Health in the Rhodesian Ridgeback

A website has been set up by the RR World Congress Health committee to help co-ordinate global research and the sharing of information.  Please follow the link to view:

JME - Junior Myoclonic Epilepsy  - Discovered Summer 2016

There has been a recent discovery of a new type of Epilepsy affecting the Rhodesian Ridgeback - research is still on-going and a commercial test has recently been launched (March 2017).  IT is too early to say how prevalent the gene is in the RR population, we will update this page with more information as it becomes available.

The following has been taken from the Laboklin website, one UK based lab where the test can be carried out:

Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME) in Rhodesian Ridgebacks

JME is an inherited disease in the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed. Affected dogs start showing symptoms between the age of 6 weeks and 18 months. Symptoms include frequest myoclonic jerks or twiches especially when the dogs are sleeping or resting. Photo sensitivity has also been noticed in affected dogs. Most affected dogs will also develop more severe generalized and tonic clonic seizures.

Due to the recessive mode of inheritance, affected dogs must inherit two copies of the mutation, one from each parents.

The test will tell you if your dog has 0, 1 or 2 copies of the mutation. Clear (N/N) and carriers (N/ JME) are healthy dogs and will not develop the specific symptoms associated with the JME mutation, however carriers should only be bred to clear dogs to avoid having affected puppies.

Please note that there are other forms of epilepsy that cannot be eliminated by this test.

Click here to visit Laboklin

There is also a Facebook page dedicated to JME.

EOAD  - Early Onset Adult Deafness

An inherited deafness clinically documented among purebred dogs of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed. Affected dogs appear to show normal hearing early in post-natal development, but ultimately these dogs lose their hearing, often with complete loss by 1 year of age. 

Research in Dr. Neff’s lab has established that the genetic mode of transmission from parent to offspring follows a simple Mendelian autosomal recessive pattern of inheritance. This means that any sire or dam that has previously produced affected progeny must be a carrier of the causal mutation.

Follow this link for information on testing, the code is liondog : 

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) is a devastating degenerative disease of the spinal cord that can progress rapidly and cause weakness in the hind limbs and eventually paraplegia among genotypically affected dogs.

There are tests available, Laboklin (link above in JME section) or:


Dermoid Sinus (DS)

Dermoid sinus is a neural tube defect that is estimated to affect around 4% of Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies born globally.  It is now widely accepted that DS can be operated and removed when the puppy is around 8 weeks of age by a skilled Veterinarian.  The puppy should not be bred from and should be castrated/spayed at the appropriate age but otherwise will lead a normal life.  If the DS is not removed it will become infected which will result in pain, swelling and possibly further complications.  It should be noted that normal, unaffected parents can still produce DS affected off-spring.

Dermoid Sinus, if present. will be found along the dorsal mid-line - including the tail and the top of the hear between the ears.  There can be a single or multiple, and they are viewed as a tiny opening on the skin, like a small mole to look at.  On shaving the region it will become apparent that a DS is there.  Puppies with DS are born with it - it's not something that will develop as the pup ages, it may get infected but it will always have been present as it is a birth defect.  

Puppies should be checked by multiple breeders/owners/veterinarians who have experienced the condition as it can be difficult to spot on some.  For advice on how to check please contact us.

There is still research on-going as to the cause and genetic link of DS but at this time it is unknown.  There was a thought that the Ridge may be to blame, but as DS is found in many other breeds as well as Ridgeless Ridgebacks this has yet to be proven.

There is a lot of information on Dermoid Sinus on the internet, please follow the links below to read more:

Info from RR Club of the United States:

A research study into inherritance:

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