What is a responsible breeder?

So you’re decided that a Rhodesian Ridgeback is the breed for you. Now what? The next step is to find a responsible, reputable breeder that you feel comfortable with and who is available to answer your questions, and who can help you find the right puppy to fit your lifestyle. While Rhodesian Ridgebacks are still a relatively unknown breed in the United States, there are quite a few reputable breeders who are members of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS), and subscribe to the RRCUS Code of Ethics. This Code includes several important provisions that are intended to assure the continued improvement of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, and also to protect puppy buyers. These provisions include the following: 

An ethical, responsible breeder: 

  • Does not engage in the overbreeding of dogs for profit without regard for quality and health of the dogs. 
  • Studies and assessed the faults and attributes of both proposed parents, becoming well informed of those considered genetic (inheritable). An ethical breeder is sincere in the intent of not breeding dogs with defects that are likely to cause impairment of the health of the dogs or offspring and are concerned about producing sound temperaments. 
  • Informs buyers about the dermoid sinus and how to detect it, and has checked their puppies before they go home.
  • Is available to buyers for consultation even after completion of a sale and for the duration of the puppies’ life.
  • Conducts appropriate health screens on proposed breeding stock including x-ray the hips and elbows and will use only dogs certified clear of hip/elbow dysplasia for breeding, and usually conducts additional screening for other potential issues. OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) certification or OFA preliminary results are available on the OFA website and the breeder can direct prospective puppy buyers to their dog's information.  

Avoid buying puppies from pet shops. These dogs are typically produced wholesale by "puppy farms" where the sole purpose is producing a salable product, and often the parents and puppies are kept in horrific conditions. Although pet shop puppies usually have AKC registration papers, you should know that this registration implies absolutely no guarantee or certification of quality. The original purpose of the AKC was a dog registry and while they have assumed a leadership role in promoting responsible breeding, dog ownership, and organizing and promoting dog events, they do not have enforcement authority regarding poor breeding practices. Puppy farms are in the business of wholesale production treating their dogs like livestock and typically do not care about possible inheritable health issues like the dermoid sinus, hip dysplasia, and temperament. When purchasing from a pet store the puppy buyer has no health history to rely upon when that cute little bundle arrives in their home. 

Many reputable breeders make a distinction between "show-potential" and " pet-quality/companion” puppies and price the dogs appropriately (show-potential puppies being approximately 30 - 50% higher than companion puppies) but we are seeing a growing trend with a single price for all puppies in a litter. Show-potential means that the dog has no obvious faults that would make it difficult or impossible for the dog to achieve an AKC championship. The most common faults are a defective ridge (too short, less than or more than two crowns) and excessive white or other color faults. Other faults that might be present are a kinked tail or imperfect bite. Faults of this sort are usually cosmetic rather than functional and do not affect the health of the dog. Remember that the breeder is making a decision that a puppy is "show potential" at a very young age (usually seven or eight weeks of age). It takes a fair amount of experience to make these kinds of predictions with any confidence, which is a compelling reason to buy from a breeder who either has considerable experience in the breed, or who has a network of breeder friends who can serve as consultants. Additionally, “companion” puppies may be eligible to compete in other AKC events such as lure coursing, obedience, and agility trials and these pups come from the same background and parents as a "show potential" puppy. While ridgeless ridgebacks are not able to compete in AKC events to earn titles, there are some field and agility events where they may enter. And, a ridgleless puppy comes from the same rigorous planning and screening process as their ridged littermates and are equally great family companions. 

As a matter of courtesy, when inquiring about puppies and requesting to be added to waiting lists please make sure you are up front if you are working with multiple breeders. If you are approved for a place on our waiting list, we may be turning away other potential puppy buyers and it is considered bad form hold a space on a breeders list when you are not sure you will be taking a puppy.