| Would you like to be the owner of a Ridgeback some day?
Please read this!
Before even considering contacting a breeder to purchase a puppy, you should ask yourself this question:
Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback the right breed for you?
A Ridgeback is a hound, which means they were bred to chase and hunt, without a lot of interference from people. They are independant dogs, who can and will think for themselves. They were also used as guard dogs, which means they have the ability to show aggression. A Ridgeback decides on his own who is to be trusted and who is not.
If you want a family dog, who will never show any aggression whatever happens, do not buy a Ridgeback. They are good with children, but will not tolerate everything. The children must be taught to respect the dog! Their natural protectiveness might cause problems when strange children come over to play and there is a lot of screaming and yelling in the house.
If you want militairy discipline in your house, a dog that obeys your every command, please do yourself and the dog a favour, and find another breed (I would suggest a GSD or a Rottweiler). If you can respect and enjoy an independant mind the ridgeback will fit right in with your family.
Inside, they are quite lazy dogs, who will like nothing better then a warm, soft bed, close to their owners (preferably the couch!). They are NOT suitable for kennel-life, or a life outside!! Firstly, because they need a lot of socialising. If they are left outside, with little human company, they will start to distrust people and act aggressively. Secondly, with their "bred-for Africa" short coats and low percentage of body fat, they are not very resistant to cold or wet wheater. (in fact, they hate it!)
Outside, they are active and sometimes quite wild! They like to play rough" which not every other dog will enjoy. They are very fast and agile, and need plenty of off-leash exercise. Most Ridgebacks are still hunters", they will chase (and probably catch) rabbits, hare and maybe even the neighbours cats! If a Ridgeback is not properly trained, it might also try to bark at strangers, to "keep them at bay" as they were bred to do, not so many generation ago, with wild animals. All of these behaviours can however, be controled IF you know what you are doing! Do not think you can correct it with force or punishment, in stead focus on keeping the dogs attention at yourself.
A Ridgeback is not a cheap dog to keep. They need a good quality food, preferably with fresh meat and vegetables every now and then. They do well on most commercial dog foods, but if you want your dog to be really healthy, try a more "natural" way of feeding, for example (in Holland) with RODI. Fortunatly, most Ridgebacks are healthy animals (if they come from good breeders), but veterinairy bills can be very high with any dog!
A Ridgeback is a unique dog, still a bit primitive and close to nature. If you can respect that you will have something really special in your house. Respect the intelligence, the unique sense of right and wrong, the independant mind and you will have a friend for life.
If, having read this, you have decided the Ridgeback is definitly the breed for you, keep on reading!
As in most breeds, hereditairy diseases exist in this breed. Before contacting a breeder please read the article on Dermoid Sinus at this site:
Lately, we have encountered another problem in Holland; elbow dysplasia (OCD and LPC). Although there are not many reported cases yet, we can expect to see more of this in the future. In many other countries elbow dysplasia has been a problem for a while, and a lot of breeders not only X-ray hips, but also elbows.
In stead of waiting for the problem to expand,I believe very strongly that we should start submitting elbow X-rays to the Hirschfeld foundation to get better insight in the existence of this very nasty disease in our breed.
When contacting a breeder for information on his or hers breeding stock, please make sure you ask about their health screening. Hips SHOULD be x-rayed and only animals with a score of - (negative) or TC (transitional case) should be bred. Make sure you see the papers yourself! Ask them if they also X-ray the elbows. Not many do yet, but if you care about the health and well being of these beautiful dogs, only buy from a breeder who does!
Other health problems include skin disease (allergies and demodectic mange) and, in the case of the USA, thyroid problems.
Exterior and appearance
Most people who just want a pet say they dont care much for dog shows and judging dogs by the way they look. However, think about this: Why do you want a RR, what attracted you in this breed? Certainly, the first thing you noticed was their beautiful looks?! Would you like to own a RR who looks like a RR?
Well, you have the breeders that show their dogs to thank for the way the breed looks right now. Without comparison, without a way to judge our breeding stock we might not have a breed at all. Although not the most important part of judging a dog for its breeding suitability, the appearance does matter.
The exterior of a dog also affects the way it moves. We all like our dogs to be agile, fast and have great endurance. It takes good structure to achieve this and the way to judge structure is, of course, to show the dog!
It does not take that much time and effort to show a dog occasionally. If a breeder does not have "time to show", how can they have time to raise a litter? Why wont they put their dogs in the ring with the others and see how they compare? And dont let them tell you they can judge their dogs by themselves, they dont need somebody elses opinion. If their dogs are truly deserving to be bred, they should be able to aquire the minimum qualifications the Dutch RR Club has set (2 x U, or Excellent).
Nobody will question the importance of temperament, for both pet and show dogs. Unfortunatly, this is a major problem in the breed. Shyness and insecurity (and aggression as a result!) are causing the breeds bad reputation. Bad handling, useless shouting, bad use of choke collars and lack of knowledge of many owners and breeders contribute to the problem even more.
PLEASE, when visiting a breeder, talk about this. Try to get a picture of both parents temperament. Make sure you meet as many family members as possible. Bad temperament can be due to genetics and/ or bad socialisation. DO NOT buy a puppy that has spent the first most important weeks of his life restricted to a kennel area! A young puppy needs to be around people, other animals and different surroundings.
Where to buy your puppy
The Dutch RR Club offers a puppy mediation service for breeders who X- ray their breeding animals, show their dog to a minimum of 2 x U and fulfill a few other requirements regarding the well being of their dogs.
The safest way to buy a puppy is by calling the club and asking for addresses of Club breeders. However, there are, even among these breeders, still a few differences. Do not buy from the first breeder you speak to right away. Visit several, compare what you saw, make sure you share the breeders views on, for example, the culling of puppies. Expect the breeder to ask YOU a lot of questions. Every good breeder cares about his puppies and wants to make sure they get the best possible homes. Do they take the dog back if something should happen and you cant look after it anymore? Will they be available for help and guidance while you try to raise your puppy? If you select a good breeder, you will have someone to help you as long as your dog lives!!
pictures of a puppy afflicted with Dermoid Sinus