Rhodesian Ridgeback: Features of Genetic Abnormalities

A kind, penetrating look from wise, understanding eyes. Proud landing of a light head. Refined lines of a powerful muscular body. Unsurpassed strength and courage, compressed into a ball of steel. And it’s all about him, the Rhodesian Ridgeback. A true king of beasts, Lord of lions.

This truly unique breed of dog is relatively young. It was first recognized and registered in 1924 By the South African Kennel Club as the only but striking achievement of African cynology. And the background of Ridgebacks is not only very, very old in time, but also very extensive geographically, covering the space from ancient Egypt to ancient Ethiopia…

And now this strong beautiful dog continues to conquer the world! The turn of the century of the past and present – its finest hour in our Country. Ridgeback combines the best qualities of both hounds and guard dogs.

Why ridge? Why Beck?

In nature, there are very few species of animals whose hair grows in the opposite direction. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also marked by this unique phenomenon. In them, along the back (“Beck”), part of the coat forms a long strip forming a ridge (“ridge”), thanks to this surprisingly rare biological feature.

This is an unusual “decoration”, and the object of the requirements of the breed standard, and a source of major trouble for the owners of the ridge.

“What we fought for, we ran into»

Not so long ago, foreign geneticists published the results of studies that revealed a gene responsible for both the formation of ridge and the manifestation of a hereditary disease, dermoid sinus. This is not surprising, experienced breeders have long noticed: where more puppies are born without a ridge (this also happens), there are fewer manifestations of dermoid sinus.

This hereditary disease is most common in Ridgebacks. It is associated with ridge formation and is similar to spina bifida in humans. It is usually detected at birth by most breeders and some veterinary surgeons.

The dermoid sinus manifests itself as a thin thread-like channel that originates from the surface of the skin and descends to the vertebrae. It usually runs along the midline between the occipital bone and the beginning of the ridge, or from the end of the ridge and down to the tail. Nevertheless, according to some foreign breeders, sinuses left a mark on the surface of the epithelium and in other places, for example, in the buccal region. Moreover, some animals may have several such sinuses, causing a strong abscess in the affected area.

Sad “adventures” of Ridgebacks in Australia and America

The inflammatory process, when the dying epithelium, hair and fat cells accumulate freely in the canal, often reaches too serious a scale. Then the only panacea is surgery. Even a carefully, scrupulously performed operation to remove the accumulated purulent masses in the canal does not always give the maximum effect.

The success of breeders inspires some optimism, but the path to reducing the occurrence of dermoid sinus is more like wandering in the night. After all, the specific hereditary mechanism of transmission of this disease has not been completely revealed. Therefore, the most effective way to stop its spread is to strictly reject sick dogs and prevent them from further breeding.

It is not surprising that many countries are resorting to more drastic measures. For example, in recent years in Australia, most of the affected animals have been euthanized. In the US, only 52% of dogs.

Where thin, there and torn

With a generally strong immune system, strong endurance, and high resistance to many diseases, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a problem breed. But, alas, this happy circumstance does not apply to hereditary diseases.

As a rule, those organ systems that experience the greatest physical stress suffer first, namely:

  • musculoskeletal system.

This group of inherited Ridgeback diseases includes hip, shoulder, and elbow dysplasia, tail fracture, and dental abnormalities. Currently, in many countries, most of these dogs are x-rayed for hip dysplasia before they start breeding. More than twenty years of breeding work in the United States has reduced the incidence of dogs from 11.8% to 3.4%;

  • cardiovascular system.

For the most part, these dogs have heart diseases that are diagnosed by veterinarians by detecting noises caused by a variety of different heart problems. Among the most common heart defects are open ductus arteriosus (also seen in humans), cardiomyopathy, and subaortic stenosis. It is not recommended to breed animals with such diseases;

  • hormonal.

Among the main problems is hypothyroidism as a result of an autoimmune disease that destroys the thyroid gland. As well as autoimmune diseases such as Addison’s disease, hyperadrenocorticism, autoimmune hemolytic anemia, systemic lupus erythematosus, and degenerative myelopathy.

The visual, digestive, and sexual systems also suffer.

But in General, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a breed of dog whose representatives will bother their owners with endless illnesses. But under one main condition. If loving owners will carefully adhere to specific recommendations concerning first of all the correct choice of a puppy. A healthy inheritance of a pet plus its cultivation with the use of balanced physical activity and nutrition system is the key to solving many problems before they occur.