|This article was written for the RR Worls Congress 2004 in the USA. Since then it was updated. |
The standard of any breed is a document that indicates the “Idea” of the breed in the eyes of the dominant school at a certain time. Following the changes in the standard through the years gives us some indication about the changing idea of the breed through time.
This paper follow the evolution of the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed standard used by the FCI (the International Federation of Cynology, which is the governing cynology body in Europe, Asia, South America and many other countries) and in Africa. It does not deal with the American standard, which has its own historical progression.
The article will explore the description of the Ridgeback from the pre-standard days till our day.
The creation of the Rhodesian Ridgeback as a breed started when the role of the Lion Dog was almost over. At the beginning of the 20th Century, when the big-game expeditions were waning, a group of enthusiastic people made a bunch of different dogs a “breed.” The Rhodesian Ridgeback came to life when the Lion Dog of southern Africa was about to die.
The first document this article will refer to is the veterinarian Dr. Charles Edmonds’ 1923 article from the Farmer's Weekly, written under the pseudonym of “Farmer George.” Following is the original standard, written by Frances Barnes around the time of that famous meeting in Bulawayo in 1922. This became the official breed standard in 1926.
The article follows the changes in 1931 standard, 1936, 1944, 1948, 1952, 1963, 1978, 1980, 1982, 1986, 1989 and 1996.
The main part is a comparative study discussing the Ridge, size and weight and coloring.
It discuss the switch from what Edmond described in the early 1920s, as a dog with good speed, good senses of sight and smell, good paws, good breathing apparatus, intelligent, standoffish and independent, with a ridge on his back and size of 61 cm and 27kg, and varied colors: tawny, fawn, brindle, homogeneous or mixed with white, yellow eyes, nose sometimes brown or spotted, bite of any type, and tail that some times varied in length and with kinks. He had to have a ridge of fair length, but there were no rules about crowns, box, symmetry, width or anything else, and sometimes the hair on this ridge stood up at both ends. To our day standard – with detailed demands for the ridge, the bite, the color of the eyes, nose and coat, and the tail.
The article is asking are we overvaluing those compared to characteristics as stamina, speed, good senses, ample lung room and temperament? It is something to think about.
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