashville Ken- nel Club t Past Associate Editor of the Ridge- back Quarterly t Past Colmunist of the Ridgeback Quarterly t Contributor Ridgeback Register
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WHY A SIGHT HOUND? Categorizing the rhodesian ridgebaCk
by aliCia hanna
T he purpose of a breed of dog dictates the conforma- tion which lends to that purpose. Those dogs best suited for the task were the type used for breeding advancement. The Ridgeback was first developed 350 years ago by the early European set- tlers in the Cape colony area of South Africa. The domestic animals that the Europeans brought to the new land quickly succumbed to the diseases
and parasites of the region. They real- ized the need to cross their imported domestic stock with the native animals to instill disease resistance producing the Afrikaner cattle, sheep, Boer hors- es, etc. The ridged native hunting dog of the Hottentot people was chosen to produce the hybrid strain of dog known today as the Rhodesian Ridgeback. In addition to disease resistance, this cross incorporated the genetic based “local knowledge” hunting instincts
for survival in this land. The settlers created a dog which possessed the keenest of sight, scenting ability and hearing as well as formidable courage, dedication and athleticism, securing survival for both man and dog. Lack- ing the ability to test DNA, the visible ridge was maintained as the identifi- able feature that indicated the dog’s crossed heritage. The importance of this dog to the Dutch/European settlers cannot be overestimated as he aided
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in sustaining the family with meat for the pot. Quoting the South African hand- book circa 1947: “...a trained hunting pack will upon scenting game fan out, one running directly towards the quar- ry and the other circling with the object of cutting off any retreat. Here again the dog’s amazing agility is displayed—the ability to turn in a split second, swerve and feint, or maintain a fast pace should their quarry break and run, and a chase ensue.” While tracking game, usually on foot, the hunter depended on his dog to signal him as to what lay ahead. He relied on the dog’s keen senses to detect danger. When encountering a heard of antelope the hunter shot at the selected target hoping to affect a kill. A wound- ed antelope could run for many miles before dropping, resulting in the loss of a week’s worth of meat to the hunter. In the event that a clean kill was not affect- ed by the hunter’s bullet, the dog would sight the wounded antelope, and with speed, endurance and agility strike out to knock it down. He often slammed the game with his chest, landing on his feet yards away out of striking distance of the quarry.
If the wounded game was enraged and threatening a charge, the dog would distract with agile feint attacks and retreats until the hunter could take a clean kill shot. He would if needed sacrifice himself for his master. The original KUSA standard called for a maximum 25 inch bitch 65 lbs. and a dog 27 inches, 75 lbs.—certainly not the short necked, drafty, weighty, low legged and unathletic specimens judges often ribbon in the show ring today. The AKC Standard was revised by our parent club to increase the weight to 75 and 85 lbs. for no other reason than the commit- tee wanted a bigger Rhodesian Ridge- back. This decision was not based on
anything but preference for size to fit their dogs into acceptable range. If wounded in the bush the utilitar- ian size dog could be portaged out for treatment. The hundred pound and over dogs of today would certainly be left where they dropped. The AKC Breed Standard references speed throughout “General Appear- ance… athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed... The Forequarters… the shoul- ders should be sloping, clean and mus- cular, denoting speed. The neck should be fairly long. The Chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never
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rounded like barrel hoops which would indicate want of speed. At the chase the Ridgeback demonstrates great coursing ability and endurance.” Nowhere within this Standard for the Breed is the mention of “lion hunting” or guard dogs for diamond mines, etc. Rather this breed had a much more serious work which was to aid the settler in procuring meat (no one ate lion) and protection by signal- ing as to what danger lay ahead in the bush or what was surrounding their encampment at night. These Standard requirements do not describe a heavy, shorted neck, Mas- tiff-like, stationary, sentry dog (which
I refer to as a “get off my front porch dog”), nor that of an overly frail Whip- pet-like build (or a “gone wrong Lab”), as many perceive them to be. Rather they should be an agile speedster with strength easily recognized as the Rho- desian Ridgeback, resembling no other. Lack of unity in perception is the reason dogs differ in appearance from breeder to breeder, and show judge to show judge. This lack of unity ultimately affects the overall conformation excel- lence of a breed, causing confusion in its wake resulting in irreparable damage to type. It took one prolific over adver- tised breeder of substandard poor qual- ity type dogs that were well awarded
by judges in the ring to negatively effect correct breed type in our modern time. Awards for such dogs would have been withheld back in the day. Too often lately it has been said to me by long respected dog show judges that, “Your breed is in trouble.” Who is to blame? There is a great need for our parent club to concentrate educa- tion of judges as to the true purpose of this breed and the desired type to per- form that function. In addition, the AKC needs to monitor judge’s choices as to correct type and conformation that would allow a dog to serve as he once did, in the bush. About the Author Alicia Hanna established Kimani, reg- istered in 1963 in Chester, NJ over 52 years ago. She has been an AKC Breed judge since 1993, judging National Specialties here and abroad. Alicia had the grand honor to be awarded the AKC Hound Group Breeder in 2012. She has bred/owned 13 National Best In Specialty Show winners, including this year which retired the RRCUS Best in Specialty Challenge Trophy for the third time. Alicia is retired from the business world.
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rhodesian ridgeback Q&A WITH DIANE JACOBSEN, DANIELLE SAND, DENISE FLAIM, JOHN ARVIN AND DUDLEY HACKNEY THE RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK
DIANE JACOBSEN I live in California along the coastal area above San Francisco. I grow toma- toes, mostly heirlooms but also some of the colorful hybrids. We have about 200 plants and sell to restaurants. DANIELLE SAND
DUDLEY HACKNEY I live in North Carolina. Outside of dogs, I immensely enjoy cooking and reading all types of literature. 1 Your opinion of the current quality of purebred dogs in general, and your breed in particular. DJ: I have been told by European judges that American dogs in general are stylized. I have to agree that in most respects the dogs are taken to the extreme in style and type. In Ridgebacks, this is also true. I am seeing dogs and bitches that are sighty to the extreme, too much leg and extreme in angulation in the rears. There is a lack of overall balance, substance and bone. DS: I do not profess to be an expert on any breed other than my own. There are many new breeds that I cannot even identify! I feel the overall quality of Rhodesian Ridge- backs varies greatly depending on geographical region. I find the Northeast part of the country, where I attend the most shows, has good overall quality. DF: I judge both Hound and Working breeds, and often the quality is average at best. That said, I have judged dogs in the last couple of months—Mastiffs and Whippets come to mind—in which the best dogs were world class. The quality in Ridgebacks tends to vary, depending on what part of the country you are in. I recently judged a region- al in Michigan where the depth of quality was superb. And I’ve been quite impressed judging Ridgebacks in western Europe in the last couple of years—there were several I would I have taken home in a heartbeat. JA: I don’t feel qualified to comment on the quality of the fancy in general. However, I do hear a lot of comments about various breeds being too big and bulky, and judges not judging to the breed standards. As far as Rhodesian Ridgebacks go, I’m concerned that the breed has changed so much since the 1992 breed-stan- dard changes took effect that it’s almost a different breed. The race to breed excessive side-go into a breed that is slightly longer than tall, capable of efficient movement and great endurance is producing large, over-angulated and mostly unbalanced dogs.
I live in Rhinebeck, New York, in the beautiful Hudson Valley. By profes- sion I am a veterinarian. My passions besides dogs include art, fashion, gar- dening, travel and gastronomy. DENISE FLAIM
I live on Long Island. I started my professional life as a daily-newspaper reporter and editor, and I published sev- eral magazines for the fancy, including Sighthound Review , Modern Molosser and the Ridgeback Register . Now I publish dog books under my Revodana Publishing imprint. JOHN ARVIN I live in New Jersey, land of many Ridgebacks! I’m happily retired from a career in nuclear engineering since the beginning of 2016. Now, most of what I do seems to revolve around dogs!
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rhodesian ridgeback Q&A WITH DIANE JACOBSEN, DANIELLE SAND, DENISE FLAIM, JOHN ARVIN AND DUDLEY HACKNEY
“ELEGANCE IS THE FROSTING ON THE CAKE AFTER YOU HAVE A BALANCED DOG WITH BONE, SUBSTANCE, SOUNDNESS AND TEMPERAMENT.”
DH: The quality of purebred dogs has vastly improved since I entered the fancy in 1976. In general, I think the newer breeds show less quality than well-established breeds. There is the flip side to that feeling, in that some newer breeds are “old” from their country of origin and not ruined by the actions of fanciers that change the type to make the breed into flashier, more winning styles. I think the overall quality of Ridgebacks has improved and become more consistent. One must recognize the influence of major breeders in geographic areas that dominate and create a style that prevails. This is confus- ing to new breeders and judges. 2. The biggest concern you have about your breed, be it medical, structural, temperament-wise, or what. DJ: Structural balance and extreme elegance. Elegance is the frosting on the cake after you have a balanced dog with bone, substance, soundness and temperament. We are seeing tails that are gay and/or curled even though the standard is quite clear that the tail should NEVER be curled nor gay. Although the tail is allotted only two points on our point schedule, it affects the overall gen- eral appearance and balance of the dog. DS: Its popularity and the number of shortcuts people are willing to take to meet supply and demand. DF: Though we are coming up on the 100-year anniver- sary of the first Ridgeback standard in 2022, the breed is still relatively young and type is not quite fixed. I explain to new judges that the Ridgeback is a balancing act—between power and elegance, speed and strength, and between the Greyhound and Great Dane blood that helped establish the breed. This is a breed that resists the middle, so sometimes judges will have to reward a dog that is somewhat lighter or heavier boned than ideal, keeping in mind that both are needed to help bring the breed back to center, where it belongs. But this doesn’t mean that we should accept extremes in either direction. A Ridgeback should not look like a Boerboel, nor
should it look like it’s one ham sandwich away from being a Saluki. DH: Temperament is good if the breed is recognized as a working hound true to its multipurpose history. As we become more medically knowledgeable it is hard to recognize that our breed is healthy and hopefully genetic screenings will continue to help breeders avoid health pitfalls. Structure will continue to challenge breeders of Ridge- backs, especially new folks who are infatuated with their own dogs and do not make effort to learn canine anatomy and apply it to the standard. 3. The biggest problem facing you as a breeder. DJ: I think that would be the biggest problem that all dog people are facing. With the limit of dogs allowed per household, a person purchases a dog, campaigns that dog to a championship, and then faces all the health clearanc- es before considering breeding. They keep a puppy and soon they are out of allowable dogs. There are no longer the big kennels to set type and ensure that only the best are bred. DS: Identifying which pedigrees blend well with my line and which do not. Knowing this allows me to make bet- ter choices in selecting a stud dog and also guides me as a stud-dog owner. DF: We here in the United States are fortunate to have a number of senior breeders who learned the breed at the feet of masters such as Major Tom Hawley, the South Afri- can breeder-judge who wrote the “bible” of the breed, and Margaret Lowthian, whose West Coast kennel was such a force in bringing in foundation sires in the breed’s earliest days on these shores. Those senior breeders – and some of those who were fortunate enough to have been mentored by them—are now among the very few who still have identifiable, linebred lines in this country. Many new breeders are in need of mentoring, and, sadly, many are unaware of it. Most newbie pedigrees today look like
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rhodesian ridgeback Q&A WITH DIANE JACOBSEN, DANIELLE SAND, DENISE FLAIM, JOHN ARVIN AND DUDLEY HACKNEY
“FOR JUDGES, THE RIDGE IS HALLMARK OF OUR BREED. THERE ARE MANY TYPES AND SHAPES THAT ARE ACCEPTABLE—SEE THE ILLUSTRATED STANDARD. ONCE A RIDGE IS DEEMED ACCEPTABLE, JUDGE THE DOG UNDERNEATH IT.”
someone has been feeding pigeons in the park, so scat- tered and random are the names on that piece of paper. It’s tough to find a quality male with a correspondingly good pedigree to breed to. JA: I decided to retire from breeding. I don’t want my dogs outliving me. 4. Advice to a new breeder? Advice to a new judge of your breed? DJ: Read the standard every time before you judge the breed and apply that instead of personal preferences. Liver- nosed dogs and light-wheaten dogs are part of that stan- dard. New breeders should also read the standard, and when contemplating breeding, consult a breeder with more experience and listen to what they say instead of breeding to the top-winning dogs regardless of whether they will be complimentary to their bitch. DS: The most important advice to both is to attend a parent- club breed seminar and to take a refresher course in dog anatomy. The internet is no substitute for listening to experienced breed mentors and participating in hands-on education. For judges, the ridge is hallmark of our breed. There are many types and shapes that are acceptable—see the illus- trated standard. Once a ridge is deemed acceptable, judge the dog underneath it. DF: To the new breeders: Make your first goal figuring out what you don’t know. Be prepared for the segmentation that happens when you first start to really understand the breed: You’ll begin to see it in pieces—shoulders, ribcage, croup, rearquarters—as you begin to learn about them. Then, once your knowledge fills in, the whole dog will reappear for you. In other words, before you see the forest, you have to spend some time on the trees. For judges: Don’t be perplexed by the many styles within type. Work to find a dog who inhabits that middle ground between those extremes I talked about earlier, and use
that as your template. This is a very straightforwardly constructed breed with no frills. Don’t get hung up on the ridge—make sure it’s there, make sure it’s adequate, and then move on. JA: New breeders: Read the breed standard over and over and over and over again. Listen to your mentors, but don’t be afraid to question them, especially when you disagree or do not understand them. If your breeder just yells at you to do whatever they say, then you might want to find someone with whom you can have a candid discussion. New judges in my breed are being told things that are not part of our standard. I know this to be true because pro- spective judges have complained to me about it. Always remember this: If you don’t like judges coming into your breed’s ring and not judging to your standard, then don’t do it to other breeds. DH: Take advantage of seminars and really educate your- selves—not just in your own breed, but in canine struc- ture in general and all facets, i.e. how does structure, cor- rect or not, effect movement? Why does our standard call for a round eye? How do these elements work together to form a Rhodesian Ridgeback true to the standard and the purpose of the breed? Also, go to kennels of breeders having studied their pedigrees to understand and discuss their breeding goals. Read and discuss breedings with other breeders whom you respect. Never stop studying! 5. What’s the most common fault you see when travel- ing around the country? DJ: Lack of bone, too sighty and really bad tail carriage. DS: Upright shoulders and short upper arms, short rib cages, soft back lines, flat feet. DF: There are several: Straight, coarsely set fronts matched with overangled rears that create an out-of-balance sil- houette. Shallow ribcages and lack of any front fill—you put your hand in between the two front legs and it disap- pears. Incorrect silhouettes, especially square dogs that
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