How To Judge The Ridgeback’s Unique Ridge

Ridgeback Judging

How To Judge The Ridgeback’s Unique Ridge – The Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Standard is one of the few remaining standards that utilizes a point system. The “ridge” is worth 20 points out of 100 on this scale. The ridge is the escutcheon, or hallmark, of our breed. Without revisiting too much history, our breed is descended from a native African dog that possessed a ridge of hair growing in the opposite direction on its back. European settlers selectively mixed this indigenous dog with a variety of different breeds to create the modern Ridgeback. The original name of the breed was the African Lion Dog, but it was renamed the Rhodesian Ridgeback to give emphasis to its defining characteristic.

The Ridge | Demystifying Ridgeback Judging Assignment

The Ridge | Demystifying Ridgeback Judging Assignment

Decades of mentoring judges and giving breed seminars has confirmed that many judges are confused by the ridge. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States has an excellent, recently revised PowerPoint presentation with a bounty of illustrations and photographs of ridges. Ridges in our presentation are categorized as: desirable, acceptable, and unacceptable. Ridgelessness is a disqualification; therefore, you will not see these dogs in the show ring. A ridge should contain two symmetrical whorls, or crowns. The ridge should start directly behind the shoulder blades and taper to a point between the hips. Serious faults, which should keep dogs from the show ring, include having only one crown, having more than two crowns, having badly off-set crowns, or having a very short ridge. The whorls of the ridge create a fan, or box, at the top of the ridge; the size of this fan is immaterial. There can be a parting of the hair at the top of this box and this should not be confused as being an extra crown.

The Ridge | Demystifying Ridgeback Judging Assignment

The Ridge | Demystifying Ridgeback Judging Assignment

Ridgeback Judging

The Ridge | Demystifying Ridgeback Judging Assignment

The Ridge | Demystifying Ridgeback Judging Assignment Ridgeback Judging

When adjudicating our breed, make sure the ridge is within the realm of acceptable, and then move on and judge the dog. Picture-perfect ridges may sit atop conformational disasters, and slightly imperfect ridges may grace structurally impressive animals.

When evaluating our breed, remember these priorities:

    1. Overall Impression—Athletic, Agile, Powerful, Upstanding, Balanced, and Handsome;
    2. Strong Bladed Bone, Oval Not Round;
    3. Ridge.

I encourage anyone interested in Ridgeback judging to avail themselves of our official presentation and to also seek out mentoring from RRCUS approved mentors.

  • I established Ivy League ridgebacks in 1981 while I was a sophomore in veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania. My foundation bitch CH.Copyline's Norma Rae went on to be a top 10, multiple group winning bitch. The first litter using the Ivy League prefix was bred in 1983. My program is low volume and high quality. All litters are born and raised in the home. I have been a member of the RRCUS since 1981. I am a past member of the Board of Directors of the RRCUS and I am on the Education Committee.I am the creator of RRCUS Bootcamp, an educatonal experience for the Ridgeback community. I am also on the board of the Mid Hudson Kennel Association. All dogs used in our breeding program have hip, elbow, thyroid, heart and eye, DM and EOAD screens. With very few exceptions, all of our breeding animals are AKC champions. To date, I have bred, owned or co-bred over seventy five champions. I breed a litter in my home every 2-3 years. I do not sell dogs over the internet. All prospective puppy owners must be interviewed in person. Since 2000 my best friend, from veterinary school, Dr.Susan Ralston has collaborated with me. Many of our litters are co-bred. Susan's support and dedication has helped me to achieve many of my breeding and showing successes.

  • Show Comments

  • P O’Brien

    Was kind of disappointed this article didn’t go further into the breed “standard.” I see far too many dogs winning that are huge, well beyond breed standard. Huge heads, huge bodies, nothing moderate about them.

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