Showsight Presents The Rhodesian Ridgeback

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

288 • S HOW S IGHT M AGAZINE , O CTOBER 2018

Powered by