Rhodesian Ridgeback Health Problems and Raising a Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2015
The most common health problems in Rhodesian Ridgebacks:
The Rhodesian Ridgeback Club conducted a health survey that included over 1700 Ridgebacks. Here are some of the results. Cancer affects about 10% of the Ridgeback population and 35% of the tumors were mast cell tumors. Other reported cancers were lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, fibrosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.
Heart disease (subaortic stenosis) is becoming a serious concern in Rhodesian Ridgebacks.
According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, Rhodesian Ridgebacks have the 15th highest rate of hypothyroidism of 140 breeds, with up to 21% of Ridgebacks estimated to have low thyroid levels.
As with all deep-chested breeds, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.
Skin diseases include allergies (which cause itchy skin and can lead to pyoderma) and demodectic mange.
Orthopedic diseases in Rhodesian Ridgebacks include hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, luxating patella, and cruciate ligament rupture. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 8300 Ridgebacks and found 5% dysplastic, which is a pretty good rate for this size dog. Of 2863 elbow X-rays, 6% were dysplastic. Not too bad.
The most common eye disease is cataracts. Occasionally reported are progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), entropion, and persistent pupillary membranes.
Neurological and nervous system diseases include epilepsy, wobbler's syndrome, degenerative spinal myelopathy, and cerebellar ataxia.
Other health issues in Ridgebacks include deafness (inherited deafness), megaesophagus, and pancreatitis.
Dermoid sinus in Ridgeback puppies
The most serious disease in Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies (with about a 5% incidence) is a severe inherited skin deformity called dermoid sinus. It's usually detected by the breeder before a puppy is sold, so normally it isn't something that most pet owners have to worry about. But everyone with an interest in Rhodesian Ridgebacks should know about dermoid sinus.
First of all, what it is? A dermoid sinus is a tube-shaped channel that starts on the surface of an affected puppy's skin (usually along the midline of the neck or back) and extends downward toward the spinal canal. It's like an open tract filled with hair, dead skin cells, and sebum (waxy oil). If this channel becomes infected, a painful abscess may form, and if the sinus extends all the way into the spinal canal, infection can cause serious neurological diseases like meningitis, encephalitis, or myelitis.
Simple tracts can be surgically removed by an experienced surgeon, but many tracts extend too deeply to be removable. Because of the many complications of this disease, many breeders immediately put puppies with a dermoid sinus to sleep (the estimate is that about half of all puppies with dermoid sinus are euthanized).
There is a theory that folic acid given to breeding bitches (both before and during pregnancy) may help prevent this horrible disease.
I'd like you to be aware of an appalling practice among some breeders – they euthanize perfectly healthy Ridgeback puppies simply because they were born without the typical ridge of hair along their back. The survey done by the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club reports that 11% of the puppies in the survey were born ridgeless and that 68% of those puppies were euthanized, rather than being neutered and placed as pets. I don't know what you think about killing healthy puppies because they don't fit a "desired" appearance....but I know what I think.
Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Rhodesian Ridgeback?
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Rhodesian Ridgebacks today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy or adult dog:
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Copyright © 2000-2015 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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