Here are presented two different Rhodesian ridgeback standards:
1. Current FCI Standard
2. 1922 Original Breed Standard
FCI Standard N° 146 / 10.12.1996 / GB
DATE OF PUBLICATION OF THE ORIGINAL VALID STANDARD
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is still used to hunt game in many parts of the world, but is especially prized as watch-dog and family pet.
Group 6 Scenthounds and related breeds.
Section 3 Related breeds.
Without working trial.
BRIEF HISTORICAL SUMMARY
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is presently the only registered breed indigenous to southern Africa. Its forbears can be traced to the Cape Colony of Southern Africa, where they crossed with the early pioneer's dogs and the semi-domesticated, ridged Hottentot hunting dogs. Hunting mainly in groups of two or three, the original function of the Rhodesian Ridgeback or Lion dog was to track game, especially lion, and, with great agility, keep it at bay until the arrival of the hunter.
The original standard, which was drafted by F.R.Barnes, in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, in 1922, was based on that of the Dalmatian and was approved by the South African Kennel Union in 1926.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well balanced, strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in outline, and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed. The emphasis is on agility, elegance and soundness with no tendency towards massiveness. The peculiarity of the breed is the ridge on the back, which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge is the escutcheon of the breed. The ridge must be clearly defined, symmetrical and tapering towards the haunch. It must start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to the hip (haunches) bones. The ridge must contain only two crowns, identical and opposite each other. The lower edges of the crowns must not extend further down the ridge than one-third of its length. A good average width of the ridge is 5cm (2”).
BEHAVIOUR / TEMPERAMENT
Dignified, intelligent, aloof with strangers, but showing no aggression or shyness.
Skull: Should be of a hair length (width of head between ears, distance from occiput to stop, stop to end of nose, should be equal), flat and broad between the ears; the head should be free from wrinkles when in repose.
Stop: The stop should be reasonably well defined and not in one straight line from the nose to the occipital bone.
Nose: The nose should be black or brown. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown nose by amber eyes.
Muzzle: The muzzle should be long, deep and powerful.
Lips: The lips should be clean, closely fitting the jaws.
Jaws/Teeth: Jaws strong, with a perfect and complete scissor bite, i.e. the upper teeth closely overlapping the lower teeth and set square to the jaws. The teeth must be well developed, especially the canines or holders.
Cheeks: Cheeks should be clean.
Eyes: Should be moderately well apart, round, bright and sparkling, with intelligent expression, their colour harmonising with the colour of the coat.
Ears: Should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at base, and gradually tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head.
Should be fairly long, strong and free from throatiness.
Loins: Strong, muscular and slightly arched.
Chest: Should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious; the brisket should reach to the elbow. Forechest should be visible when viewed from the side. Ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel-hoops.
Should be strong at the root and gradually tapering towards the end, free form coarseness. It should be of moderate length. It should not be attached too high nor too low, and should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled.
FORE - QUARTERS
The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and well boned, with the elbows close to the body. When viewed from the side, the forelegs should be wider than viewed from the front.
Shoulders: The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular.
Pastern: Should be strong with light spring.
In the hind legs the muscles should be clean and well defined.
Stifle: Good turn of stifle.
Hock: Strong, well let down.
The feet should be compact and round, with well arched toes and tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads.
GAIT / MOVEMENT
Straight forward, free and active.
Height at withers
63-69 cm (25” -27”)
61-66 cm (24” -26”)
36,5 kg (80 lbs)
32 kg (70 lbs)
Any departure from the foregoing points should be considered a fault and the seriousness with which the fault should be regarded should be in exact proportion to its degree.
Any dog clearly showing physical or behavioural abnormalities shall be disqualified.
N.B.: Male animals should have two apparently normal testicles fully descended into the scrotum.
1922 Original Rhodesian Ridgeback breed standard
DESCRIPTION OF THE RHODESIAN RIDGEBACK (LION DOG)
The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back, which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. This ridge, which must be regarded as the escutcheon of the breed, is broad behind the shoulders and tapers off towards the root of the tail. It should be clearly defined and start immediately behind the shoulders and continue up to or over the loin. In shape it resembles a fiddle with the string towards the tail. A dog without a clearly defined ridge is not recognised as belonging to this breed.
IN GENERAL APPEARANCE
The Ridgeback should represent a strong, muscular and active dog, symmetrical in outline and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed.
Should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkle. The stop should be defined and not in one straight line from the nose to the occiput as required in a Bull Terrier.
THE MUZZLE should be long, deep and powerful, jaws level and strong with well developed teeth, especially the canines or holders. The lips clean, close fitting the jaws.
Should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling, with intelligent expression, their colour harmonising with the colour of the dog.
Should be set on rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and gradually tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head.
Should be black but a lighter colour is admissible if it is in keeping with the colour of the dog. A spotted nose is incorrect, but is not a disqualification.
THE NECK AND SHOULDERS
The neck should be fairly long, strong and entirely free from throatiness. The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed.
THE BODY, BACK, CHEST AND LOINS
The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops ( which would indicate want of speed); the back powerful; and loins strong, muscular and slightly arched.
LEGS AND FEET
The fore legs should be perfectly straight, strong and heavy in bone, elbows close to the body. Fore feet round, compact, with well arched toes, round tough elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads. In the hind legs the muscles should be clean, though well defined and the hocks well let down.
Should not be too strong; strong at the insertion but gradually tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should not be inserted too low down, but carried with a slight curve upwards and never curled.A short tail is a blemish, but not a disqualification.
Should be short, hard, dense and fine, sleek and glossy in appearnace, but neither woolly nor silky.
Brindles, fawns, sables, whole colours or mixed with white.
Up to 28 inches.
Up to 80 lbs.
Standard written by F.R. Barnes in 1922 and accepted by the South African Kennel Union (now the Kennel Union of Southern Africa) in 1926.
1931 - height reduced from 28 inches for dogs and bitches to dogs (25-27"), bitches (24-26").
1936 -color description was changed to Wheaten preferred, fawn permissible. (During the 1940's the current color description was selected.)