Ridgeback are supposed to be “wheaten”: What does that mean?

 

Wheaten, which literally means the color of wheat, isn’t one flat, monochromatic color. If you look close up at a single Ridgeback hair, you will find that it’s actually banded, with light and dark shades ranging from a gold to a red. This variegation in the coat is what gives it “life.”

 

"Save the Light Wheaten" T-shirt -- it's only partially a joke.

“Save the Light Wheaten” T-shirt … it’s only partially a joke.

 

Just as a wheat field may be many different colors, depending on the maturity of the crop, so too do Ridgeback coats vary. The lighter ones are a pale flaxen color, almost blonde, while on the other end of the spectrum dogs can be a rich reddish tone, though it should never appear muddy or mahogany, like that of an Irish Setter.

Dark red dogs are flashy, and in many parts of the world, deep-red Ridgebacks – some would argue too red – have displaced any other color.

Light wheatens can still be found in Scandinavia, the United Kingdom and the United States. While, like many Ridgeback breeders, I don’t breed for a specific color of wheaten, for me, there is nothing quite so striking as a light wheaten Ridgeback with a gorgeous, round, dark eye.

Sadly, light wheatens are becoming so numerically small that I spotted this T-shirt last year. They’re not up there with panda bears and black rhinos – at least, not yet.

 

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