Named for the region in Africa where they originated, Rhodesian ridgebacks are best recognized for their unique fur pattern -- a distinctive hairline running down the back where the fur grows in the opposite direction from the main coat. Owners in the market for a ridgeback should remember puppies with a ridge will have the ridge from birth, while puppies not showing the ridge will not develop one as they age.
A Genetic Mutation
The distinctive ridgeback hairline is caused by a genetic mutation passed on by either parent. It is possible for a litter to contain both ridgeless and ridgeback puppies. A proper ridge should start behind your dog’s shoulders, run down the back and end near the dog’s hips with identical crowns on opposite ends. Because the ridge is visible from birth, potential owners can tell whether a dog possesses the namesake fur line simply by examining the pup. While many purebred ridgebacks are ridgeless, the American Kennel Club only recognizes Rhodesians displaying the iconic ridge, regardless of the dog’s pedigree.
Jen Gehring is a political consultant and college law professor. She holds a J.D. from American University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of Cincinnati. She began working as a professional writer in 2010.