Standards for Rhodesian Ridgeback

Brief History of the Rhodesian Ridgack
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is presently the only registered breed indigenous to Southern Africa. Its forbears can be traced to the Cape Colony of Southern Africa, where they crossed with the early pioneers' dogs and the semi-domesticated, ridged, Hottentot hunting dogs. Hunting mainly in groups of two or three, the original function of the Rhodesian Ridgeback, or Lion Dog, was to track game, especially lion, and with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival of the hunter.

The original standard, which was drafted by F R Barnes, in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, in 1922, was based on that of the Dalmatian and was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1926.

General Apperance
The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well-balanced, strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in outline, and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed. The emphasis is on agility, elegance and soundness with no tendency towards massiveness.

The peculiarity of the 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 is the escutcheon of the breed. The ridge must be clearly defined, symmetrical and tapering towards the haunch. It must start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to the hip (haunches) bones. The ridge must contain only two crowns, identical and opposite each other. The lower edges of the crowns must not extend further down the ridge than one-third of its length.

Behaviour and Temperment
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is dignified and intelligent. They are often aloof with strangers, but should not show aggression or shyness.

Head: Cranial region
The skull should be of a fair length (width of head between ears, distance from occiput to stop, stop to end of nose, should be equal). The skull should be flat and broad between the ears and the head should be free from wrinkles when in repose.

Head: Facial Region
The nose should be black or brown (brown is called livernose). A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown nose by amber eyes. The muzzle should be long, deep and powerful. The lips should be clean, closely fitting the jaws and the jaws strong, with a perfect and complete scissor bite and well developed teeth. The cheeks should be clean. The eyes moderately well apart, round bright and sparkling, with an intelligent expression. Ears should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at base, and gradually tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head. the neck should be fairly long, strong and free from throatiness (not to much loose skin).

The Body
  • Back - Powerful.
  • Loins - Strong, muscular and slightly arched, powerful.
  • Chest - Not too wide but very deep and capacious and brisket should reach to the elbow.
  • Forechest - Visible when viewed from the side.
  • Ribs - Moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel-hoops.
  • Tail - Strong at the root and gradually tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should be of moderate length. It should not be inserted too high nor too low, and should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled.
  • Limbs - Forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and well boned, with the elbows close to the body. When viewed from the side, the forelegs should be wider than when viewed from the front. Pastems should be strong with slight spring.
  • Shoulders - Sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed.
  • Feet - Compact and round, with well arched toes, and tough elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads.
  • Hindquarters - Muscles should be clean, well defined, good turn of stifle and strong hocks well let down.
Gait and Movement
Straight forward, free and active.

Hair should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance, but neither woolly nor silky.

Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes is permissible, but excessive white hairs here, on belly, or above toes is undesirable. A dark muzzle and ears permissible. Excessive black hairs throughout the coat are highly undesirable. Note: puppies are often born with excessive black hair. Generally, the excess black fades by 8 to 16 weeks.

The desirable heights are:
Dogs 25 inches to 27 inches
Bitches 24 inches to 26 inches

The desirable weights are:
Dogs 85 pounds
Bitches 70 pounds

Most faults are cosmetic only. They place the dog into a pet category, but have no effect on the companion value of the dog (and the dog could care less). Here are some examples of faults that are stictly cosmetic but will most likely prohibit the dog from being a winner in the show ring because they will be point markdowns.
  • Single crown, misplaced crowns, more then 2 crowns.
  • White marking on the side, under the jaw, above the toes.
  • Curled tail or kinked tail.
  • Ears too short, to high, to far back.
  • Feet turned slightly out, front or rear.
  • Snippy nose (not flat on end)

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