The Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress
Created in 2012 with the mandate to be a clearinghouse for health information for Ridgeback clubs worldwide, and to help generate cooperation in coordinating research and information exchange across the globe.
The 2016 Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress convened June 29-30 in Lund, Sweden, for two days to discuss issues of interest to Ridgeback owners, breeders, and fanciers. Attendees at the close of the Congress approved the following resolution:
"The 2016 Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress recognizes that breeders are autonomous and are the best arbiters of what should happen in their whelping boxes. To that end, the 2016 RRWC strongly encourages breed clubs to avoid punitive language in their codes of ethics or other official documents regarding the breeding of healthy Rhodesian Ridgebacks with only cosmetic faults, and strongly encourages openness and honesty between breeders."
Recently, the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) released a document that significantly misstated several key facts about ridgeless Ridgebacks and the incidence of dermoid sinus in the breed.
According to the international breeder survey conducted in 2016 by Orit Nevo and Linda Costa in preparation for the Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress and covering all countries and more than 20 years, only 7% of ridgeback puppies are born ridgeless.
The RRWC 2016 followed up on this and asked FCI clubs with reliable litter statistics about the development of DS and ridgeless over time.
The following clubs participated: SRRS (Sweden) from 2006, NRRK (Norway) from 2000, RRK (Denmark) from 2003, The Ridgeback Club of Finland from 2002, DZRR (Germany) from 2001, ELSA (Germany) from 2004, KCHRR (Czech Republic) from 2009 and RRCN (Netherlands) partly from 2010 -- altogether 19,243 puppies born over a period of more than 10 years. DS shows a strong steady fall from 5.3% in 2006 to 1.7% in 2015, and in the same period the number of ridgeless rise from 2.84% to 4.99%.
There is no evidence, factual or anecdotal, that ridgeless puppies are "killed or neglected" or "not registered" in the surveyed countries. This was a practice in the breed's earliest days, but better education of breeders and buyers has changed that in the FCI countries surveyed.
Dermoid sinus and mortality:
In the FCI countries surveyed, DS puppies are operated on at a very young age by experienced vets and -- like their ridgeless siblings -- placed in loving homes to live as long and good lives as any other Ridgeback. According to Dr. Thomas Laube, who also presented at the RRWC 2016, there is a 100% success rate on DS operations when done by an experienced vet.
Dermoid sinus is NOT fatal for the dog.
Dr. Laube also stated that he had many DS operations on non-Ridgebacks, as well as Ridgeless and third-generation crosses (ie, several generations bred to ridgeless dogs of other breeds).
Dermoid sinus is today an increasingly rarely occurring condition, and can occur in both ridged and ridgeless dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks and other breeds.
Degenerative myelopathy is a painless but devastating neurological condition that leads to a slow but irreversible paralysis of the rear legs. Many breeds are affected by DM, including Ridgebacks. A genetic-marker test is available that identifies dogs who carry a gene called SOD1 that increases the risk of DM, but not all dogs with two copies of the SOD1 gene develop the disease. Researchers from the Broad Institute at MIT and Harvard University recently announced that Pembroke Welsh Corgis that carried a second gene, called SP110, were likely to develop DM at an earlier age. Unfortunately, there is not yet enough data on other breeds, including Ridgebacks, to determine if the presence of the SP110 gene is significant in terms of the expression of degenerative myelopathy. Stay tuned.
The Health Committee of the Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress is interested in speaking to researchers about organizing a study on the effect of folic acid on dermoid sinus, a neural tube abnormality affecting a small percentage of Ridgeback puppies. An earlier study presented at at the 1996 RR World Congress that was never formally published found that supplementation with folic acid, which is found in many foods, including leafy green vegetables, markedly reduces and even eliminates the expression of this congenital disorder. Researchers can expect a high degree of participation and cooperation by Ridgeback breeders around the world. Contact Denise at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Need Ridgeback health information in your country?
Below are the current health coordinators for various Ridgeback clubs around the world. Not every country has a health committee. If your club/country is missing, please contact us to be added.
Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Great Britain
Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Israel
Rhodesian Ridgeback Club Nederland
Rhodesian Ridgeback Klubben
Watch this space for details on the 2020 Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress, which will be held in Germany.
Previous World Congresses
1984: Johannesburg, South Africa
1988: Hilleroed, Denmark
1992: Warwickshire, England
1996: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
2000: Garderen, Netherlands
2004: Dallas, Texas, United States
2008: Portumna, Ireland
2012: Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
2016: Lund, Sweden
Norsk Rhodesian Ridgeback Klubb
Specialklubben Rhodesian Ridgeback Sverige
Slovensky Klub Chovatel'ov Ridgebackov
Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States