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.)
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.