Glenaholm Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Glenaholm Kennel was founded by Mrs Phyllis McCarthy in 1949. We breed to preserve the original qualities that have captivated all Rhodesian Ridgeback owners from the beginning.


 Remember before you have a litter – kennel management 

  • Kennel must be thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant [we use swimming pool powder, being HTH].
  • Paint the whole kennel if the kennel is not tiled. i.e. paint the floor as well as the walls.
  • De-worm the pregnant mother check her inoculations and inoculate with a booster, before breeding her.
  • Also shampoo or use a good dog-dip to avoid fleas every week. If there are fleas then the bitch to be de-wormed every three weeks for three times. [it is normal to de-worm the bitch at about 5 weeks gestation]
  • All mattresses & blankets to be washed with disinfectant.
  • Extension cords & infra-red globes to be prepared
  • Basket & hot water bottles, and old towels, newspapers, scissors
  • Heater, if it is cold


At the birth

  • Keep the whelping room very warm
  • Have old towels, to wipe the puppy dry if the bitch doesn’t want to lick the pup. A pair of scissors to trim the umbilical cord if she chews it off too long is also handy.
  • Have a carpet on which she can whelp, or put down clean newspapers [thickly laid on the floor]
  • A great place for the whelping is in a bathroom shower recess – easy to clean, and it is a cosy corner for her to be in. NB. must be a minimum of 1 metre square in size
  • Time the birth of the pups. One every half an hour is normal, one every hour is slow but is okay
  • Boost her energy with a bowl of warm milk and two eggs beaten into the milk. This can be given after the third puppy, and then after every pup thereafter. This will give her energy.
  • Keep a reel of cotton ready to tie the umbilical cord close to the tummy if she has chewed the cord too close to the tummy, and there is continual bleeding.
  • When a weak pup is born, rub it gently and let her lick it. “Rescue” drops may help.
  • If she is suffering from a calcium shortage, she will want to lick and lick. This may be a good thing as it stimulates the pups.
  • A weak pup can be put onto a “warm” water bottle filled with warm tap water and definitely not with kettle water as this is far too hot.
  • It is a good thing to have only about 4 or 5 pups with her when she is busy producing a pup. The pups can be quickly put into the basket with the warm water bottle, which should have a towel over it to ensure comfort, and to prevent any error in the bottle being too hot.
  • The pups must all be put onto the dugs as soon as is possible for them to get strength from the mother’s milk. The sucking also produces uterine cramps and this helps push out the next pup.

Kennel routine after the birth.

  • Wash the bedding and the bitch after the birth.
  • Keep the infrared light on if the temperature merits it.
  • If there is no door to close off the cool night air, then hang a curtain or a blanket over the doorway to just above the ground. This curtain helps her to keep clean and lets her go out is she needs to.
  • Feed her three times a day. Soups and half-diluted milk and water with eggs are welcome, biscuits in a bowl kept permanently available
  • Check her twice a day for mastitis by gently squeezing the breasts to see they are not too firm. They must be soft and pliable.
  • If there is a weaker or smaller puppy this can be nurtured by putting it onto the end dugs or underneath the top row, where there is a bit of peace.
  • Food for the lactating bitch is critical. A great and successful meal is made of 250 grams of raw or cooked liver, bone meal, and rice or maize. Wheat germ is excellent and is mixed into milk and lapped up by the mother.
  • At two weeks, and again at four and again at six weeks, the puppies should be de-wormed
  • At three weeks the pups start to eat. A good way to reduce the mess is to put their portion into a teacup and let the tiny heads enter to lap. They need a firm grip on a carpet for their hind legs.
  • Most lactating bitches will go into super milk production when the pups are 3 weeks of age, so long as they have a marvellous diet. They can feed a litter up to 5 or 6 weeks if they are fed huge amounts of meat and liver. If the diet is not good enough then the milk diminishes, and the dugs reduce. In the wild the bitch would regurgitate meat for her pups. Some bitches are prone to doing this. If her food is rough biscuits then this can be sour and be a disadvantage for the pups.
  • First inoculations are given at a minimum of 6, up to 7 weeks of age.

What to check for in a great puppy
  • A perfect box with long ridge, no badly offset crowns
  • Colour – light to red wheaten. Dark red wheaten has become popular as new breeders think they can breed out the beiges and dead nut browns, however it is the liver nose which carries the marvellous reds.
  • Check the tail – no kinky tails, bumps, thickenings, nor displaced segments at the root of the tail
  • Check their legs. Front legs must be straight and the hind legs must have good angulation.
  • Slope of the shoulder is very important.
  • Depth of chest is extremely important. A deep chest from the shoulder [withers] to the brisket [elbow] should be half the height of the dog.
  • Back must be flat
  • Body longer than the height [not a square dog]
  • Head is critical. Must look like a ridgeback. Broad forehead, planes parallel, large round eyes and a square solid muzzle
  • Character is extremely important. We love our dogs and they have to be lovable, with bounce, personality and a willingness to listen. A protective nature is very important in countries where you are at risk.
  • Eye colour must match the coat. Some people favour a dark eye. It’s easier to read character in a lighter eye.
  • Overall, the puppy must attract you and draw your admiration.



A bitch puppy as a first choice for your home is quite delightful. She is playful, protective, and IF she is of good quality, then she could be bred from.

Have a good “eye”. Don’t be kennel blind. Learn to see her good qualities as well as her faults. Select the stud to balance her strengths and correct her faults.

Breeding has three important aspects. It is like a three-legged stool. Without one of the legs, the stool falls down. This is the situation for Ridgeback breeding.

1] The dog has to conform to the standard. I allow two faults overall. If there were three faults then the virtues of that particular dog would have to have enormous importance, to over-ride a third fault.

2] The dog must be healthy. There must be neither genetic cancers, nor hip dysplasia, etc. The dog must have an excellent appetite and be able to digest food, etc.

3] The temperament should be excellent. Usually the breeder should match the puppy to the future buyer. People with no animal instinct need a gentle dog and not a dominant one. Cowardly dogs are not acceptable.



When she comes on heat her body is ready to be bred. However as she is a flighty “teenager” it is NOT A GOOD IDEA to breed her on her first heat. If you have a male then you must put either her or the male into kennels so they do not mate. Believe me. I can tell you of plenty of stories where the dog has wriggled through cottage pane windows or just broken the window by jumping through, or opened the door [not difficult for a Ridgeback], or just run between your legs. Remember you are not trying to fight off only one dog. They BOTH want to have go at each other.

In South Africa she has to be X-rayed for hip dysplasia at a year old [not a day younger] so this must be done by a vet who knows how to position the dog for the x-rays. If she does not pass her x-rays you cannot register the litter. SO DO NOT BREED HER.

Nowadays the bitches are coming on heat later and later, at approximately 12 to 14 months. At a year old she should have an annual inoculation booster and also be done for Rabies, as well as being dewormed. This prepares her for her mating and the raising of the puppies by giving them a high immunity due to her recent inoculation, when she has her second heat at about 18 to twenty months of age.



If you don’t have your own male then you can have your bitch covered by a male at a kennels. You usually pay for the duration of the stay of the male when he is brought to the kennels for the mating, if he stays over with your bitch [kept separately or with her.]

A stud fee is usually the pick puppy. This is not excessive, as you will have the other puppies for yourself. You may be asked for cash in advance at the time of the mating instead of the puppy. Whatever the arrangement, it will be between you and the owner of the stud. When the puppies are born, the owner of the stud will sign an application for registration to be submitted to KUSA, by you, as you are the breeder. [The owner of the dam is the breeder.]

Once the bitch has been mated count your days and usually she will produce from 58 to 63 days. Variations in the date of birth would depend on the date of her ovulation. She might be huge with an enormous amount of pups inside her. This could bring on the birth. If there were a dead pup this would also start the birth early.

When first in whelp, she needs to be de-wormed. This is very important and you could do her twice if her condition is not great. De-worm her once before mating and then after mating, about a month later. Little bits of matter in the corner of her eyes are a give away sign that she is not in tiptop condition. It is a sign that her body is struggling. Give her excellent food.

She needs extra food. I always prepare my bitches before mating, and give them natural food with plenty of protein and calcium. A good diet is rice or maize [preferably yellow, first- run maize that still has the germ in it] with meat, eggs [6 at a time] bone meal, liver [this is incredibly good for her] heart, blood meal [if you can get it] and wheat germ. She must have a top-notch diet while she is pregnant.



The temperature drops before birth. She appears anxious, pants and is uncomfortable. She doesn’t want to eat. About a week before the birth date she might go on an uncontrolled and determined effort to dig in the garden. It is good for her muscles, and gives you a clue that puppies will soon be appearing. A good sign that puppies are due in about 10 days would be milk in her teats, where a squeeze brings out a few spots of colostrum.

When she is due keep her indoors. Have a place ready for her. I use my bathroom and the shower is large enough [about one meter by one meter] to use. It is so easy to clean. It is ideal, as she feels safe with her back in the alcove. She is also close to me and I can be with her all the time, right through the night, [they usually whelp at night].

A whelping carpet is laid for her on the floor of the shower. I usually buy a new one for each litter. There must be an infra red lamp, top quality [I use 250 watts] and this hangs above her at a height that is comfortable and neither too hot for her nor the puppies. The wrong kind of infra red makes the puppies blind.

I use plenty of newspaper. As she pushes with tummy contractions, the puppy emerges in a gush of water as the membrane breaks. I slit the membrane over the nose as it is coming out of her, and let the puppy breathe. She is busy with licking up the afterbirth and chewing off the umbilical cord. This is great, but hernias can develop if the bitch is too possessive and the puppy hangs by the cord or what often happens is the after-birth doesn’t arrive and the cord is stretched from the puppy, into the bitch. I break the cord or else cut it [VERY CAREFULLY] and encourage the mother to lick her baby.

If the umbilicus is chewed off too short it will bleed. To stop the bleeding, I tie cotton-sewing thread around it to cut off the blood flow. This has always worked.

I offer the puppy to the mom, tummy offered to her so she can lick it. Then with care I put the puppies onto the teats and let her begin to feed them. If the puppies are weak [birth stress from being in her tummy for too long, etc] then I squeeze the milk out. I open the puppy’s mouth with my fore finger and thumb, and while keeping the mouth open, slip the mouth around the teat so the drop of milk rests on the tongue. This gets the puppy going. Soon it will be drinking.

When there are about 5 puppies drinking, they bring on a flow of milk. They drink happily immediately at birth. I don’t leave more than 5 with her while she is giving birth. Once the sixth puppy is born I slip two onto a hot water bottle, filled with tap water so it is not too hot, and cover the bottle with a towel. The puppies are relaxed, warm and full of milk. If the puppies urinate, the bottle IS TOO HOT. They are trying to cool themselves.

Puppies should be born at approximately half hourly intervals. Sooner is fine. A delay of longer than an hour makes me worried. I then either take her to the vet or else the vet visits her here.

On occasion there has been another problem. A danger to watch out for is that while giving birth or even after you think she has finished, you spot a contraction. Even the tiniest contraction means there is another puppy there. So off to the vet she must go for either an injection to promote contractions or else a caesarian because there might be a huge puppy there and she has gone into uterine inertia.

As the pups are born I give the mother a drink from a soup bowl size filled with milk and an egg whipped into it. If the bitch cries and is anxious, there could be calcium deficiency. I have successfully given 2 ground up tablespoons of dolomite tablets stirred into an egg. If the bitch licks the puppies frantically this is a sign of calcium deficiency. It is dangerous to give her calcium intravenously. Only a vet can do this. It is better to make sure she is full of calcium before the birth, via good feeding. Or the milk and egg treat after each puppy helps certainly helps.

Sometimes the bitch is so well fed that she doesn’t want to eat the after births. This is all right. I just wrap them in newspaper for disposal or flush them away.

It is good to be next to your bitch while she is whelping as this makes her relaxed. You are involved with her at a difficult time for her. She learns to trust you and loves the process of having puppies. She immediately bonds with you at a deep level by sharing this moment.

By having her inside with me at this whelping time, I have found that all the puppies recognise my voice, as they grow older. Most important, she is totally relaxed with my grandchildren who visit her and the new pups, from these early moments. This starts a wonderful relationship with children and there are NEVER any aggressive incidents towards visitors.

Mylda Arsenis used to sleep next to her pups for the first 10 days. She would make sure they were switched around and the odd little one would be put on the hind teat to get it to catch up. I often take out the 3 largest pups for a few hours at night, during the first few days. This enables the little ones to get their fill. I have seen again and again that a sign of this lack of care leads to an uneven litter where the biggest pups become vast and little ones do not grow. They are tiny, barely surviving. They start to recover when they all begin to eat, but it is a struggle to get them to catch up.



Each time the dam has had a milk flow, and the puppies have drunk with gurgling happy noises, she will get up and turn around so her teats underneath will be available for her puppies to drain the next time they drink. It also gives the smaller ones a chance to get to her and drink.

A young mother is not so good at this. That is why Mylda slept with her puppies, and why I rush in to check when I hear the puppies cheeping. When the mother settles she may flop down onto one thus crushing it. A common problem, especially when the litter is larger than six puppies.

Also a most important check to avoid engorgement is to gently press or squeeze her breasts EVERY DAY. This happens all to easily when they are not drained. If you feel one with a hard lump in it then keep the big fat pups back and let at least THREE puppies drink on this engorged breast, one after the other. It is critical to check that the puppies drink it dry for the next few days. I check the breasts night and morning.

If the lump becomes huge, and the whole breast becomes hard, then an anti biotic is called for and hopefully you won’t have to cope with a burst abscess.



A very necessary expense is giving the mother a pound of liver or heart [half a kilo] per day to encourage milk production. The better the milk the better the puppies will be. The mother also needs bone meal, and I put a bowl of dry puppy food out for her so she can eat all she wants.

My vet insists that she needs to drink enormously. It is the drinking that produces the liquid needed for the milk production. Chicken broth is great. They love this.

When the pups are about two weeks old, the bitch goes into strong milk production and her food requirements step up. At about three weeks of age, the mom goes into super milk production if the pups are not weaned at this stage. Her food requirements are about three times those of when she was feeding week old puppies.



This leads to stomach disorders, which means they get a bad start. At about three weeks of age the teeth come out. This is weaning time. I get them to lap baby porridge mixed with milk and an egg, [white and the yolk,] for their first meals lasting for about two to three days. This soft mixture is poured into a teacup. Each pup has his head put into the cup so he can smell the mixture, and be motivated to eat. This teacup trick works well.

Then they all eat Eucanuba. To get the mixture right, boiling water is poured over the biscuits. After the biscuit mix has stood and absorbed the water I pour more water on top until the biscuits are saturated. When this has cooled, it is fed to the pups. Three to a large bowl so there is enough for all of them.

There is ALWAYS fresh water to drink. There are never smelly feces left around as this leads to illness spread by flies. It is a good idea to feed the puppies four times a day, and remember they are still drinking off the dam.

Now the drying up process begins to stop the mother lactating. This is tricky. The puppies need the milk continually for their third and fourth week. About four weeks of age the mother is keen to go running in the garden and so she is with her puppies at night and out by day. At just on five weeks of age, she is kept away from her pups a day and a night, and then drained thoroughly. This is done for two or three days. Then she is kept out for two days and then drained. After being away from her pups for three days she doesn’t need draining as she has pretty well dried up. Obviously the liver and extra food must be stopped when the drying up process starts.

While this is on the go, we have the puppies out on the lawn and the dam plays with them, so she does have contact. The puppies are also introduced to the other older dogs. Funnily enough all the older dogs love the pups and sniff and lick them. Play time out of the kennels is good for all the dogs, and pups alike. The pups get used to the pack discipline, and learn to relate and listen to the pack. But we have to be there to guard them as the young hooligans of six or so months of age, are too rough. They love the “squeaky toy” game where they put a paw on the puppy and the pup then squeaks. Oh joy! It is the start of a cheerful persecution. It is a bit too tough for the little ones.


Diet For Puppies - By Laurie Venter

An incident occurred that changed my attitude and changed my dog’s lives.

The Maxwood kennels were just down the road. These had absorbed the last of Tom Hawley’s dogs.
I became friends with the Cawoods, the owners of the kennels, and in time I soon was suggesting which dogs to breed from and which to neuter. Over a period I found I was not only helping, but also landed up supervising the breeding kennels.

One charming puppy became the owner of Louise Mannering. When she grew up she was brought to breed to my male, a dog which had come from the Eastern Cape . Only four pups were born, as the bitch was basically over her heat when she had been brought to be bred.

Of the pups born one had a faulty ridge. A home was found for him with an elderly lady who was looking for a guard and companion, and being a pensioner she wasn’t prepared to spend outlandish sums of money on a top dog.

When the pups would have been about eight to ten weeks old Louise started to phone me. This faulty puppy was walking on its `knees’. Its rump was in the air and it was moving about with its front paws doubled under its little legs. Louise was worried. The new owner was anxious. The pup wasn’t improving. They appealed to me for help.

I had been raised in a ruthless Sparten school. If things weren’t right you did away with them. I told her to have the pup put down and to refund the money. Louise stated that no ways was the lady going to do this and in fact the elderly woman was carrying the puppy around at great risk to herself. I wished she would just go away. After all, this breeding had NOTHING to do with my bloodlines, and nothing to do with me.

Louise refused to give up. About the fourth phone call, I was feeling desperate. She refused to disappear. As Louise began her monologue, and as I listened, I realised that I was seeing in my mind, a place called Riversands. I reflected. Thinking back, I realised that every time she had spoken about the pup I had seen this place. WHY, I wondered. I was now paying attention to my mind pictures. I saw a cow grazing. Perhaps that was why this place was important. Perhaps the pup needed to have unpasturised milk. Perhaps the calcium would be better assimilated in `raw’ milk.

I took a deep breath. Louise would really think I was barmy, but I had to try. It seemed very important.
I made a massive decision and told her about my mind pictures.

`Tell her’, (the old lady) `to only go when she feels happy. She mustn’t feel worried nor upset.”

I didn’t know where the words were coming from.

`Why must she go?’ Louise hung onto every word, examined it, looked at it and chewed it up.

I could feel myself getting more and more frantic. I didn’t know why.

Well I tried, I thought, when she at last let me go. I then promptly forgot about the matter, glad that there were no more calls.

Imagine my surprise when about a month later Louise phoned me again. She told me a strange story. YES. The old woman had put her puppy into her Beetle, and driven out on the winding road through the open fields, to this Riversands farm where chickens and cows were.

As she stepped from the car, there just happened to be a farmer waiting, as if for her. They got talking and he asked her why she had come so far to buy unpasturised milk. At this, the sad, sad story of her crippled puppy poured out of her.

She told him how the pup had been to eleven vets. It had had dietery suppliments of calcium to try to straighten its bones. It had had injections, vitamins, and even had its legs encased in plaster of paris to the point where the legs were starting to smell rotten as the pup was growing so fast.

`Why, that’s nothing’, said the farmer. `I had a dog like that and it got better.’
`What’ gasped the old woman, not believing her ears. This was the first good news she had heard in a couple of months.
`Yes’, stated the farmer. `Here is a diet for your puppy’. He gave her a list of directions, which they had followed, and this was why Louise was phoning me. She wanted to fill me in with what had happened.
`I want to show you the dog,’ she told me. The pup was now about six months old.

We set a day and sure enough when they arrived, I saw the dog was no cripple. He was glossy and stood tall at a mature height, obviously a quick grower, which had caused all the problems.


The diet was as follows:

Based on purely natural food the protein was to be pure raw meat, with unpasturised milk. He was also given bone meal, which I think, is the key to the balance between the whole grain with its germ still there and the protein which is high in phospherous. This needs to be absorbed in a ratio of 1:2 to the calcium.

Bone meal, or sawdust as some people call it, is the bone fragments which collect under the saw when the butcher cuts the meat. Sometimes it is very dry, other times it is full of meat, which is the best quality.

The final ingredient was maize pap, made out of `second run’ maize. It was definitely called second run, for I thought of the first run being the chipped maize which is fed to chickens, the second run being the same maize which had now been squashed. This meal was sweet to taste, and was gritty and powdery to look at with bits of string and odd stalks of grass. It was rough and unsifted. It was great stuff. It is now called ` straight run’ and every bag varies according to the miller’s whim. It isn’t the same but it is good enough.

My dogs disliked the processed food so much they started to steal the pots of pap from the compound. I started cooking for them in earnest. They thrived on cooked food.

The second lesson to do with diet and nutrition was learnt from people who came to buy a pup, and who fell in love with the mother.

The dam had been dumped on me and she didn’t settle. She had been a special pet and couldn’t adjust to the open spaces and the pack discipline. I offered her to these lovely people, and knew she would settle with them as they had the personality, brains and determination to help her to become their dog.

To make sure she was happy I popped in on these good folk, and found her in superb condition. Delighted to see this I started to ask them what they were feeding her for she had been a reluctant eater with me. They ducked and dived and after lengthy dodging opened up and gave me the diet they used.

There was an element of guilt in not wanting to give me the diet for, as the husband said, he was SICK of picking up huge sploshy poos. He had worked out the following diet which worked for all three of their dogs.

Firstly a large pot of horse meat, bones, potato peels was stewed. This was spooned into 500ml margerine tubs, covered with the juice, and frozen. When meal time arrived (one per day), one tub was taken out of the freezer and it was halved for the two Ridgebacks. However there was a third beagle sized scruff which, I thought had the better deal, as it got for its size, a good scoop out of each half portion from the tub.

This was mixed with the local food of EPOL crumbles, and I was so fascinated at the minute portions these dogs were being fed that I weighed the portion of dried food, and found it was 200mg.

`That can’t be all you feed them’. I was startled.

My dogs were eating 650 to 750 mg of the same dried food, which I wet for them. They would be battling with a heavy stomach load which we have learnt, leads to torsions.

`No’ agreed the husband. `I could never get them out of the house. I had to look under the beds and go from room to room. Now all I shout is “ BISCUITS” and they whistle down the stairs.”
`How many do they get?’
`Two each’ he said. The little dog scored again.

There you have it. I asked my brother Cuan, who had studied animal husbandry, how this huge discrepancy could exist between the weights of the food which I was feeding, and that which he was feeding his dogs. Cuan explained that there are different grades of protein. Some protein which would be recorded as a protein on a scientific scale, but might be totally inassimilable, being a low grade protein. The pure proteins of meat and bone would rate very high and this is why those dogs did so well on this lean diet. They were absorbing nearly everything they were eating as it was first class quality food.

I thought of the Huskies which run for hours and are fed a fish per day, in freezing weather.

This guy was intelligent. He had thought out a diet which worked and suited him. He didn’t have to pick up those huge sposhy poos as the dogs were utilising a high percentage of what they were being fed.

Nowadays there are so many foods on the market. The vet’s rooms are packed with food. It all looks bright and cheery and tells us the vet cares about what we are doing on a current basis for the dogs, but in fact we all have to pay attention and be more discerning. We need to see how each food affects our pet. We should be looking at the long term affects. There are many carcinogens in some foods. Many foods haven’t been on the market for very long so it’s hard to tell what will happen in time to our pets. The medication for animals doesn’t get the same degree of screening, as our medicines do, and this applies equally to our pet’s food.


If you are giving your pet the top of the range, then that pet is probably eating better than you are. I overheard one fellow squawking in outrage when he heard the price of the food and he muttered darkly, “costs as much as blithering steak .”

NO supplements were given.

I tried it out on other pups which showed the same symptoms, in time to come. This diet worked on all the puppies, helping them to grow correctly and not knuckle over.



De-worming the puppies at 3 to 4 weeks of age is necessary even though the bitch was de-wormed while she was pregnant. You will be surprised that worms are present. This is important as worms irritate the gut and this leads to diarrhea. Once you have diarrhoea in your kennel environment this leads to sickly puppies and enteritis, as all farmers know. This is how the parvovirus got a hold a while ago.

The pups need a second de-worming three weeks later. At six weeks to seven weeks they need their first inoculation to boost their mother’s immunity given to them from her annual inoculations.

MOST IMPORTANT: they need their second inoculation at 10 and a half weeks to 11 weeks of age. They lose the mother’s immunity at 12 weeks and so the second inoculation is critical. Vets recommend a third inoculation at 16 weeks. I don’t do this one. Only once in all my years has the 11-week inoculation been useless, and the puppy got distemper. It was cured with homeopathic medication. I sat up night and day dosing it every half an hour. Surprisingly, it survived, to my great joy, and it was a shock for my vet. I decided that there was nothing to lose, as it would have died with normal medication. It had had a 5-day course of antibiotic and then a 10-day course. On the 6 th day of the 10-day course, I realised that the pup was dying. Hence the homeopathic medication.

Then at about 16 weeks they get their Rabies inoculation. It is not compulsory and as most of us live in the suburbs, you may decide not to do it. The pup has to be older than 3 months and as the inoculation for adult distemper and parvovirus was done at the age of 11 weeks, there is a gap of a few weeks until the 3-month age for Rabies. That is why I wait until 16 weeks.



Parvo has struck. The puppy from being a sparkling gambling little fellow, suddenly does a major collapse. He looks sick, really sick. He breathes heavily and his head hangs low. He’s HOT. This little chap has no immunity to parvo and has had a total collapse.

It’s a virus, says the vet. He can pick it up anywhere, any time. It can fly into your kennels, and home. It can be walked in on your feet. There is no escape. No amount of preventative caution and the disinfecting of your kennels will guarantee that parvo does not enter.

In fact I found that the BEST place to pick it up is the vet’s rooms. I decided that the table was where he examined other ill animals, so I would hold mine in my arms to be checked. There is a spray disinfectant which they use now to clean the table . Times have changed and we have all learnt the hard way.

I learnt that if the puppy collapses suddenly and unexpectedly, then there is very little chance of recovery in a young pup under three months.

One of the problems is they get so depressed and won’t eat. They come home to die. Funnily enough quite a number have survived with care and the regular feeding of a teaspoon of food at a time. They have to eat or else they get weaker. Nestum, the baby cereal, mixed with water, and syringed into the mouth, worked with a litter about five years ago.

Another puppy responded to chicken. She had been at the vet for ten days and her legs and feet had collapsed. She was a gaunt skeleton. The vet said it was better she died with me at home than with him. Her stools were black and liquid yet she wasn’t drinking. I boiled a chicken and crumbled the backbones into a pulp. The lungs, cooked, were still inside the chicken. A soup of all the tasty nourishing bits was fed to her at twenty minute intervals, and this worked. I opened her mouth and tipped her nose up so the soup could be spooned in. She got only one teaspoon for the first time to see if she would vomit, then another teaspoon, until about one and a half hours later she was dead keen to get her morsel.

Nowadays the pups are resistant and do not collapse because they carry the mother’s immunity. If ill they respond to sulphur drugs. If they have been de-wormed and the mother was de-wormed while gestating then they should be fine. Obviously the bitch should have had her inoculations done and within the previous year, preferably done just before the mating.

The most dangerous time for any pup is when it is young and it comes into a parvo environment. It is susceptible to the disease as its immunity is not yet fully developed. I have made it a practice that no pup can come onto my property from another one until it has had its second inoculation, and then ten days must lapse after this inoculation so it can take effect.

I believe different countries have their own different forms of parvo which have mutated within those closed environments. Too often one hears of pups travelling to different countries, getting sick and dying. The breeders feel guilty. It’s not solely their fault. It is a collective guilt from both the vet and the breeder and the new owner. They all do wrong through a lack of knowledge about how to prevent the infection, and a belief that the pup will be fine, as there is no sign of illness at the kennels where it was bred, and nor is there illness where it is going.

It all gets back to animal husbandry which is a common sense attitude to caring about our most beloved and special Ridgebacks.



Dr. Natalie Rouget and Laurie Venter give information on Hip Dysplasia

Do we accept that some form of guidance is required on the matter?

Natalie : Yes. All dogs must be Xrayed

Laurie : Yes. All dogs must be Xrayed.

Should that guidance be obligatory or recommendatory?

Natalie : Obligatory

Laurie : ditto.

Who should enforce whatever requirements are found to be obligatory, specialist clubs or the registering authority?

Natalie : Should be enforced by both registering authority and specialist clubs.

Laurie : ditto

Are we happy with the present system?

Natalie : What is the scoring of the total population of RR in S.A.? If the scoring of the total population of R.R.s is 0:0 for 70% or more dogs then we should keep the present grading system. If the total number of dogs graded is less than 70% clear then we are losing our genetic pool. We are losing our diversity. We [the breed] will go accordingly to more and more problems in the dog. If we relax the grading system I recommend that a 0:1 or a 1:1 be bred to a 0:0 sire or dam. Research has shown that the percentage dropped when using this combination instead of 0:0 for both parents, is five percent. Not a great deal.

Laurie : No I am not happy with this present system. There is no lee way between the grading. There is no explanation of the flaws. Moreover, there is no panel of experts. We have to rely and believe in one opinion, and chuck out precious bloodlines if they fail by an nth.

Should we go for a combined score rather than considering the dam and sire separately?

Natalie : We must consider the dam and sire separately. Look at all the studies where litters have been sired by a male with bad hips and the probability of producing pups with bad or borderline hips, is perpetuated. If there is a choice of a 1:1 bitch bred to a 0:0 male then I would take a chance and go ahead straight away. If the bitch is 0:0 and the male is 1:1 then the male must be incredible, be a top winner, and be exceptional to merit this. If the male is average then NO.

Laurie : Each parent must be considered separately. Each case must be weighed. What if the dog is old and has scored a 1:1 yet he is, as Natalie says, incredible. If I didn’t breed to him then bang, there would go his bloodline. We lose our powerful old dogs and boost weaker versions, as they are the current fashion. ‘ Out with the old and in with the new.’… I DISAGREE. We should be protecting good qualities, such as excellent temperament by having a laxer H.D. ruling.

Should we consider shoulder and elbows plus what else?

Natalie : Yes! But we don’t have elbow and shoulder dysplasia in the RR in this country at the moment. And what about the cost? We need the frog position as it clarifies whether the dog is dysplastic.

Laurie : If it is not needed then NO! We could X ray the whole dog from top to toe but we must try to be realistic. This perpetual emphasis on H.D. makes me dispair. What has happened to the possibility of breeding out good noses [scenting abilities] and vision, and hearing advantages? All I hear is a perpetual wail about H.D. and this is because it is one of the easiest factors to breed out. It is clearly discernable on X rays so people can shout the odds about it; whereas there are no tests for temperament…etc.

Should there be a weighted importance to the various factors considered in the hip scoring, eg. Should subluxation be twice as important as the rest?

Natalie : This is for specialist and radiologists to answer. They are to give their opinion regarding the situation.

Laurie : ditto

Should we as a starting point, revert to the position where 1:1 bred to 0:0 was acceptable, whatever system is to be used?

Natalie : This is a similar question to no. 4. Regarding the rating of the total population of Ridgebacks. If the rating is not known then we must reduce the grading of 0:0 bred to 0:0, to a 1:1 bred to a 0:0 to increase the genetic pool and avoid any other genetic abnormalities [more dermoid sinus, more kinks in the tail, etc.]. Otherwise there will be more problems from a limited gene pool.

Laurie : Natalie has said it all. With the introduction of dogs from overseas which have been bred in tight circles due to a limited gene pool where they are, I am finding that they are bringing in their dominant faults to add to our own variety of problems here. Horrors. To answer the question, YES. We should revert to what Prof Roos recommended ie so long as there were no abnormalities such as osteo arthritis then a 1:1 could be bred to a 0:0. I still want all the X ray gradings to be published on the pedigree forms, so in time we will have a clear picture of how solid a background we are producing. It is also a system of control. We have just opened the door a chink to accommodate a superb specimen IF his qualities are needed in the looks or temperament of the breed at that particular time.

Should we work on a basis which is reconsidered in say five to ten years time, say then reducing the total score from 40 to 35, for example?

Natalie : We need to know the total population of H.D. free RR’s and depending on this the decision will be based. If the general population is good then we can go back to 0:0 bred to 0:0.

  • How many RRs have been X rayed?
  • How many RRs in SA?
  • How many of these are 0:0 ?

I think there are plenty of 0:0 RRs in SA. I can’t think why people are so hysterical about this. This doesn’t mean that I won’t use a 1:1, but if two similar dogs, one is a 0:0, the other a 1:1 , I will use the 0:0. If people know what they are doing then they must do whatever they want. I am not there to control them.

Laurie : What an interesting question. We have not been consulted at all regarding this damning HD restriction which was imposed and yet here we are being asked what would be visualised in the future. Yes. Obviously if the situation changes then parameters should also change.

Are we thinking of this problem on an international basis?

Natalie : Yes. It is important to know the different situations in different countries in the world. We should only import the best specimen possible. Therefore we should look at any related problems to RRs in other countries. It is not a good idea to import a RR with for example a genetic problem of bad bite, bad ear carriage, sinus… We never know what we are importing. People never send their best. If we are importing do we get a letter from the vet who would check the dog overseas? Would the vet overseas be asked to check the dog?

Laurie : I would LOVE to see all countries having their dogs examined under the same ruling system for HD. Would they do this? We could ask. There is a symposium next year in Brussels for the RR. It would be a good time and place to put this to the world breeders.

Do we want whatever method is used to be carried out by panel?

Natalie : Yes, a vey good idea. We need a panel of experts.

Laurie : ditto

Do we attempt to obtain co-operation from the other four breeds involved in HD restrictions? [GSDs Rottweilers, Malamutes, and Weimaraners]

Natalie : Rottweilers are 0:0 bred to 1:1. German Shepherds are 0:0 bred to 2:2. Only Weimaraners RRs and Malamutes are 0:0 x 0:0. Yes. Ask what do they feel about it. It would be nice to talk to them. Rottweilers have a different situation from RRs, its not the same as ours.

Laurie : What do you mean by co-operation? If we want to get rid of the restrictions we can do this ourselves. If we want to learn what the different problems are in the different breeds then yes we must talk to these guys.

Do we communicate with other RR clubs throughout the world?

Natalie : Yes. HD is not the problem of the RR anymore. You can find 10 RR males HD clear acceptable for breeding which are easily accessible. Problem is the RR doesn’t look like a RR anymore. Also many RR are not registered. I like good feet. The dog lives on his feet. They must be good.

Laurie : Yes we must talk to other clubs throughout the world. Remember we have been damned by the Megginsons loudly, for wanting to breed to HD dogs. This opinion will have been sent all over the world. WHAT ROT. What arrogance to think that their unresearched method of restricting the registrations is the correct way to go. Nevertheless we will have an uphill battle for credibility which may last for years.


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