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Genetic Diseases
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Genetic Diseases of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

Some may find the following list shocking but the following diseases have been reported in the Veterinary medical literature as occurring in this breed.

bulletAortic Stenosis
bulletSeasonal Flank Alopecia
bulletDermoid Sinus
bulletMeningeal Cysts
bulletCerebellar Degeneration 
bulletColor Dilution Syndrome
bulletEversion of 3rd Eyelid
bulletCalcinosis Circumscripta 
bulletTransitional Vertebra 
bulletHip Dysplasia 
bulletPersistent Pupilary Membr.
bulletElbow Dysplasia
bulletSpondylosis Deformans 
bulletWobblers Syndrome 
bulletRenal Dysplasia

What can be done about genetic diseases?  Well, canine geneticists estimate that the average purebred dog carries at  least 4 defective genes.  He or she may not be showing them but they are hidden within their genome. So you can mate a normal looking dog carrying elbow dysplasia with another normal looking dog carrying genes for elbow dysplasia and produce a litter of dysplastic pups.

So, then what to do?  Support Open Registries and urge every breeder to use one.  Basically, an open registry encourages breeders to test every puppy they produce for whatever genetic diseases their breed may be carrying and register these findings (good or bad) .  In this way one can see what may be going on with an entire litter.  So, if you have 6 pups and one is normal but 5 have cataracts then that one who looks normal may be carrying a gene for cataracts.  This is much different from having 6 pups one which has cataracts and 5 that do not.  For more information about what an open registry is you may wish to log onto Or phone the Institute for Genetic Disease Control in Animals at (530) 756-6773.

Do all you can to find out where affected and carriers are among a dog’s siblings, offspring and relatives.

Another great website for genetic information is:  




Do not breed to a dog whose owner will not supply that information.  Screen as many of your own dogs as possible and supply this information to buyers and breeders.


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Last modified: February 01, 2003