the youth about proper care for their dogs. We also arrange transportation for those families that cannot get their dog to the vet and pay for the spay/neuter. I bred Newfoundlands for 33 years, Portuguese Water Dogs for ten years and now have moved to my present breed, the Pumik, which is now in the Herding Group. I started judging in 2000 and currently judge three groups. 1. Describe the breed in three words. JA: Balance, endurance and fair speed. LG: Symmetrical/balance; elegance/with smooth clean lines; athletic/power. PWN: All purpose athlete. DT: I find the Ridgeback a noble breed. They are coura- geous, loyal and dignified. 2. What are your “must have” traits in this breed? JA: Balance above all else, correct height and weight, condi- tioned for great endurance, nothing exaggerated. LG: Ridgebacks should be symmetrical with a smooth out- line, not coarse. Head: flat skull with intelligent expres- sion. Neck running smoothly into a well laid back; slop- ing shoulders with a strong firm top line, deep chest with spring of rib, upper arm set well under those withers with a balanced rear; not over angulated. There should be a well-set croup and tail set. Correct ridge. Movement should be clean coming and going, with an effortless side gate; balanced reach and drive while hold- ing a strong top line. PWN: Proportion and outline, ease and power moving, attractive head. The Ridgeback is somewhat a generic dog with a distinctive feature (the ridge, of course) so it is doubly important that a dog has distinctive Ridgeback type. Type is what separates a dog from similar breeds, or those that went into its makeup. With a relatively brief pure breeding history, dogs will be seen in the ring that “fall out” a to Mastiff, Greyhound or a bunchy “bull and terrier” look, instead of the beautiful blended athlete described by the standard. Ease and power moving are integral parts of working Hound type. “THE RIDGEBACK IS SOMEWHAT A GENERIC DOG WITH A DISTINCTIVE FEATURE (THE RIDGE, OF COURSE) SO IT IS DOUBLY IMPORTANT THAT A DOG HAS DISTINCTIVE RIDGEBACK TYPE.”
DT: The Rhodesian must be balanced, but have the distinc- tive ridge. Movement is important, as they must be able to move easily to avoid danger and do their job. 3. Are there any traits in this breed you fear are becoming exaggerated? JA: It would probably take less space to recount the parts that aren't exaggerated, but here goes. Height and weight are way over standard; this impedes all parts of breed functionality from endurance to agility. There is a grossly exaggerated fore chest; this hinders correct movement and impedes turning ability—I fondly refer to them as “tumor” fronts. Also present are sloping toplines instead sloping shoulders, usually accompanied by over-angulated rears. LG: Over angulated rears and straight upper arms. Handlers over stretching the rear, thus slopping the top line. Han- dlers running way too fast with some exhibits, which can create a laboring movement. PWN: Lure coursing is very popular with Ridgeback owners. In many areas, their entries are second only to Whippets. Because of their inclusion in the US as sighthounds, I feel that some fanciers are rationalizing or even promoting Greyhound-like traits: legginess, long loins, over-refine- ment, snipy muzzles and small ears. The Standard words “capable of … a fair (good) amount of speed” should not be an excuse for a departure from true Ridgeback type. DT: The dog must not become too long. They must be bal- anced so that every part of the dog flows into the next without any exaggeration. 4. Do you think the dogs you see in this breed are better now than they were when you first started judging? JA: Definitely not. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog of great endurance—first and foremost. While some in our breed are of the opinion that this translates into a dog of great reach and drive; quite the opposite is correct for this breed. Until 1992 our breed standard called for a dog of moderate angulation, which is correct for any dog where the height/length ration is slightly longer than tall (or almost square). That wording was removed and replaced with the current verbiage. The movement in this breed is to be free and unrestricted, but efficient is the key phrase in our standard that is constantly overlooked. Efficient movement includes a clean down and back; a solid, but not rigid, topline and feet no more than an inch or two above ground at extension. LG: Yes and no. When I first started judging Ridgebacks, the entries were much larger than today. The quality then was more consistent in balance and movement. It seems to me today you see various outlines; this includes too tall, too long in loin or short back, soft toplines and tails carried too high. For the most part the movement is over all very good.
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