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Rhodesian Ridgeback - questions concerning the breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback, often called African lions hunter dog comes from the South Africa. He is a strong, little demanding dog bred by the African farmers. As a "utility" dog he had to meet many requirements, among others: hunting skills, chasing and knocking down the wounded game; protecting farms against preying beasts and other attackers; resistant to illnesses, drastic changes of temperature; short hair in order not to be eaten live by ticks; resistant to lack of water.

What are Rhodesians like towards children? Other animals? As guarding dogs?

Rhodesians are great company for children to play with, tolerant to the verge of dog possibilities, resistant to the craziest ideas of little kids. However, one should remember that you can never leave a little kid without care near the dog; particularly due to their size the young and playful Ridgebacks could knock the child unintentionally and cause an accident. Ridgebacks go on very well with other dogs, they are very sociable animals. However, one should avoid having a couple of males, because it often raises a conflict and fight for dominance (similarly as in the case of other dog breeds). They get on with cats or even rabbits, provided that they have a separate living space in such important spheres as eating and sleeping. Rhodesians co-live very well with horses, well trained are great companions during horse riding. Rhodesians are natural guards and defenders of a family; they only require a consequent training, treatment and control from the master.

Are they noisy? Do they have any unpleasant traits?

Rhodesians bark only when there is a serious reason for doing so (unless they acquire bad habits out of boredom). It should be checked why Rhodesian alarms, surely not without a reason. Due to the above, our neighbours would not complain; a well-trained Rhodesian will not weary the neighbours with barking or what is worse howling. Rhodesians are very good jumpers thus an appropriate fencing should be arranged. An adult Rhodesian should not ruin your garden with digging large holes. An exception would be a bored Rhodesian left at his own for hours in the garden. During heats such a hole would be a perfect anti-sun shelter... Bored Rhodesians may become roamers, can escape from the garden or during walks and disappear for long hours. It is his master duty to train him to be obedient and ensure enough exercising so as he would not arrange escapades ?on his own paw.?

Can Ridgebacks be kept at home?

In our climate zone Rhodesians even should be kept at home. As they are very clean dogs of faint smell and natural minimal hair loosing maintaining the house in cleanness should not cause problems. They do not squeak and do not make noise and are generally easy to adjust to living in a flat, provided that you ensure they have enough exercise. On the other hand they love sleeping on sofas and armchairs. Even if the master is trying to root out the habit, still often warm indent on the sofa just before he entered the room means that the dog ?respects? his master orders. One should take care of glassware as placed on a low table can be instantaneously wiped out with a happy wag of a tail.

What does it mean an appropriate amount of exercise in the case of a Rhodesian? On average, how much time should be dedicated to walking with a Rhodesian?

The more the better... Both for the Rhodesian and our health. Surely spending the whole days at the house garden, or what is worse lonely or short walk to the newspaper stand with the dog on the leash will not be enough for an average Rhodesian. And should you have any doubts as to what it is going to be like with the walks in our busy life, you should direct your interests to other breed or even species of domestic animals that do not require so much exercise. Rhodesian is perfect for active people. He is a great companion for long lazy walks, jogging and, if properly trained, a safe company during bicycle and horse riding. The absolute minimum is at least one hour long walk three times a week, it would be good if there were joined with playing, possibly with other dog. A good idea is finding someone with a dog in order to allow them run together. Additionally, we win new friends!

Are they active? Overactive?

Young Rhodesians are very active, when adult they get more sober. They seem to be equally happy running through a field and sleeping next to their master feet for long hours.

Are there any problems with feeding RR?

Not at all. Most of Rhodesians will first die than turn down their meal. They eat enthusiastically. One should rather control Rhodesian weight as to not allow for obesity. Sometimes it would be necessary to protect cupboards in the kitchen in a proper way, so as the wise dog could not attend himself.

Where does the ridge on back come from?

RR traces his origin back to primitive tribal dog of Hottentots, a dog with characteristic ridge of hair growing backwards on his back. European colonists immigrating in XVI to Africa appreciated traits of the African dog ? his hunter skills, temperament and adaptation to hard climate conditions of the African bush and started inter-crossing with the dogs they brought with them. They found out that crosses with the ?ridge ? have both the most required hunter traits and temperament, thus breeding directed at maintaining the ridge had been commenced. And in such a way, to cut it short, the breed Rhodesian Ridgeback was created.

Are they really used for hunting lions?

When the breed was imported to Rhodesia, the hunters appreciated its unique hunter traits. They found out that it is the only breed that can in a pack bay a lion and ... survive. At present, both in Africa and all over the world Rhodesian fulfil far responsible and universal tasks. Namely, they are good hunting dogs for big game, they help bush guards, are perfect as house guards and intrepid rescuers as well as irreplaceable family companions.

Do they endure low temperatures in winter?

Ridgebacks adapted to our moderate climate zone without any problems; they are also popular in the countries of Northern Europe and Canada, where winters are even severer compared to ours. Rhodesians feel great during a walk in a sunny day at the temperature of minus 25° C, however one should remember about smearing their paw balls with child oil or cosmetic Vaseline. The worst weather that any Rhodesian will not stand is when wind coupled with rain is lashing at a temperature of 0° C. Only after long negotiations will you be able to force him just to a 5 minutes walk. But it is also me that come back warm home with a great relief.

What are health problems related with the breed?

Fortunately, Rhodesians are the breed free from illnesses characteristic of other dog breeds, nevertheless like all medium breed dogs are endangered with dysphasia. Thus, while buying a pup you have to make sure they come from parents that obtained result A (free from dysphasia) or B (former A1 ? free from dysphasia, non-typical). To some extent the illness can result from crossing close relatives. Dermoid sinus ? this is a serious illness of genetic origin. In order to eliminate the illness one should not breed animals with diagnosed and operated sinus. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to diagnose the illness among pups just after they were born and by systematic examining the puppies till at least 14 day of their life. An experienced breeder should not have problems with diagnosis of the illness that irreversibly ends up in dogs suffering and a couple of operations that not always are successful. Lack of ridge ? does not constitute health problem, but a genetic one. Some breeders recommend putting pups without ridge to sleep. Pup ridge is well visible just after being born ? it cannot disappear to suddenly appear. It cannot develop further on either, buying a pup with a short or improper ridge you should expect a lower price.

How much do Rhodesians cost?

This is unfortunately the most frequently asked question. The price depends on the breed, quality of the animals crossed ? whether they have won any titles or are just average dogs. It also depends on the quality of the pup himself, thus looking for best breed quality dog do not expect a low price. One way or the other, looking for a dog companion for the next dozen years we should not only consider the price. Most of all, it is important what the breeder can offer us ? apart from the pup with a very good pedigree, character and good looks and heath, additional professional advice during the pup first weeks since his arrival and the years to come. Breeding consists in such pup, young dog and adult training as he would make the master happy and proud as opposed to unhappy and worried. The animals that originate from breeding will always be a source of proud and a ?business card? for the following years, it is important to appreciate the breeder efforts and present the dog during fairs that are nothing but breed reviews.

What is a breeding plan?

Breeding plan is a scheme by which the breeder  is planning in the near future and further development of his kennel . Breeding plan involves breeding progress. It is obvious that the progress in breeding  can not be called "keeping standard " or "avoid the disadvantages of health or breeding", these are the principles that should guide every breeder as a master.

Progress should be presented in the form of a name and number (measurable) and such improvement assume certain external characteristics (phenotype) and genetical  (genotype).

Progress can be expressed in figures obtained puppies without defects in subsequent litters or reduce the occurrence of defects.

It is important to make a choice of parental pairs using a number of methods: pedigree analysis for the presence of the desired characteristics, the analysis by comparing the (results of the dog shows), analysis by the quality of offspring ( observation of puppies from different mating , especially for the characteristics desired), analysis of the characteristics desired fixation (the frequency of the desired features in other combinations).