What makes a Ridgeback "pet quality"?
are several cosmetic issues that automatically remove a newborn
Ridgeback from consideration as a show dog. None of them have any impact
on the dog's health or lovability.
and foremost is the lack of a ridge – ridgeless dogs cannot be shown,
as the lack of a ridge is a disqualification in the AKC standard.
if a newborn Ridgeback has a ridge, it might not be the "right" ridge. A
"show-quality ridge" consists of two crowns, or swirls, located
opposite one another in the upper one-third of the ridge. (Though the
standard asks that the crowns be symmetrical, crowns that are slightly
offset, or not perfectly aligned, are considered acceptable by many
breeders, this one incouded.) Dogs that have more or less than two
crowns, or crowns that are too offset (perhaps an inch or more) are pet
The presence of too much white – for example, a white "sock" on the front leg that extends to the elbow – is another cosmetic reason for "pet" status.
health issues also preclude a puppy from being shown. Dermoid sinus,
the congenital condition in which a tube opens up onto the surface of
the skin, eventually becoming infected and abscessed, is present at
birth. Though breeders feel, or palpate, for these abnormalities, even
experienced breeders can miss them at birth if they are in a
hard-to-palpate area, such as the tail, and discover them later on the
growing pups. Dermoid puppies are sometimes culled (euthanized) or
surgeried, depending on the size and intricacy of the dermoid and the
breeder's own preference.
How are Ridgebacks with children?
Wonderful, with some caveats.
have a deep and intuitive connection to their people. It has been
observed that this breed does not protect property – instead, it looks
out for its loved ones wherever they may be.
raised with children form a deep bond with them that is humbling to
watch. As a rule, adult Ridgebacks that have been well socialized to
children are impressively accepting of their fumbling handling as well
as assorted indignities such as being forced to wear an Easter bonnet.
(Though of course no dog of any breed should be left unattended with
an adult Ridgeback is confronted with a new human arrival in the
household, it might take a while – months, even up to a year – for him
or her to get totally accustomed to the new baby. But once the Ridgeback
understands that the baby is yours – that the household circle has
expanded to include this new being, who is a permanent, not temporary
addition – the loyalty he will show to that child will be awe-inspiring.
said, Ridgeback puppies and toddlers are rarely an effortless pairing.
Ridgeback puppies can be mouthy, with sharp, alligator-like teeth, and
adolescent Ridgebacks can knock down a toddler with their exuberance,
not to mention their whip-like tails.
general, I do not sell Ridgebacks to families with children under age
5, though I do make exceptions for those who are very experienced with
Do you ship puppies?
No, not unless I have already met you in person.
consider every puppy that I bring into this world – whether it’s a show
dog or a pet, whether it has a ridge or not, whether it’s a young puppy
or an oldster – to be my ultimate responsibility.
that reason, I do not and will not place puppies sight unseen, no
matter how nice you sound on the phone, no matter how erudite your
emails. I need to meet you – and you need to meet me – to make sure that
this is a relationship that can and will last the lifetime of your dog.
Most reputable breeders I work with and respect feel the same way.
you are unable to visit me, then I can direct you to a breeder who is
in a more convenient geographic area for you. Similarly, if you live in
the metropolitan New York area, there are dozens of reputable breeders
within a reasonable driving radius. There is simply no reason to buy
from someone you have never met. Emails and phone calls can only take
you so far: There is no substitute for meeting a breeder in person.
How much should I expect to pay for a Ridgeback?
depends a great deal on geography. On the East and West coasts,
Ridgebacks tend to be more expensive because of the higher cost of
living (and breeding). In the metropolitan New York area, it is not
unusual to find well-bred pet-quality Ridgebacks selling for $1,500 and
Show-quality puppies can start at $2,000.
When I visit a breeder, should the sire and dam be on the premises?
first glance, having the sire on premise may seem like a good thing,
because, after all, it is wonderful to meet both your puppy’s parents
and gauge their well-being and temperament. Keep in mind, however, that a
reputable breeder is looking for the perfect match for his or her
female. That may not necessarily be the stud dog that lives under their
roof. Those breeders who use stud dogs that are out of state or clear
across the country are doing so despite the inconvenience and extra cost
because they are going the extra mile to plan a breeding that they
believe will have the best chances of accomplishing their goals.
in many cases, the stud will not be on premise. But the breeder should
be able to show you photographs of him, share the results of his health
screenings, and articulate why she chose him to complement her bitch.
on to the dam. Yes, in most cases, the mother of the puppies will be on
premises. There are, however, some exceptions to this, and they
Stud-fee puppies. Sometimes, in lieu of a stud fee, a stud-dog owner
will request a puppy. Such puppies are generally show quality, and the
stud-dog owner may choose to bring the puppy home and sell it to a local
home if there is no room at her place for another dog. Such
arrangements are very common. The stud-dog owner should be willing to
share photographs of the dam, as well as contact information for the
breeder of record. And you will of course be able to meet the stud dog.
Co-ownerships. Because many breeders run small home-based operations,
as opposed to having kennel facilities, some choose to place their
bitches on co-ownerships so that they can have access to the females in
order to show and breed them. In such situations, the dam may not be on
the premises when you first visit, as the litter may be whelped at the
co-owner’s home. If the litter is whelped at the breeder’s, the dam
might go back home after the puppies are weaned, especially if there is
an older female at the home who can take over “mommy duty” and teach the
puppies correct manners and good inter-doggie coping skills.
both of these scenarios, the breeder should be able to explain the
arrangements that led to the breeding and whelping, and, unless she is
out of state, arrange for you to meet the dam, either at her home or
during a pre-scheduled visit.
My puppy's ears are "crinkling," and refuse to lie flat. What can I do?
around 4 months of age, some Ridgeback puppies develop what breeders
affectionately call “flying nun ears”: Instead of lying flat in neat
triangles next to the head, the ears will crimp, crease, fold and
generally misbehave, looking for all the world like a piece of origami.
breeders believe these misbehaving ears are the result of calcium
demands made on the puppy’s body while he is teething, and will often
supplement with a high-calcium food such as cottage cheese or whole
milk. Pharmaceutical calcium supplementation is not recommended. For
ears that do not respond to this approach, some breeders advocate taping
the ears are not “fixed” before the puppy is six or so months old,
there is a good chance they might stay that way. “Flying nun ears” have
absolutely no health impact, and are only a cosmetic concern,
particularly for those owners who puppies are headed for the show ring.
My Ridgeback has these weird lighter-colored areas over his shoulders – it that normal?
Many, if not most, Ridgebacks have lighter shading behind their
shoulders, as well as on their necks and on their "britches" (the area
you see from the "rear view"). Many new owners are taken aback at what
they think is "weird" coloring, but it is entirely normal and visible on
most every Ridgeback you will meet. You just never noticed.
Is my Ridgeback fat?
if you have to ask, he or she probably is. Sadly, many competent vets
do not even know what a Ridgeback in good weight looks like. If your
ridgie is beginning to resemble the neighborhood Labs in size and
silhouette, that is not a good thing. Click here to determine whether your Ridgeback is fit ... or fat.
when my Ridgeback falls asleep, he gets this weird "possessed look," as
if his eyeballs are turning up inside his head. Is something wrong?
No need to call Rome. While arguably grosser than light-shaded shoulders, this too is normal for our fascinating breed.
you are seeing is the "third eyelid" – formally called the nictitating
membrane. If you look in the mirror, you can see the human version of
this membrane, which is non-functional: It's that pink lump in the
corner of your eye nearest your nose.
a normal, healthy dog, this membrane is never visible when he is alert
and active. However, during particularly restless, twitchy periods of
sleep, the dog may open his eyes partially, and this membrane may be
visible covering a portion of the eye.
My Ridgeback hates having his nails cut. What should I do?
breed can be positively phobic about having its nails touched,
particular on the front feet and particularly if you are exerting
concentrated pressure, as with a clipper.
try a Dremel -- those hand-held tools sold at Home Depot and other
home-improvements stores. (Don't bother with the battery Dremel -- it
doesn't have enough juice. Go with the plug-in and use the cylindrical
sanding attachment.) Many Ridgebacks respond positively to this method
of nail maintenance if properly introduced.
with your Dremel plugged in, and a pile of cubed cheese at your side.
Without turning it on, tap the Dremel gently against your dog's nail.
Treat generously and repeat many times. Once your dog is more interested
in the cheese than the Dremel, simply turn the Dremel on, but do not
apply to the nails yet! Your Ridgeback will likely be alarmed by the
sound. Turn the Dremel on in short bursts, giving treats generously
after each one, until your dog is more interested in the cheese than the
sound of the Dremel.
begin alternating these two pieces: tap with the Dremel, turn the
Dremel on for two seconds, tap, Dremel sound, tap, Dremel sound. When
the dog is familiar and accustomed to both, then and only then put them
together. Don't worry about accomplishing anything with the first "live"
Dremeling -- just tap the toe, praise lavishly, and administered
rewarding as you go, slowly progress to more nails and more time on
each nail. Do not stint on the positive food reinforcement: With enough
Gouda, all things are possible. Click here for a popular Dremeling tutorial by a Doberman fancier.
Will my Ridgeback be protective?
Not unless he needs to be.
owners - oftentimes, male ones - grow concerned when their Ridgeback does not show any "protective" behavior. This is
because the Ridgeback, who is an excellent judge of character and
discriminating guardian, does not overreact to or innately mistrust
are if your Ridgeback has never showed distrust or animosity toward
those outside his circles, it is because he has not had need to.
no circumstances should the guarding or protective instincts in a
Ridgeback be enhanced with training or provocation. Instead, accept that
they will only surface if there is genuine need for them, which
hopefully is never.
What does your kennel name mean, anyway?
My family comes from a part of northernmost Italy called Trentino Alto-Adige – specifically, from the town of Revo in the Dolomites. A "revodana" is a local term for a woman from that town, which is located in the Val di Non.
Italian is the official language in Revo and throughout this part of
Europe, the native tongue is a pre-Romance language called Nones
in my particular valley, and Ladin in general. The result of a
collision between Latin and Celtic around the time of the birth of
Christ, this earthy peasant language is a kissing cousin to the Romansch
spoken in Switzerland.
Non Valley and its peculiar cultural flavor was documented in the
scholarly work "Hidden Frontier: Ecology and Ethnicity in an Alpine
Valley" by American anthropologists John W. Cole and Eric R. Wolf.