Analysis of National Rhodesian Ridgeback Club Breed Genetics Survey Data- 2006 survey
Many thanks to the 25 breeders who submitted information to the Breed Genetics Survey. Information was received on 1397 pups born in 166 litters (average litter size 8.4 pups) from across the country. The breakdown of the 166 litters geographically was as follows: 52 from Victoria, 39 from NSW, 29 from Queensland, 20 from South Australia, 1 from West Australia and 25 not stated.
Some comparative data from the 2001 Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of USA (RRCUS) Health Survey is of interest. This is based on a sample of 1763 dogs and as such is more likely to provide accurate data as it seems to be based on dogs bred and kept by US breeders. For example the underlying dataset started with 278 breeders returning information on 1263 dogs. As this is an average of 4.5 dogs per breeder it is more likely to represent longer term information on dogs kept in addition to issues seen in litters. This is sourced from https://www.rrcus.org/assets/html/about/health_genetics/96health_update.htm
From the 2001 data the 10 diseases/disorders that affected the greatest number of Ridgebacks, based upon number of Ridgebacks affected per susceptible survey population were as noted in Table I.
A summary of the information gained by the RRCUS was as follows:
"Hypothyroidism continues to be our number one endocrine disease, and a statistically significant number (83%) of these dogs are spayed or neutered. Unfortunately, we cannot be certain from this data what occurred first (spaying/neutering vs. the diagnosis of hypothyroidism) but, in most cases, it appears that spaying/neutering occurred first. This supports observations in the veterinary literature of an increased frequency of hypothyroidism in neutered dogs.
Ridgelessness and dermoid sinuses continue to be our major dermatologic concerns.
However, there are some areas of difference;
Urinary incontinence remains a problem limited primarily to spayed females (74% of the affected dogs were spayed females, the remainder were males) supporting a diagnosis of "spay" or "estrogen-responsive" incontinence.
The incidence of hip dysplasia has basically remained constant (2.7% in 1996 vs. 2.5% in 2000) but the incidence of elbow dysplasia in the susceptible survey population has almost doubled (.5% in 1996 vs. .9% in 2000). Keep in mind that these are very small numbers of affected dogs, but perhaps this is a trend we need to monitor.
Excessive aggression is still our primary behavioral concern. Although environment and socialization opportunities can significantly impact a Ridgeback’s level of aggression, genetic influence on behavior cannot be ignored when making breeding decisions.
Mast cell cancer is without question the most frequent type of cancer seen in the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The RRCUS Health and Genetics Committee has prioritized mast cell cancer as an area of research. We have recently "combined forces" with the Chinese Shar-Pei Club of America, the Staffordshire Bull Terrier Club of America, and the Boston Terrier Club of America in sponsoring AKC/CHF research on the biology and genetics of canine mast cell tumors.
Lastly, it is sad to see that the number one cause of death in Ridgebacks over 6 months of age is a very preventable problem- hit by car. It cannot be overemphasized to Ridgeback owners, and especially puppy buyers new to the breed, that the sighthound nature of these dogs can easily get them into trouble when allowed off lead in unsecured areas."
The comparison of the key US issues and the Australian data shows some areas of commonality and some where the Australian data differs eg the dermoid sinus- rates are very similar, as are issues such as death from chasing cars-although we did not collect this data.
National Rhodesian Ridgeback Council of Australia Inc