Shelter Dog Meal Donation Count:

Learn More

Know the Signs: 5 Most Common Health Issues in Rhodesian Ridgebacks

Written by: Arlene Divina
Arlene Divina, one of the content writers at IHD, loves going on adventures with her adorable fur baby. She now creates informative content for pet parents. Read more
| Published on May 27, 2023

Rhodesian Ridgebacks, known for their muscular build, unique hair ridge, and protective yet gentle demeanor, make excellent companions. However, this breed can be prone to certain health conditions. By understanding these potential issues and knowing the warning signs, owners can ensure that their Ridgebacks enjoy a long, healthy life.

  1. Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a hereditary condition common in many large breed dogs, including Rhodesian Ridgebacks. It occurs when the hip joint fails to develop properly, leading to arthritis and potentially, lameness.

Signs of hip dysplasia include a bunny-hopping gait, reluctance to exercise, difficulty in getting up or climbing stairs, and lameness in the hind limbs. If you notice these symptoms, it’s important to visit your vet for a comprehensive examination.

  1. Dermoid Sinus

Dermoid sinus, a neural tube defect unique to this breed, is characterized by a tube-like structure that connects the skin’s surface to deeper tissues, potentially leading to infections and neurological issues.

The tell-tale sign is a small hole or dimple along the dog’s back, usually along the ridge. Other signs can include swelling, redness, pain along the spine or neurological symptoms like difficulty walking. If left untreated, serious complications can arise, so early detection and surgical removal are key.

  1. Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough hormones, is also seen in Rhodesian Ridgebacks. This can lead to various issues including lethargy, obesity, hair loss, and skin conditions.

Symptoms include unexplained weight gain, lethargy, hair loss, dry or dull coat, and recurrent skin infections. Your vet can diagnose this condition using a simple blood test, and it can be managed with daily medication.

  1. Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

DM is a progressive spinal cord disease that leads to weakness and eventually, paralysis of the hind limbs. It’s often seen in older Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Early signs include dragging of the hind feet, difficulty getting up, and wobbling when walking. As the disease progresses, the dog may have difficulty controlling its hind limbs and eventually may lose all mobility in the back end. While there’s currently no cure, physical therapy, and supportive care can help manage symptoms.

  1. Gastric Dilatation-Volvulus (GDV)

GDV, or bloat, is a serious condition in large, deep-chested dogs like Rhodesian Ridgebacks. It happens when the stomach fills with gas and possibly twists, causing discomfort and potentially life-threatening complications.

Signs of GDV include a distended or swollen abdomen, restlessness, attempts to vomit without bringing anything up, drooling, and signs of pain. This is an emergency that requires immediate veterinary intervention.


Being aware of these common health issues in Rhodesian Ridgebacks can help ensure that your furry friend lives a long, healthy life. Regular vet check-ups are essential for early detection and treatment. Furthermore, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and proper grooming can keep your Rhodesian Ridgeback in top form. Always consult with your vet if you notice any changes in your dog’s behavior or physical condition, as these could be signs of underlying health issues. With the right care and attention, your Rhodesian Ridgeback can continue to be a strong, loyal, and healthy companion.

NEXT UP: Since the pandemic, veterinarian bills have skyrocketed. This website lets you compare prices on all the pet insurance companies at once.

Recent Articles

Interested in learning even more about all things dogs? Get your paws on more great content from iHeartDogs!

Read the Blog