Breed Specifics

Differences Between Ridgebacks and Other Breeds

I  cannot stress the fact that Ridgebacks are a unique breed. They are  very rough-and-tumble.... if you have two Ridgeback puppies playing in front of you for the first time you could swear they are trying to do some damage. This breed has been  known to survive snake bites that would probably kill many other dog  breeds, and they make great dogs for everything from jogging partners in the suburbs to therapy dogs, and from  trail riding companions to police cadaver dogs. They can be fierce enough to hunt a lion in the African wilderness  and gentle enough to play with a child on the living room rug.   

Ridgebacks are a breed apart and there are few veterinarians who are  extremely familiar with them at all life stages.  This information should help you to be aware of certain breed specifics  when you take your dog to a veterinarian for the first time.  Many veterinarians are simply not familiar with this breed and will tell  you various things that are not true regarding the breed  specifics because they are comparing them to other breeds. This is an  explanation of certain characteristics specifically associated  with Rhodesian Ridgebacks and some interesting things that are different  between Ridgebacks as compared to other breeds.

Coat and Skin
They have short, thin coats until about 3-4 months of age when they  begin growing their adult hair coat. Their current hair coat when  they go to new homes is their puppy coat.  Ridgebacks have a thin,  single layer coat, especially on areas such as their belly, head,  and bony areas such as legs. It is similar to newborn baby hair or down.  Their hair will always be thinner than most breeds, but it  does change slightly as they grow from a puppy into an adult. They were  bred for warm climates and this thin hair helps keep them cool.  Their skin is thick and this is evident when they are given  vaccinations.

One thing I wanted to address is a question that comes up every now and  then - It is not unusual for Ridgeback adults and puppies to  get calluses on their elbows or the bony parts of their legs. All dogs  get these if they spend any amount of time laying on a rough or  hard surface, but it is easily noticeable on Ridgebacks because of how  short their coats are. This can be lessened by them having their  own doggy bed and spending minimal time laying around outdoors or on a  hard, rough surface. But it will not hurt them, it is the body's  way of protecting the bony areas.

Feet, Legs, and Gait
Rhodesian Ridgeback's front feet are more like individual toes. You will  notice they use their paws a lot when they play with other  dogs. This instinct was used to keep predators and prey at bay while  hunting.

Ridgeback's legs are designed to run from a standstill. This gives them  their unique gait that is different than any other dog breed.  They move in long, determined strides and their front paws are wide and  thick with very thick pads. This can make them somewhat clumsy  when they are babies until they grow into their paws.

Ridgebacks are well-known for their appetites and for eating all the  food they can. They will literally eat themselves sick if they  are free-fed (as much as they want). This probably correlates to the  wild part of their history when they were in the wild and had to  eat when they could, and didn't necessarily get to eat every day while  on the hunt. Whatever the reason, we have owned dogs from many  different bloodlines and all of them love to eat.  Suggestion: Do not leave your dog food stored where the puppy can get to  it. Most new owners find this out the hard way.

I am always happy to address any other breed specific questions that may  come up when owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback for the first time!    

This advice is given solely as a means of educating individuals; all  vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and general medicine should be  discussed with a licensed Veterinarian before administering. I do not  recommend leaving any dog unsupervised with a young child.



We feed all our dogs Victor brand dog food (  Victor dog food is an all  natural food with No corn, No wheat, No soy, No gluten, No by-products,  No artificial colors, and No preservatives. They eat less of it because  it is easily  digested and therefore there is also less waste! This food is processed  100% in the United States from locally grown meat and vegetables and is  based out of Texas.  It has natural glucosamine which is also important for a large breed  dog's joints. It is produced in Texas which takes away the national  brand name fee  we pay for store bought dog food. They have also never been involved in a  recall and have earned a 5 star review from the Dog Food Advisor. 

Our puppies are weaned using a combination of goat's milk, yogurt, and  moist puppy food. The plain yogurt adds natural enzymes that aid in  digestion along with  friendly bacteria. We gradually change them over to a dry food so by the  time they are in their new homes they are eating it completely. The  choice of their diet  then relies on their new owners. We recommend a dry puppy food with some  type of named meat as the first ingredient such as chicken, beef, lamb,  venison, etc.  Corn is a cheap filler and can cause dry coats when used as the first  ingredient. We understand the urge to feed human food to them, but this  can cause fatty  deposits under their skin as well as digestive and other problems so it  is not recommended. Canned food can be added as a treat, but their main  diet should  consist of dry food to aid in keeping their teeth clean and free of  tartar buildup. Each of our adult dogs have been given a Greenie a day since we  brought them home. Their teeth shine and they have never needed  professional dental help.    

Victor dog food is now becoming available nationwide and is also available through some websites such as

"King", a puppy from one of our past litters.

"King", a puppy from one of our past litters.


Vaccinations in dogs save lives and  are one of the most important parts of owning a dog. Not only does it  build their immunity and protect them from dangerous and potentially  deadly diseases  and viruses, but the rabies vaccination is required by law.  

All of our puppies leave us up to date on vaccinations for their age. If  placed before 16 weeks of age, their vaccination schedule will need to  be completed by  their new owner.  

Vaccination schedules and recommendations vary from country to country,  in other states, and even between veterinarians. Our recommended  schedule is below. All  medicine should be discussed with a licensed veterinarian before  administering. 

6 Weeks (1st) Puppy 5-way & 9 Weeks (2nd) Puppy 5-way For protection against Canine  Distemper, Canine Adenovirus, Canine Parainfluenza, and  Canine Parvovirus. Also cross-protects against respiratory infection caused by  infectious canine hepatitis (CAV-1). 

12 Weeks (3rd) Puppy 10-way & 16 Weeks (4th) Puppy 10-way A preventative for the common  diseases Canine Distemper, Canine Adenovirus,  Canine Parainfluenza, and Canine Parvovirus. The diluent  contains killed antigens for Leptospira  Canicola-Grippotyphosa-Icterohaemorrhagiae-Pomona bacterial extract. Also cross-protects against respiratory infection caused by  infectious canine hepatitis (CAV-1). 

This advice is given solely as a means of educating individuals; all  vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and general medicine should be  discussed with a licensed  Veterinarian before administering. 

All puppies leave us current on vaccinations for their age.

All puppies leave us current on vaccinations for their age.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip  Dysplasia is defined by medterms online as "The abnormal formation of  the hip joint in which the ball at the top of the thighbone (the femoral  head) is not  stable within the socket (the acetabulum)." 

Hip dysplasia is  described by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals as being genetic.  This means that developing hip  dysplasia has more to do with genetics than environmental factors such  as repeated jumping, diet, exercise, etc. While these factors do  contribute to the severity  of dysplasia, it was probably already present due to genetic factors and  aggravated by environmental factors.  

However, large breed dogs are more at risk for hip dysplasia  because of their weight and the wear and tear placed on their joints.  Hip dysplasia can be verified by radiographs  taken when the dog is around 1 year of age, or even before this.  We ourselves do prelim testing through our vet.

While Rhodesian Ridgebacks are commonly tested for hip dysplasia,  according to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (at the time this is being written) only 4.8% of  Ridgebacks tested are dysplastic.    

This advice is given solely as a means of educating individuals; all  vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and general medicine should be  discussed with a licensed  Veterinarian before administering. 



While  the topic of parasites is not exactly nice to think about, it is  something every pet owner must deal with and a subject that needs to be  addressed.   

Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal  parasites are very common in puppies and dogs and are generally not  serious when dealt with and treated preventatively, but prevention is necessary for all  dogs. The most common of intestinal parasites are  hookworms and roundworms, but dogs can also be affected by whipworms,  tapeworms, coccidia, and giardia. 

All of our puppies are routinely wormed for  hookworms and roundworms  at 2, 3, 4, and 6 weeks of age, and also receive a routine broad spectrum parasite  preventative prior to leaving for new homes which includes being treated preventatively for giardia and coccidia. These are nasty parasites and we do not want our babies or their new families to have to deal with them.

Young  puppies are very susceptible to parasites and we recommend that a fecal  sample be taken at your puppy's first checkup as the stress brought on  by  rehoming can make them more susceptible to all parasites. It is common  for puppies to have parasites such as intestinal worms, and worming is a  normal part of  owning a puppy. They should be wormed routinely at 12 & 16 weeks after going to new homes,  then once a month until six months of age when they can be wormed every 3  months.    


Heartworms  are spread by mosquitos and can be deadly to dogs. By having your vet  prescribe heartworm prevention you could literally be saving your dog's  life. Heartworms  are spread by mosquitos that are infected with the larvae which is then  passed on to your dog when the mosquito bites. Heartworm prevention is  most commonly given  as a pill or topical treatment. Both forms are given once monthly.  Common forms of this preventative are Heartgard, Sentinel, Revolution,  Advantage Multi, etc.  Another form of heartworm preventative is an injection given every 6  months at your vet clinic.   

Other Parasites

Other  parasites include fleas, ticks, & mites. There are many treatments  for these parasites individually, but the easiest way to prevent and  control these is by  giving a broad spectrum preventative.  

Please talk with your vet regarding the treatment options available for your dog's needs.  

This advice is given solely as a means of educating individuals; all  vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and general medicine should be  discussed with a licensed  Veterinarian before administering. 

Dermoid Sinus

"Dermoid  sinuses are congenital abnormalities (present from birth) that consist  of hollow tubular indentations of the skin that penetrate down into the  tissue  below. They create problems because they are prone to infections. They  occur along the dorsal midline (centre of the back of the dog. The depth  these penetrate  into the tissue below varies between individuals. The type that pose the  greatest (life-threatening) risk are those, called category IV sinuses,  which connect  with the spinal cord and risk infections of this delicate nervous  tissue." Taken from the Universities Federation for  Animal Wellfare  

The dermoid sinus is generally something that is associated with the  Rhodesian Ridgeback breed although some rare instances of this condition  have been noted in  other breeds. The dermoid sinus is present in an average of 5% of all  Ridgebacks. This can be more or less in some bloodlines, but this is the  average. A puppy born  with a dermoid is not fit for breeding under any circumstances due to  the possible genetic occurence of the condition. Surgery can correct the  problem if the  dermoid is only present in the above-lying ligament, but if the  dermoid sinus penetrates to the spinal cord there is no guarantee the  dog will not acquire an infection at a later date. 

All of our puppies are checked routinely for dermoid sinus and come with a 24-month guarantee against it as well.

This advice is given solely as a means of educating individuals; all  vaccinations, heartworm prevention, and general medicine should be  discussed with a licensed  Veterinarian before administering.