Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks A Healthy Breed? - The Pets and Love

There are many breeds out there that resemble the Rhodesian Ridgeback in power and stature that are known to have issues. This leads us to the question are Rhodesian Ridgebacks a healthy breed?

With their large and powerful stature, impressive muscle, and speed the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the very picture of what we would expect a healthy dog to look like. However, there are many breeds out there that resemble the Rhodesian Ridgeback in power and stature that are known to have issues. This leads us to the question are Rhodesian Ridgebacks a healthy breed?

It would be very nice to give a simple yes or no answer to this question but it is not possible. The health of any breed of dog, or one particular dog for that matter, will depend on several factors. These are that the breed is bred responsibly, that the care provided for the dog in question is suitable, and finally that there are no accidents, or uncontrollable illnesses developed. To find out more read on.

Are There Any Breed Specific Problems In Rhodesian Ridgebacks?

Unfortunately yes, the Rhodesian Ridgeback, just like any other breed, is susceptible to several medical problems including:

  • Dermoid Sinus – Rhodesian Ridgebacks are well known for, and indeed named for, the ridge of hair that grows the wrong way down its spine. This is caused by an abnormality in the breed which is a tubular indentation over the spine. This indentation runs deep into the soft tissues of the breed which can cause infection, serious disease, and pain.
  • Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) – This is a form of bloat common in deep-chested breeds of dog such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback.
  • Elbow/Hip Dysplasia – A condition where the hip or elbow socket does not fully cover the ball portion of the adjoining bone. This causes the bone to pop out of its socket and become dislocated. Dislocation is not usually permanent and the bone will pop in and out of the socket randomly. Long-term dysplasia is a common cause of arthritis in dogs which is incredibly painful for them.
  • Hypothyroidism – This is where the thyroid gland does not provide enough thyroid hormone and leads to an underactive thyroid or low thyroid. Rhodesian Ridgebacks who suffer from this condition will be intolerant of the cold, will tire easily, have constipation, gain weight easily, and may even become depressed.
  • Deafness – Ear infections and possible deafness are common in all breeds with floppy ears and not just the domain of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. They are usually caused by a buildup of yeast and bacteria but can also be down to ear mites or something as simple as a blade of grass becoming lodged in the ear.

Are There Any Other Medical Issues Reported With Rhodesian Ridgebacks?

As with any breed of dog, there are always medical problems reported which may or may not be breed specific to the Rhodesian Ridgeback. After all, even ones that are quoted as breed specific do affect other breeds too, they are not exclusive to the Rhodesian Ridgeback alone.

For this very reason, the following is a list of the more common dog ailments which may or may not affect a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Please do not, however, be alarmed by any of these as the chances are your dog will never suffer from any of them. Forewarned, however, is forearmed as they say!

  • Atopy (allergic disease)
  • Panosteitis (growing pains)
  • Lumbosacral Transitional Vertebrae (spinal anomalies)
  • Onychodystrophy (nail disorders)
  • Glaucoma (optic nerve damage)
  • Soft Tissue Cancers (bone, muscle)
  • Cataracts (clouding of lens)
  • Entropion (eyelid deformity)

Are There Any Ways To Avoid Medical Issues In A Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Nothing will ever 100% guarantee that your Rhodesian Ridgeback will be healthy and stay healthy for life. However, there are some steps you can take to ensure the best chances of wellbeing. The first of these is to research thoroughly about the breed and ensure that you can provide a suitable home and care before purchasing one. We will cover care requirements shortly.

The second step you should take when adding a Rhodesian Ridgeback to your family is to ensure that you are sourcing one from a suitable environment. This may be from a breeder, kennel club registered breeder, rescue centre, but never from a puppy farm or mill!

Puppy farms are appalling places that do not provide the correct care for their dogs and are regularly guilty of interbreeding. This means that often the mother is mated with her sons and so on which leads to problems in genetics and medical conditions being prevalent.

Puppy farms and mills are usually highly recognisable as you will be unable to see the puppy with its parents and living conditions will be squalid. Puppy farms usually also have many different breeds of dogs that they are selling. Do not buy a puppy you suspect is in such circumstances no matter how tempting the urge to rescue it may be. Simply walk away and report what you have found to the correct authorities.

Should you decide to buy a Rhodesian Ridgeback from a genuine breeder or Kennel Club registered breeder you will still need to perform your due diligence. Ask to see the results of any health scheme tests that the sire and dam have undergone and ensure you understand the results. You should also ensure that you will be able to see at least the dam when visiting a breeder to choose your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy.

Rescuing a Rhodesian Ridgeback is admirable and a good route to take should you want to add an older dog to your family. In general, most dogs in rescue centres are older, puppies are a rarity. Just because they are coming from a rescue centre, however, does not mean they will not have any medical issues.

Talk to the rescue centre staff about the care they have received and possible medical issues they may already have. If you are not satisfied that the correct medical checks have been carried out on your potential new family member, carry out your own with an independent veterinary.

Once I Have My Rhodesian Ridgeback, How Do I Ensure They Stay Healthy?

There are many, many ways to ensure that your Rhodesian Ridgeback stays in the best possible health, one of which is to get them insurance that includes regular health checks. Pet insurance is highly recommended as illness in your beloved pet can be an extremely expensive experience. Be sure to inform your pet insurer, however, of any pre-existing medical conditions in your dog as not doing so can render the policy null and void.

Following ensuring that your new family member is well protected should they fall ill, you can now go about preventing possible illness and medical conditions. This is all down to the care that you provide for your Rhodesian Ridgeback. After all, prevention is far better than cure!

The diet that you feed your Rhodesian Ridgeback will play a huge part in how healthy they are and stay. Foods given should always contain a high protein percentage and should not be stuffed with fillers. A rough guide on checking this would be to check that the ingredients list has meat and vegetables listed as the first five entries.

You should also avoid feeding your Rhodesian Ridgeback human foods such as grapes, raisins, chocolate, yeast dough, nuts, onions, garlic, and alcohol. These can be extremely harmful to your dog as they do not metabolize food like we do. Be careful with treats also as they can be high in fats and lead to obesity.

Obesity is a huge problem in dogs as it can lead to all kinds of medical problems such as hip and joint problems, excess pressure on internal organs, cancer, diabetes, urinary bladder stones, and even premature death. A dog that is just 10% over its recommended body weight is categorised as fat whilst 20% over is obese!

You should also ensure that your Rhodesian Ridgeback has the opportunity to get plenty of exercise. This will help protect them from becoming obese and also ensure that their internal organs remain healthy too. Be aware that Rhodesian Ridgebacks need a lot of exercise which should include the opportunity to have a really good run. Twenty minutes, three times a day, is a rough guide to how much exercise a dog should be getting but you could at least double this for a Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Last, but not least are all the smaller ingredients in caring for your dog 101. These include keeping nails clipped, ears clean, coats well groomed, teeth clean, stimulating their brains, and providing flea and tick treatment. These are all highly important in keeping your Rhodesian Ridgeback in the peak of fitness and health.

What Should I Do If My Rhodesian Ridgeback Shows Sign Of Ill Health?

The best thing to do if your Rhodesian Ridgeback shows signs that it is ill is to seek veterinary care and advice just like you would seek the advice of your doctor if you were ill. This should be done in a timely manner so that any medical issue your dog has developed can be addressed and dealt with quickly. Rest assured with your veterinary’s help your Rhodesian Ridgeback will be back to being fighting fit in no time.

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