- 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.
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.
WHETHER TO BREED OR NOT, THAT IS THE QUESTION
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.
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.
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.
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.
YES! WE SHALL MATE HER! FIRST
CHECK THIS OUT
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
MATING AND GESTATION
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 BIRTH PROCESS
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
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
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.
CARE WHILE THE DAM IS NURSING
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
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
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.
FOOD REQUIREMENTS FOR NURSING BITCHES
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
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
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.
WEANING THE PUPPIES - DO
NOT TRY TO WEAN THE PUPPIES TOO EARLY
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
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
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
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
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.
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT.
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
DE-WORMING AND INOCULATIONS
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
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.
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
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
It all gets back to animal husbandry which is a common
sense attitude to caring about our most beloved and special
Dr. Natalie Rouget and Laurie Venter
give information on Hip Dysplasia
Do we accept that some form of guidance is
required on the matter?
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Do we communicate with other RR clubs throughout
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.
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.