The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog breed developed in Southern Africa. Its European forebears can be traced to the early pioneers of the Cape Colony of southern Africa, who crossed their dogs with the semi-domesticated, ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi.
In the earlier parts of its history, the Rhodesian Ridgeback has also been known as Van Rooyen's Lion Dog, the African Lion Hound or African Lion Dog—Simba Inja in Ndebele, Shumba Imbwa in Shona—because of its ability to keep a lion at bay while awaiting its master to make the kill.
The original breed standard was drafted by F.R. Barnes, in Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), in 1922. Based on that of the Dalmatian, the standard was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1927.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback's distinguishing feature is the ridge of hair running along its back in the opposite direction from the rest of its coat. It consists of a fan-like area formed by two whorls of hair (called 'crowns') and tapers from immediately behind the shoulders down to the level of the hips. The ridge is usually about 2 inches (5 cm) in width at its widest point. It is believed to originate from the dog used by the original African dog population which had a similar ridge. The first depiction of a Ridgeback is a wall painting describing the life of the Boers, housed in South Africa in the Voortrekker Monument.
Male Ridgebacks should stand 63 cms (25 ins) to 69cms (27 ins) at the withers and weigh about 85 lb (39 kg) FCI Standard); females should be 24–26 inches (61–66 cm) tall and about 70 lb (32 kg) in weight. Ridgebacks are typically muscular and have a light wheaten to red wheaten coat, which should be short, dense, sleek and glossy in appearance, and neither woolly nor silky. White is acceptable on the chest and toes. The presence of black guard hairs or ticking is not addressed in the AKC standard, although the elaboration of the AKC standard notes the amount of black or dark brown in the coat should not be excessive. The FCI Standard states that excessive black hairs throughout the coat are highly undesirable. Ridgebacks sometimes have a dark mask. The dog's nose should be black or brown (liver) in keeping with the color of the dog. No other colored nose is permissible. The brown nose is a recessive gene. It is not as common as a black nose; some breeders believe the inclusion of brown noses in a breeding program is necessary for maintaining the vibrancy of the coat. The eyes should be round and should reflect the dog's color: dark eyes with a black nose, amber eyes with a brown (liver) nose. Ridgebacks have a strong, smooth tail, which is usually carried in a gentle curve backwards.
The original standard allowed for a variety of coat colors, including brindle and sable. The modern FCI standard calls for light wheaten to red wheaten.
Other dog breeds also have a reverse line of fur along the spine, including the Phu Quoc ridgeback dog and Thai Ridgeback. The Thai Ridgeback is a crossbreed of the Phu Quoc; historians have speculated the relationship between the Rhodesian Ridgeback and the Phu Quoc with suggestions that historically one breed may have been imported to the other's location.
Source of information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhodesian_Ridgeback
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