The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a tough and loyal breed of dog that was originally developed to hunt lions. But even with this rough exterior and mighty history, this breed does have some drawbacks including disorders and diseases that may come into play during ownership. All breeds of dogs are susceptible to illness and the Rhodesian Ridgeback is no exception. If you are considering on acquiring one of these exceptional dogs, you should know about certain health conditions that this breed is prone to genetically.
Cataracts are found in the eyes. It will appear as an opaque spot on the lens and those that are quite apparent will be seen as a cloudy gray film just behind the pupil. There are many dog breeds more susceptible to acquiring cataracts including the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Cocker Spaniel, and the Boston Terrier, among others. However, cataracts can occur with any dog regardless of breed and generally appears as the dog ages.
Treatment for cataracts is usually decided on a case by case basis which can depend on the dog’s age and/or the severity of the blindness. The cataracts can be treated with surgery by removing the affected lens. When the lens is removed, vision can be blurred but objects in the dog’s environment can be seen thus allowing the dog to move about more freely.
Dermoid sinus is the most common genetic disorder inherited by the Rhodesian Ridgeback. These formations begin while the puppy is in the womb. Dermoid sinus is a mass-type formation that is located just below the skin along the back and can sometimes be connected to the spine. As the puppy is developing in the womb, the tube that creates the spine does not separate correctly from the skin thus leading to this disorder. This disorder can be corrected with surgery but can typically just be observed if the dog is asymptomatic (having no signs/symptoms).
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Rhodesian Ridgebacks can suffer from both hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia occurs in the rear leg joints while elbow dysplasia will affect the front legs. Both disorders can be inherited but can also occur from injury and both can lead to lameness. The joints are closely made just like with humans – ball and socket. When these do not align correctly, it can cause the bone to deteriorate.
Treatment will depend upon several factors including the severity and the dog’s age. Medications can be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain and in severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the disorder. Breeders highly advise against breeding dogs with a history of dysplasia.
Hypothyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland. This gland produces hormones which control the metabolism rate. Dogs with this disorder have low metabolic rates and it is one of the most common endocrine skin diseases in dogs. A common sign of hypothyroidism is inadequate hair re-growth. There are no cures for this disease but it can be treated with hormone therapy drugs.
Compared to some other breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is considered a healthy breed of dog. To help prevent these problems, individuals should only purchase from a reputable breeder and preferably one that has the parents on site. At the first signs of these disorders in your dog, seek veterinary care to discuss the treatment options that are best for you and your pet.
DOG OWNER’S HOM VETERINARY HANDBOOK, Fourth Edition, copyright 2007.