My dog has a ridge that comes and goes. Could he be a Ridgeback?

 

The short answer is: Probably not.

 

Many people who have never seen a Ridgeback confuse a dog’s “hackles” – the hair standing up on the shoulders and sometimes the back, often when the dog is excited – with a ridge. (The technical term for this is the vaguely naughty sounding “piloerection.”) But ridges don’t “come and go.” They are a permanent, and very well demarcated, line of backward-running hair on the dog’s back. Ridges won’t succumb to a “comb over.”

 

(When Ridgebacks have raised hackles, the hair above, below and, sometimes, around the ridge will be erect, but the hairs of the ridge itself will stay flat.)

 

Two views of a ridgeless puppy. At left, a normal "slickback." But then the hair is ruffled and brushed against the grain, this faint cowlick appears.

Two views of a ridgeless puppy. At left, a normal “slickback.” But when the hair is ruffled and brushed against the natural lie of the coat, this faint cowlick appears.

 

There is a relatively rare exception, and that is the “phantom ridge” sometimes seen on the backs of purebred ridgeless Ridgebacks. (See photos above.) This isn’t a traditional ridge as we understand it – the hair does not form a visible, tapering stripe on the back. But sometimes, under the right conditions, or if the hair is brushed “against the grain,” one can note a very faint line running up the back, or along a portion of it. This looks more like a disruption in the hair patterning than a bona-fide ridge. And it makes for neat cocktail-party chatter … but only when the gathering is filled with Ridgebackers. Everyone else will yawn.

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  1. Chris Stone says:

    I have seen on a slick back puppy in a friend’s litter the faint outline of a perfect ridge. To the naked eye all the hairs on the back ran in the same direction but there must have been smallest deviation thus producing evidence or the effect of a ridge. It could be described as appearing like a fine pencil drawing of a ridge outline.
    In my 32 years of breeding and showing RR’s I have not seen this before.

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