Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks Born with the Ridge?

If you’re purchasing a new pup or even thinking about becoming a licensed breeder, you may well be wondering whether or not Rhodesian Ridgebacks are born with the ridge.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks tend to be expensive to buy, but their long-term costs (in terms of vet and grooming visits) are reasonable.

The Situation regarding Rhodesian Ridgebacks being born with the ridge

A certain number of Ridgebacks are born without the ridge. This is due to a faulty genetic mutation (see source linked below).

Most reputable breeders are trying to resolve it.

One favorite trick of a certain few unscrupulous breeders is to claim that if the ridge isn’t there that it will grow in later.

Be careful of that con because that’s not how the ridge works.

The Science Behind the Ridge

People who have never seen a Rhodesian Ridgeback before tend to assume that it’s a deep scar or that the dog had major surgery.

However, the ridge is simply a part of the hair that grows in the opposite direction of the rest of the hair.

The exact origin of the ridge is not known but it is believed to be a result of centuries of mutations. It’s a dominant rather than a recessive mutation.

Geneticists who study the ridge have discovered that only one parent has to have it for it to be passed down to the puppies.

Ridgebacks that do have ridges are either heterozygous or homozygous. The first possesses one copy of the gene while the homozygous ones have two.

Though it’s impossible to tell which one a single dog is just by looking at it.

When two heterozygous dogs are bred together, the puppies have a 25 percent chance of being non-ridged and a 50 percent chance of being ridged and heterozygous.

The litters also have a 25 percent chance of being ridged and homozygous. When those are bred, all of their puppies will have the ridge no matter what.

It only takes one copy of the ridge gene to pass it onto the puppies. Since they have two copies of the ridge gene, it ends up being passed on.

When a homozygous is bred with a heterozygous, all of the puppies will still be ridged.

However, their chances of being homozygous or heterozygous are exactly equal.

Frequently Asked Questions about Rhodesian Ridgebacks

About Ridgeless Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Approximately one out of 200 puppies are born ridgeless. As a result, they’re not as common as they used to be.

Naming a new Rhodesian ridgeback puppy? We’ve got you covered.

“Ridgeless” Rhodesian ridgebacks have an unfortunate history of being undesirable. Throughout time, ridgeless puppies were often euthanized automatically.

The main reason was that it was believed that the ridge was the ultimate sign of stronger hunting instincts.

Ridgebacks were first bred in South Africa and then Europeans eventually got ahold of some of them. The rate of euthanizing ridgeless puppies was particularly high with them.

Unfortunately, the practice has not been completely eliminated.

However, most reputable breeders are recognizing that the ridgeless ones are all the same in every other way.

The only other disadvantage of being ridgeless is that they can’t participate in the American Kennel Club‘s Conformation or the regular Lure Coursing.

However, they can earn titles in every other category, including the straight line lure coursing.

Ridgeless Ridgebacks have equal strength in herding farm or ranch livestock.

Ridgeless puppies are often born with a darker color trail where the ridge would normally be. This darker color usually disappears with time.

Are There Any Other Differences Between the Ridged and the Ridgeless?

From what most breeders and owners have reported, no. Both tend to have the same stubbornness and resistance to training.

They’re both very intelligent and have strong herding and hunting instincts.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Ridge in this Breed

Have ridgeless and ridgeless produced ridged puppies?

Ridgeless dogs don’t carry the ridge gene at all so when any of them have puppies, their puppies don’t have the ridges, either.

There have been some claims that breeding two ridgeless dogs resulted in ridged puppies.

However, those making such claims have never been able to show any hard evidence of it.

Is the crown or whorls due to any type of specific genetic enhancement?

Geneticists, unfortunately, don’t have the means to narrow that down yet. But some elements do seem to modify the ridge’s shape, length, and width.

Is a genetic marker test available to check for the ridge genome?

Not quite yet. The University at California Davis’s study has found the general residence of the ridge genome.

They just haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact location yet.

Is the goal to eliminate ridgeless completely?

Hopefully not.

It is believed that Ridgebacks are descended from the Khoikhoi dogs of Southern Africa. Not all of their population was ridged.

There have already been too many attempts to standardize dominant genes and they have led to some very undesirable results.

Among the worst being too many stillbirths.

Final Thoughts

Again, approximately one out of 200 ridgeless puppies is born from a ridged parent.

Ridgelessness is due to a faulty genetic mutation. They have a history of being undesirable due to a belief that it meant weaker hunting instincts.

That has since been found not to be the case. However, many breeders are still trying to do away with faulty mutations.

However, that will hopefully not mean the total elimination of ridgeless.

One favorite trick of the unscrupulous breeders is to claim that the ridgeless puppies will grow a ridge later. But this is completely untrue.

If a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy is born without a ridge, it will never grow one.

It is true that ridgeless puppies tend to be born with a darker pigmentation where the ridge would be.

However, it usually disappears with time.

The chances of the mother having ridgeless puppies depend on both her and her mate’s genetics.

Naturally, it’s most likely to occur when both of the parents are ridgeless. There have been some claims otherwise but no hard evidence has been produced.

Otherwise, there’s a mixed chance with a higher one that her puppies will be ridged.

This is actually because it takes only one copy of the ridged gene for the offspring to inherit it.

Genetic marker tests that reveal exactly how likely a puppy is to be ridged has not been invented yet. The exact location of the genome isn’t known at this time.

The most important thing to remember is that other than not having the ridge, the ridgeless dogs tend to be the same in both appearance and temperament.

Source: The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States