Let’s Talk Breed Education!
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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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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PHOTO BY ROSEMARY THROSSELL
OUR SINCEREST APPRECIATION AND GRATITUDE TO ALL JUDGES FOR AWARDING RUFUS AT SUCH A YOUNG AGE.
HANDLED BY JOY BARBIERI AND LESLEY ANNE POTTS FOR OWNER ROSEMARY THROSSELL BRED BY HAZEL PARKER WWW.KASKAZINI.US WHAT A FANTASTIC START TO 2022 FOR OUR YOUNG BOY RUFUS. HE HAS ACHIEVED SO MUCH IN A SHORT SPACE OF TIME. WE ARE SO EXCITED ABOUT HIS FUTURE!
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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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rhodesian ridgeback Q&A WITH DIANE JACOBSEN, DANIELLE SAND, DENISE FLAIM, JOHN ARVIN AND DUDLEY HACKNEY
“THE STANDARD MAY BE AN OLD ONE WITHOUT MANY CHANGES OVER THE YEARS, BUT IT WAS WRITTEN WITH THE PURPOSE OF THIS BREED AS A FOREMOST THOUGHT.”
you might be surprised which ones can actually do the job the breed was bred to do.
are too up on leg—the Dane-ification of the breed. These dogs are often oversized but relatively narrow, with high hocks and less-than-stable rearquarters. And last but not least, small, squinty, too narrowly placed “pig eyes” instead of the big, round dark eye that is so crucial to the “intelligent expression” called for in the standard. JA: Unbalanced, too large for the breed Ridgebacks. Both dogs and bitches. DH: The most common fault would have to be poor front structure. Claudia Orlandi has a great breeding seminar as well as book that anyone will profit from, especially regarding fronts. Correct fronts must be a goal of every breeding, as they vanish quickly. Overall, breed type is good. 6. Anything else you’d like to share—something you’ve learned as a breeder, exhibitor or judge or a par- ticular point you’d like to make. DJ: Set a goal and remember what that is. That goal should be to produce a better dog, not just win in the ring. The standard may be an old one without many changes over the years, but it was written with the purpose of this breed as a foremost thought. DS: A kind word and a smile go a long way. DF: I think a lot of times exhibitors don’t understand why they lose. Sometimes, yes, it might be because of every- one’s favorite excuse—“politics.” But oftentimes, it’s because of a particular judge’s prioritization, which can and should change with time, as well as the competition in the ring. It truly is the dog on the day. JA: I would encourage judges who are applying for hunting breeds to spend some time going to performance events. Whether it be hunting trials, nose work, lure coursing or whatever. Get out of the show building and see the dogs work, run or trail, or whatever they do. There are too many breeds where I hear they “are no longer one breed.” Be it field or ring, it’s supposed to be all one breed, and
7. And for a bit of humor, what’s the funniest thing that you ever experienced at a dog show? DJ: I had several bitches entered under Michele Billings with my grandson Kyle helping. The 9-12 puppy bitch was less than perfectly trained. The American Bred bitch was the best one, and along with an Open bitch they all won their classes. Now the math was a bit on the short side as far handlers went, so I recruited a friend to handle the Am Bred bitch, who was at least leash-trained. First to go around was Kyle with the 9-12 puppy bitch. She dove under his legs, did a roll and grabbed for his pant leg. Kyle jumped over her as she got up and repeated this maneuver. They made it without a disaster but raised eyebrows from our judge. Then the Am Bred handler started off but was not mov- ing. The bitch is trying to pull her but going nowhere, like running in one spot. Judge turned to me and said, “Take this bitch.” Now I have a big problem: Should I hand off the Open bitch, who will surely tow the volun- teer handler to places yet unknown? I explained to the judge and she said not to worry as I get to move both of them. I moved the Am Bred and then changed armbands back to Open and moved her. Am Bred went Winners Bitch on her way to BOB over specials. After it was all over, the judge told me my grandson was either going to be the best handler in the world or he was going to quit and never show dogs again. Kyle is now a bartender in Las Vegas. JA: I enjoy stewarding. After the class has been judged and the winners are lining up, I usually say, “Armbands to the judge, please.” Well, one day I said that, and it was either a new or foreign exhibitor. She promptly took off her armband and handed it to the judge! Both of us had a great laugh, and explained to the exhibitor what it was supposed to mean.
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RIDGEBACK: A BREED Q & A
1. As a breeder/judge, you have a warehouse of knowledge that the average person doesn’t possess. What do you believe is most misunderstood about the breed? What do novice judges fail to grasp? JA: I still believe that weight and “heavy in bone in the foreleg” are the least understood features of the Rhode- sian Ridgeback. I’m somewhat encouraged to see lately that height is starting to come back more towards the breed standard requirements. However, I’m convinced that between both breeders and judges, the emphasis on heavy bone (and the way overemphasized reach and drive) has disregarded the breed’s weight requirements. One must always keep in mind that this breed’s primary trait is great endurance, coupled with balance and decent speed. Do not be fooled by excessive reach and drive and pay close attention to how this breed moves on the down and back. Movement is to be balanced and effortless. SF: The overall correct silhouette of the Ridgeback; the correct ratio of height to length and body depth to length of leg. Once RRs were allowed to lure course, we began seeing too much leg and too short bodies, i.e. taller than long. A Ridgeback, although fairly square, should give the impression of length. Most novice judges I’ve mentored start asking about cosmetic things: wrinkles on the head, white, etc—those things should be way down the list in their decisions. DF: While it sounds like a cliché, many novice judges have difficulty getting their arms around correct Ridgeback type. This is understandable, because the central concept of the Ridgeback is the tension between opposing forces: between power and elegance; between strength and agility; between endurance and speed. It’s the canine version of Goldilocks—you want it just right. But striking this balance is not easy, in the whelping box as much as in the ring, and most times judges are left to choose among exhibits who fall to one side of this dividing line or the other. The key is to know and reward that perfect balance when you find it. Another challenge with judging the Ridgeback is that it is a relatively young breed and these “drags” bubble up peri- odically. There are Bullmastiff-influenced Ridgebacks. (I bred one who was the spitting image of Roger of the Fenns, who is in every Bullmastiff pedigree as a founda- tion sire.) There are Greyhound-influenced Ridgebacks, with exaggerated tuck-ups, weedy bone and pinheads. And of late, we seem to be having a reversion to Great Dane type. Recent studies show that the Ridgeback is
more generically related to the Dane than any other breed, and we see this manifesting in the Ridgeback ring in dogs who are oversized but relatively narrow for their height, with square not rectangular silhouettes, atypi- cal heads with excessive flews and, even, black masking extending over the eyes and overdone, hocky rear quar- ters that start in Manhattan and end in Montauk. This is not Ridgeback type. 2. What’s our best route to getting this done? JA: We pay a fair amount of attention to educating judges; I’d like to see our parent club take a more active role in trying to improve the education of breeders. SF: Good question! My suggestion would be more emphasis on correct proportions by mentors. 3. Are you taking advantage of the recent break- throughs in DNA markers for DM, deafness and ridgelessness? JA: I’ve tested for DM for a number of years; I’ve also BAER tested a number of my dogs as well. I tested all of my dogs for EOAD (Early Onset Adult Deafness) but I don’t person- ally believe the test is 100% proven at this time. I’m saying that even though all of my dogs tested clear. As far as ridge- less testing—no, I see no reason to perform that test. Any ridgeless my bitches have produced in the past went to pet home on spay/neuter contracts. The research for RRIVA (RR inherited ventricular arrhythmia) and JME (Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy), I consider far more important to overall breed health than ridgelessness. SF: Yes, I do DNA for DM and EAOD, but not ridgeless. It’s not a disease, merely cosmetic. The RRCUS encourages members to test. 4. Would you breed a ridgeless dog if it were a superior animal? JA: No. There are a sufficient number of superior ridged dogs around the world that can be considered for inclu- sion into any breeding program. SF: Yes. You can easily find a dominant ridge dog, so all pups would be ridged. This is a case where testing for ridge dominance would be wise. DF: Currently, the code of ethics of the Rhodesian Ridge- back Club of the United States prevents members from selling ridgeless Ridgebacks for breeding purposes, though the code of ethics technically does not preclude a breeder from keeping a ridgeless and breeding it herself.
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Rhodesian Ridgeback Q&A
WITH JOHN ARVIN, SANDRA FIKES, DENISE FLAIM, LINDA MORE
The Ridgeback breed culture is such that breeding ridge- less is still very much taboo; that said, we have evolved significantly from just a few decades ago, when healthy ridgeless puppies were routinely culled. A handful of breeders in the U.S., Canada and Europe have bred ridgeless bitches to males who were homozygous for the ridge gene, ensuring entirely ridged litters. But this is the decided exception. I think what breeders do in the privacy of their whelp- ing box is their own business. I do, however, believe that ridged dogs should be the end goal of any breeding and strenuously object to the idea of a ridgeless variety, which has been proposed as recently as last year by the FCI. LM: I’m not a RR breeder, but if I were I do not think I would use a ridgeless dog in breeding. It will be interest- ing to learn what the breeders have to say on this. 5. Do you believe that a lion-hunting dog fits the defi- nition of a sight hound? JA: No. The Ridgeback does not have the classic outline of a Sighthound. I was there in the 1980s and actively sup- ported lure coursing for our breed as something to get the dogs off the couch. I also missed where the Sight- hound definition included “track and bay”. SF: Certainly. Holding lions at bay is herding instinct and doesn’t preclude chasing by sight. DF: This question reflects a misunderstanding of the Ridge- back’s historic role and classification. First, the Ridgeback is not a “pure” Sighthound; it is a breed based firmly on Sighthound blood (specifically, Greyhound and likely Deerhound/Wolfhound) crossed with other breeds to give it a bit more biddability and air-scenting ability. Second, while lion hunting may have been the breed’s “sexiest” role, it is by no means its primary one. For every privileged 19th century trophy hunter who went lion hunting with a pack of Ridgebacks, there were thousands of Afrikaners who went about their daily lives with this breed quietly at their side, ready to chase down meat for the table or fend off a hostile baboon or leopard. LM: Actually, no, because RRs can use both sight and scent to find and track the lion (and see below about long dis- tance trotting). That said I’ve seen Ridgebacks totally lov- ing lure coursing and do extremely well at it; it’s clearly part of their skill set. 6. Do you believe Ridgebacks were more big game hunters, utilitarian farm dogs or something else? JA: Yes and yes—they were both SF: Farm dogs (all-round instincts) made famous by their hunting abilities. DF: Ridgebacks were, and remain, renaissance hounds. They were jacks-of-all-trades, never specialists. They trotted alongside their horse-mounted masters all-day; broke off to course, bay and bring down game; defended their
people and homesteads against intruders, including dan- gerous predators and even drove cattle if the need arose. This insistence on shoehorning this breed into artificial categories does it a tremendous disservice. Forced at gunpoint to choose a category, I believe we belong with the Sighthounds, as the parent club informed the AKC’s Group Realignment Committee in a report I was tasked with writing. The FCI categorizes the Ridge- back as a Scenthound simply because that’s where it placed the Dalmatian, on whose standard the Ridgeback standard was modeled in the 1920s. It is a classification with no factual basis; there is no documented Scen- thound blood in the Ridgeback and recent genetic studies have upheld this. And for my European friends who argue that Ridgebacks are not “Sighthoundy” enough to join Group 10, I ask them to please, please, explain the Irish Wolfhound. LM: I learned Ridgebacks as versatile dogs of many uses, both big game hunters and utilitarian farm dogs that would protect their people and property—the latter role not being typical of Sighthounds. 7. When judging this breed, a judge should keep in mind the purpose of the breed, is that purpose harassing and worrying the king of beasts? JA: No. Judges should keep in mind the dog they’re looking for had to survive lion hunting. The dogs they’re looking for had to have great endurance, balance and be quick and agile enough to stay out of harm’s way once the game had been tracked and the baying commenced. SF: If that means keeping them in correct height and weight, then yes—if someone has seen what that looks like. I don’t see most as truly understanding how important “agile” is in a Ridgeback. The most important factor in being agile is size. What’s more agile: a Fox Terrier or a Mastiff? DF: Again, this one-dimensional description of the breed does it no favors. The traits necessarily for baying, whether your prey is a lion or a gazelle, are correct, standard size (at best oversized dogs were unsuccessful, at worst they did not live to hunt another day); strong but never overdone bone, commensurate with the traditional game hunted; short, strong hocks, wide stifle and decent rear angulation for pivoting ability; clean and laid back shoulders for good shock absorption; ample rib cage for lung room and endurance; good feet for getting there, and good under jaw for finishing the job on smaller, less dangerous prey. Perfectly functional and perfectly bal- anced with no fillips or frills. LM: This follows from the last answer. I was taught that the Ridgeback should be constructed to be able to trot for miles following and harassing the lion, so that the dog could bring the big cat to bay when it finally tired and hold it until the arrival of the hunter(s). At the same time,
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the Ridgeback should be a loyal guardian. I guess I don’t see only a single purpose for this breed (and I also know that they can play a fine couch potato role). 8. When judging RRs a judge should put the follow- ing attributes in what order: Temperament; Agility; Side movement; Feet; Ridge; Head; Color. JA: Clearly the above list is missing some more important characteristics; Strong, muscular and active. Symmetrical and balanced in outline. Slightly longer than tall but well balanced Height, weight and correct angulation separate functional dogs from those who are too large or who may be over/under angulated for the breed and, therefore, lack breed type. “Looks good standing still” is not in our standard. Compact feet with well-arched toes are a must in this breed. Flat feet or long toes are not correct for this breed. Remember the breed must have great endurance and all of the running gear must be there for the dog to function. Look at heads to further separate; head of a fair length and a flat skull that’s rather broad between the ears. The RR should have strong jaws. Side movement: Correct footfall is to the end of the nose when fully extended. That’s as far as the efficient, long, free and unrestricted movement in this breed needs to go. The feet remain close to the ground when trotting (both front and rear). The back should remain level. Yes, the dog must have a ridge and, ideally, it starts immediately behind the shoulder blades and end at the hip with two crowns (whorls) that are directly across from each other and no further than 1 / 3 down the length of the ridge. Until the AKC decides to put weave poles in the confor- mation ring, the judge will have to use the rest of the breed characteristics to judge agility. Sadly, the word does not appear in our standard, although, “At the chase, the Ridgeback demonstrates great coursing ability…” Maybe, sort of covers that, although, when one imagines Ridgebacks baying the “King of Beasts”, does one really picture the lion trying to hightail it out of Dodge? Neither do I. Agility is what kept the Ridgebacks alive at the end of the day. SF: Silhouette, (agility) height/weight, overall movement (not just side!), feet, head, ridge and, lastly, color. DF: In a breed whose byword is balance, an ordered list like this can only serve to misguide new judges. Instead, I’ll comment on each to give some perspective. Temperament. Ridgebacks are aloof and reserved with strangers and latitude should be given to puppies or young dogs that may be green and unfamiliar with the show ring; Ridgebacks are, after all, suspicious of the unfamiliar. But adult, ringwise dogs that slink, cower and spook are not displaying the typical, stable temperament required of the breed.
Agility. Athleticism and the ability to get out of its own way are a fundamental requirement in a Ridgeback, but they must be balanced by correct substance. Side movement. One looks for smooth, easy, collected, ground-covering movement, with the head and tail elevat- ed slightly above the backline and no wasted motion. But one must also expect soundness on the down and back: There are far too many Ridgebacks wobbling on weak hocks as they come and go. Feet. As in any hound, splayed, weak feet are a serious fault. We want strong toes and never any flatness. Ridge. The ridge is of course the hallmark of the breed, and its presence marks the Ridgeback as descending from the ridged Khoi dog of southern Africa. That said, judges should avoid becoming “ridge freaks”: It is far harder to breed a good Ridgeback under that ridge. Head. Hounds do not run on their heads, but of late find- ing a good, handsome Ridgeback head with the correct dark, round (not almond!) Eye is becoming frighteningly difficult. We are losing our heads and if you ascribe to the theory that head styles follow body styles, perhaps it is not coincidental that we are simultaneously losing cor- rect body proportions. Color. Ridgeback breeders do not breed for color, so in the U.S. we are not hobbled by the fascination for ever-redder, verging on mahogany dogs that has taken hold on the other side of the Atlantic. We acknowledge, even celebrate, the fact that the light wheaten dogs are just as correct as their arguably flashier, dark red wheaten counterparts, just as black noses aren’t any “more correct” than browns. As a rule we tolerate even more white than the standard outlines (a short sock on an otherwise typey dog won’t bother most breeder- judges). You get the idea: We don’t obsess about color— unless someone brings a black-and-tan in the ring. (Yes, they exist, and, yes, it’s been done before.) Then watch the fireworks. LM: Given my previous answers it should be no surprise that I rank a stable, confident temperament very highly. There is no room with a strong, powerful dog for an untrustworthy, timid nature. Since the Ridgeback could be called upon to perform some demanding tasks, everything having to do with physical ability (movement, agility, feet all get lumped in here) is important. A strong, handsome head, masculine or feminine, with bright intelligent eyes and ears framing the face is very desir- able. A Ridgeback must have a ridge, but as an “outsider”, I find I do not place great emphasis on excellence in that area. For me, it’s more likely to possibly be a deciding factor between good dogs. And as for color, if it’s in the standard, it works for me. I’m sure others may well prioritize things a bit differently and I believe that varying opinions help keep the balance in any breed.
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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 char- acteristic 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. OfficialStandard for the RHODESIA N RIDGEBA CK COURTESY THE AMERICAN KENNEL CLUB
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. Hind quarters: 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) Ridg e: 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 charac- teristic 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. 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 effi- cient, long, free and unrestricted. Reach and drive express- ing a perfect balance between power and elegance. At the chase, the Ridgeback demonstrates great coursing ability and endurance. Temperament Dignified and even tempered. Reserved
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 hold- ers. 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.
with strangers. Scale of Points
General appearance, size, symmetry and balance............15 Ridge...................................................................................2 0 Head................................................................................... 1 5 Legs and Feet.....................................................................15 Neck and Shoulders...........................................................10 Body, Back, Chest and Loin..............................................10 Gait..................................................................................... 1 0 Coat and Color.....................................................................3 Tail........................................................................................ 2 Total.................................................................................. 1 0 0 Disqualification: Ridgelessness.
Approved January 12, 2010 Effective March 31, 2010
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RHODESIAN RIDGEBACKS IN REVIEW
JOHN ARVIN I have lived in New Jersey since 1984 following my separa- tion from the US Navy. I am now retired after almost 30 years in the civilian nuclear power industry; where my experience as a technical analyst in the Engineering department serves me well in the evaluation canine structure and outline. My first Ridgeback owned me starting in 1985; I started showing in 1986. At my very first dog show the judge placed my dog third, then told me, “He's better than the second place dog but you need to learn how to show him.” My thought was that I showed him well enough that the judge should have placed him second since he clearly saw he was the better dog even with me handling. I think my first match assignment was around year 2000. I obtained my RR license in 2007. I'm now licensed for Whippets and permit for Borzoi and Saluki. I am also a licensed lure-coursing judge in both AKC and ASFA. LOU GUERRERO
We have been breeding and exhibiting Afghans under the GENESIS prefix for 46 years. I was licensed for Afghans & Salukis in 1991. I completed and received my Hound Group as well as Brittanys, Chinese Cresteds, Italian Greyhounds, all Poodle varieties, Juniors and Best in Show in 2010. We’ve always been breeder/owner/handlers of our own dogs and have had many top Afghans over the years and several top producing stud dogs. My judging career has allowed me to travel to Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan, Italy, Mexico, New Zealand and Sweden. And I also had the honor to judge most of the Sighthounds at the 2008 Westminster Kennel Club. PATTI WIDICK NEALE
My husband Chris and I live on 9 acres in rural north Florida with a lot of Borzoi. In addition to dog activi- ties, I am an avid photographer, ama- teur naturalist, cactus and succulent gardener, shoot in competitive hand- gun sports and build/make/create any number of things with my hands. Borzois have owned me for 42 years. I’ve been showing almost as long, first
We live in Oak Hills, Califor- nia, between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. I’m retired from a west coast publishing company where I was Director of their Arts & Crafts divi- sion. I live with my husband Hank Nave of 50 years and we were mar- ried in July 2013 (a very long engage- ment). We enjoy, traveling, and our two very spoiled Afghan bitches: 10 and 5 years old. We no longer breed at home but on occasion may co-breed. I’m currently VP and Show Chairman of the first AKC-approved All Hound Group Club, the Western Hound Asso- ciation of Southern California, known
in obedience and lure coursing, then in conformation as soon as I could identify and acquire an excellent quality bitch. The 100th champion we’ve bred finished this year. After a layoff of two decades, I’ve returned to obedience training with a favorite dog. Judging is a natural progression for a breeder who is constantly evaluating breeding stock and has provided me with challenge and delight for almost 24 years. DEBRA
as “The Hound Classic.” Our events are mid-spring in April with multiple Hound specialties held on Friday, followed by our Hound group shows Saturday and Sunday. Orange Coast Rhodesian Ridgeback Specialty Club is one of the largest entries of 100+ at our Hound Classic weekend. We are proud of the growth of the Hounds over the years. Every year we have sight and scent sweepstakes groups that are very popu- lar with our exhibitors. We feel we have the cream of the crop with top quality Hounds represented from around the country. It is a very strong Hound group.
THORTON I live in Scottsville, Virginia with four Pumik. Outside of dogs, I work on my non-profit in Mexico. We start- ed Animal Care Association of Mex- ico about 10 years ago. We spay and neuter street dogs while educating
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