Your Purebred Puppy, Honest Advice About Dogs and Dog Breeds

Sensible advice for raising your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy so he lives a long healthy life and seldom needs to visit the vet. Learn about the most common health problems and issues in Rhodesian Ridgebacks, the best dog food diet for feeding Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies and adult dogs, the truth about vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and natural health care.


11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy, my best-selling dog health book

Rhodesian Ridgeback dog breed

Rhodesian Ridgeback Health Problems and Raising a Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy to be Healthy

By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2013

Quiz – How Long Will Your Dog Live?
How To Raise a Healthy Dog
Feeding the Best Dog Food
Feeding the 2nd Best Dog Food
Vaccinations: Needed or Not?
Are You Sure Your Vet Is Good?

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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:

Dog lifespan quiz How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.


Obedience instructor and author Michele Welton Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Rhodesian Ridgeback lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.


Real homemade dog food The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Rhodesian Ridgeback
The best diet for feeding your Rhodesian Ridgeback is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.


Natural dog foods for your Rhodesian Ridgeback. The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Rhodesian Ridgeback
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.


Information on booster shots for your Rhodesian Ridgeback. Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy really need? Does your adult Ridgeback need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.


Information on choosing the best vet for your Rhodesian Ridgeback. The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.


Information on spaying your Rhodesian Ridgeback. Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Rhodesian Ridgeback.


Information on neutering your male dog. Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.