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This document has been prepared by the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of Scotland (RRCS) and provides guidelines for owners, potential owners, breeders and potential breeders.

Every member of the RRCS should do everything in his/her power to protect and advance the interests of the breed and its standard. The principles laid out in this document should be considered in every aspect of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, including general home life, showing, breeding and selling.

When in any doubt please contact a Committee member of the RRCS, your vet, experienced breeders or owners.

Members are reminded that if they are members of other Rhodesian Ridgeback Clubs they may be bound by those clubs’ Code of Ethics.


Owning a Rhodesian Ridgeback involves considerable responsibility and any decision to buy one should not be taken lightly.


Make sure that you read about the Breed, understand what you will be taking on, and go and see dogs in their home environment. This is an invaluable exercise - experience has shown that some keen prospective owners do change their minds after a home visit. Better safe than sorry.

Remember that concern for the Breed takes precedence over personal gain, profit or glory.


If you decide to buy, ensure that you buy from a reputable breeder with registered Rhodesian Ridgeback stock. Inform the Secretary of the RRCS of your requirements. The Secretary will endeavour to put you in touch with appropriate breeders. Go and see the bitch if at all possible. Ensure that the bitch is not overly nervous or protective of the puppies. Check on the puppies’ environment and ensure that they are being well looked after and being well socialised. These early days are so important.


Join the RRCS - this will keep you in touch with other members and their dogs. The Club caters for both showing and non-showing members. Note that Members of the RRCS who breed are encouraged to provide you with one year’s free membership of the RRCS.


Ensure that the puppy is at least 8 weeks old when you take it home. The breeder should provide you with inoculation and worming history, diet sheet and insurance for a limited time.


The RRCS strongly recommends that you insure your Ridgeback with a reputable company and keep it insured. Vets bills can be severe and insurance does take away any concerns over affordability.


Keep in touch with the breeder and ask for advice when necessary. Remember that the breeder wants to hear how the dog is progressing.

Once you buy a dog you are responsible for its welfare for the rest of its life. Do not let it down.


Remember that owning a KC registered dog means that you should abide by the Kennel Club General Code of Ethics.


Your dog should be exercised regularly, not allowed to roam and wormed and inoculated regularly. It should be given an annual inspection by a vet.

Whenever you are out in public you are both ambassadors of the Breed. Encourage people to talk about the Breed and refer them to the RRCS as necessary.


The RRCS recommends training and obedience classes for the younger dogs. Socialising the puppy is essential in all areas of its new world. Make sure that the training classes follow the gentle modern methods - choke chains are out!


No owner should engage in intentionally false or misleading advertising. Fellow owners and judges must not be maligned.

At the end of your dog’s life, please ensure his/her dignity.


Prospective owners should be vetted for suitability ie. their home environment and their commitment to raise and exercise a Rhodesian Ridgeback.


Puppies should not be sold to dealers, traders or other organisations which sell puppies for profit.


Puppies should not be taken away from the next under the age of 8 weeks.


All puppies should be KC registered before the sale.


Puppies with known genetic defects should not be sold unless an agreement is reached with the new owner. In this case the puppy should be neutered at the appropriate time. If in any doubt, the puppy’s papers should be endorsed.


New owners should be informed of dermoid sinus and how to detect it.


The breeder should always be available for consultation with the new owner and should rehome if necessary.


Mismarked puppies should be described as such and the registration endorsed “Progeny not to be registered”.


On completion of the sale, the breeder should issue the pedigree, diet sheet, inoculation/worming history and any insurance.


The RRCS strongly recommends that formal agreements are entered into between the breeder and new owner. See attached example - legal advice should be sought.


The aim of b​reeding is to produce Ridgebacks of outstanding quality - both in conformation and character. Breeding is time consuming and costly and demands good facilities - the decision to breed should not be taken lightly.


Ensure that the breeding stock are well matched, exhibit no aggression or acute nervousness and there is no gross variance from the Breed Standard.

Breeding Stock must be Kennel Club registered and should be hip scored. Dogs with excessive hip scores should not be bred from. Breeders should use their judgement when breeding from stock with hip scores over the breed average.


The RRCS recognises that Hip Dysplasia can be caused by a number of factors. However, the British Veterinary Association recommends that breeding stock should be chosen with scores well below the breed average. From 1 January 2000, the RRCS will provide potential puppy buyers with hip score information of the dam and sire. This information will be requested from the breeder when that breeder notifies the Club that a litter is due. If either the dam or sire has scores well above the breed mean score, and there is no satisfactory explanation from the breeder, the RRCS reserves the right not to pass prospective buyers to that breeder.


Stud dog owners should check on the suitability of a bitch before agreeing on the dog’s use. Stud dog owners should also be discerning about the number of times the dog is used. The RRCS strongly recommends that formal agreements between the stud dog owner and the owner of the bitch be entered into. See attached example. Breeders are advised to seek advice from their lawyer.


In general, bitches should not be bred from before the age of 24 months and not on the first season. Judgement should be used on the bitch’s maturity.

Bitches over the age of 4 years, and being bred for the first time, should be checked by a vet to ensure their fitness to have a litter.

Bitches should not be bred from over the age of 8 years.


Other than in exceptional circumstances, bitches should not have more than 3 litters and there should be a gap of 12 months between litters.

Breeders should check for dermoid sinus from birth through to selling to the new home. Advice from breeders who have experienced dermoid sinus should be sought. Operating on puppies with dermoid sinus is now possible, dependant on the severity. Again, advice should be sought from recommended vets who have experience of performing this surgery. Any puppy operated on for dermoid sinus should be neutered. If dermoid sinus is discovered after the puppy is sold, the breeder should offer to take the puppy back and reimburse or replace with another puppy, or pay to have the puppy operated on to have the condition fixed. In this last case the puppy should be neutered.


Ridgeless puppies can occur in breeding. If this happens then the puppy should be registered as Non-Standard and fully endorsed and sold at a minimal cost ie. Rearing costs only. They should be neutered and homed with an endorsed KC Registration certificate. This certificate goes some way in providing proof of breed type in the event of the dog being mis-identified as a pit bull type.


The RRCS is very concerned about the increasing number of Ridgebacks throughout the UK that require to be rescued or rehomed. The RRCS recommends that no member should breed more than two litters in any 12 month period. Again, the RRCS reserves the right not to pass prospective owners on to breeders who do not comply with this recommendation.

Recommended Reading


Breed Specific

Rhodesian Ridgeback - Compiled by Ann Woodrow

The Complete Rhodesian Ridgeback - by Janet Parker and Peter Nicholson

Guide to the Rhodesian Ridgeback - Compiled by the RR Club of GB

Ridgeback Revealed  - Timmy U. Ralfe

The Illustrated Breed Standard - Midlands and Northern Rhodesian Ridgeback Club


Dog Training, The Gentle Method - by David Weston (Fleetfoot Books)

The Culture Clash - Jean Donaldson

The Doglopaedia - A Complete Guide to Dog Care - by J M Evans & Kay White (Henston) - (Everything you need to know about health, welfare and training)

The Book of the Bitch - by J M Evans & Kay White (Henston) - (A must for everyone contemplating having a litter from their bitch)


Recommended for new puppy owners - how to bring up your puppy in the correct way using positive reinforcement training

Easy Peasy Puppy Squeezy - Steve Mann

Before and After Getting a Puppy (The positive approach to raising a happy, healthy and well behaved dog) - Ian Dunbar

Good Puppy - Erica Peachey

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