The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog of
formidable power, dedication and courage. He claims an ancient heritage,
yet is of relatively recent linage in terms of standardization of the
Today's Ridgeback is descended from a
variety of breeds which were crossed by settlers of South Africa and
Rhodesia with the native dogs of the Hottentot tribe. The ridge became
his identifying mark.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback survived in
various forms through the years because of his superb hunting ability.
In addition to trailing and tracking large animals, he was also used to
hold his quarry at bay. He was the protector of game wardens, farm
families and hunters throughout South Central Africa, where the breed
developed into it's present form.
From it's origin in Africa, the
Ridgeback has lost none of his abilities as a hunter and guardian and he
continues to be an excellent companion. The Ridgeback is a devoted
family dog, totally loyal to his master. He is rather aloof and
undemonstrative towards strangers.
This is the Rhodesian Ridgeback, a dog
of incorruptible, independent character, who takes his responsibilities
of companionship, protection and family dedication to heart. He never
forgets love and understanding, nor does he lightly forgive harsh
treatment. He is a dog of noble bearing, whose physical attributes
should reflect his role as guardian, companion and hunter.
The Ridgeback represents a strong,
muscular and active dog, 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
represents the perfect balance between power and elegance. The power
should come from soundness and conditioning, not from excessive size.
The elegance comes from style, presence and carriage. The Ridgeback
should give a clean appearance with body lines blending smoothly. A
male should be masculine, not coarse or cumbersome. A bitch should
be feminine but strong, not weak or delicate.
The Ridgeback is an athletic dog,
clean-muscled, upstanding, well balanced and smooth in outline, a
dog intended to hold large and dangerous game at bay. He is agile,
quick, light on his feet and intelligent enough to stay out of
harm's way, brave enough to defend his master.
SIZE, PROPORTION, SUBSTANCE
A mature Ridgeback should be
symmetrical in outline, slightly longer than tall but well balanced.
Dogs, 25-27 inches in height; Bitches, 24-26 inches in height. Desirable
weight: Dogs, 85 pounds; Bitches, 70 pounds.
weight should be a guideline. Appropriate weight should correspond
with the height and bone structure of the dog/bitch. A heavier-boned
animal may weigh more, a finer-boned animal less than the 85/70
pound ideal as described in the Standard. A mature Ridgeback should
be slightly longer than tall. The back should be strong and firm.
The length should be carried in the rib area, allowing for ample
room for heart and lungs. The well-coupled loin is neither too long
nor too short, but well balanced with the rest of the dog. A long
loined dog may be fast, but he lacks the ability to stop, turn and
maneuver which is required by the Standard. Overall balance and
symmetry is most important.
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. 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
Elaboration: The head must
be in proportion with the rest of the body. The backskull is flat,
never domed, free from wrinkles when in repose. When the ears are
brought forward in an alert position, the skin is furrowed with
expressive wrinkles on the backskull between the ears and above and
between the eyes. The planes of the backskull and muzzle are
parallel and equal in length. Cheeks are clean and flat, not rounded
or bulging. The head should never give a wedge shaped impression.
Eyes: The eyes should be spaced
moderately well apart, rounded, bright and sparkling with
intelligent expression, not small, recessed nor sunken. The color
should harmonize with the pigmentation of the dog. Black-nosed
(pigmented) dogs should have a brown to dark brown eye. Liver or
brown-nosed dogs should have an amber-colored eye, with preference
given to the darker shades of brown or amber. Yellow eyes on a
black-nosed dog are undesirable.
Ears: When the ears are brought
forward to attention, they are raised even with the top of the head.
The ears should hang close to the head and cheek, flaring outward to
frame the head.
Muzzle: The muzzle is long, deep
and powerful and finishes up fairly full in width, strong in
underjaw. Depth of muzzle should be in the muzzle itself, not in the
leather of the lips alone.
Bite: Scissors bite is preferred,
but a level bite will occasionally be found and is acceptable.
Emphasis must be placed on the development and proper position of
NECK, TOPLINE, BODY
The neck should be fairly strong and
free from throatiness. 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.
Elaboration: Neck, Chest and
Body: The neck should be fairly long and elegantly arched.
Throatiness or a ewe neck should be penalized accordingly to the
severity. A chest that is too wide or too narrow is inefficient and
hinders speed and diminishes endurance. The brisket on a mature dog
should reach well to the elbow.
Topline and Tail: The topline flows
smoothly from the top of the head down the neck and over the
shoulders. The point above the shoulders is the highest point of the
backline, never lower than the loin or hindquarters, standing or
moving. The back is firm, standing or moving- neither swayed nor
roached. The loins are strong. The arch of the loin should not be
exaggerated. The croup is neither flat nor steep but blends smoothly
and finishes out with the tail set neither too high not too low.
Standing, the tail may fall between the hocks or may be tucked
towards the abdomen. A kink or dud joint is considered undesirable,
as is a tight curl.
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.
Elaboration: Shoulders: The
shoulder blades should be long, well laid back and sloping: upper
arm is of equal length and placed so that the elbow falls directly
under the withers.
Forelegs: The bone of the front
legs should have plenty of substance, more so when viewed from the
side than from the front. The pasterns should be strong and slightly
Feet: The feet should be well
knuckled up with thick pads. Flat, thin-padded and splayed feet are
In the hindlegs, the muscles should be
clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet as in front.
Elaboration: The strong,
elastic muscles of the hind legs should be carry well into the inner
and lower thighs. The stifles are moderately well bent. Hocks should
be well let down and straight from hock to pad. Rear angulation
should balance and compliment the front. The muscling should be
clean and well defined, denoting speed and agility.
Should be short and dense, sleek and
glossy in appearance but neither wooly nor silky.
Elaboration: Puppies usually
have heavier coats than adults. More densely coated dogs may exhibit
pellet- like molting patterns throughout the coat which should not
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.
Elaboration: A Ridgeback
hair is banded, lighter at the base, darker at the tip. The color
may range from light wheaten (buff) through various shades of gold
to red wheaten; all shades are acceptable. Lighter wheaten
highlights are usually noted over the shoulder blades.
Clear-faced dogs or dogs with black
on the muzzle, ear and around the eyes are equally acceptable.
However, these black points should not continue as a solid mask over
the eyes. Ridgebacks with black pigmentation may have black hair
interspersed throughout the coat; dark brown hair may be seen on a
liver/brown-nosed dog. If the amount of black or dark brown is
excessive, it is undesirable.
Our standard does not condemn
white. Some white is permissible and excessive white is not
desirable. Small socks and white on the chest on an otherwise typey,
sound dog should not eliminate him from consideration. The scale of
points allows 5 points out of 100 to Coat and Color. Emphasis should
be placed on the general conformation. To quote from
Maj.T.C.Hawley's definitive work The Rhodesian Ridgeback, "We must,
at all costs, avoid a fetish that white is taboo."
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. 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.
Serious Fault: one crown (whorl) or more than two crowns (whorls).
Elaboration: The Standard is
very precise regarding the ridge. The ridge is located on the dog's
back. Any variation in length of ridge or placement of crowns
(whorls) is incorrect and is to be considered a fault. The amount of
variation and the severity of the fault is up to the individual
assessing the dog. The width of the ridge is immaterial.
Occasionally there will be a parting of hair at the top of the
ridge. This is not to be considered a fault unless it contains a
complete crown (whorl). Please note illustrations. A ridgeless dog
is to be disqualified.
ridges may be commonly seen in the ring and are
*The width of the ridge is immaterial.
*Disqualification - Ridgelessness.
*Serious faults - One crown (whorl) or more than two
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.
Elaboration: The trot should
be effortless and flowing, covering the maximum amount of ground
with the least amount of effort. As speed increases, the legs angle
inward toward a center line beneath the body. The head is carried
slightly above the level of the back, the backline remains level and
firm, never high in the rear or loin. The tail blends smoothly,
carried slightly above the level of the back, never gay nor curled.
At all speeds the gait is effortless, rhythmic and smooth, denoting
efficiency, presence and style.
Dignified and even-tempered. Reserved
fearless, intelligent, reserved with strangers, yet accepting of his
master's judgment. In the show ring, a reserved attitude should not
be confused with shyness. Unnecessary aggression is not to be