Rhodesian Ridgeback

Grooming Advice

Known as the Lion Dog or African Lion Hound, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a combination of the early southern African pioneers’ dogs and those of the Hottentots. He is known for his characteristic peculiarity of a clearly defined ridge of hair on the back, growing forwards.

Bred and prized as a strong, endurance dog, able to withstand extreme temperatures and long spans without water, this wonderfully, strong and balanced breed was able to work to flush partridge, bring down game, bail up a lion till the hunter arrived, guard the farm and still be a loyal companion and loving to children.

He is an easy dog to keep without the noise and bickering of some other breeds. Easy to train and eager to please and a good nature to go with it.

His coat standard calls for short dense hair that is sleek and glossy and never woolly nor silky. The requisite ridge of hair growing forwards from just behind the shoulders, to point between hips with two identical whorls of hair is a given. The US standard calls for disqualification without this. Colours may be a light wheaten to red wheaten with a touch of white on chest and between toes permitted.

Now to achieve this perfect texture sounds simple enough, yet often exhibitors ignore the clear wording of sleek and glossy, and try to condition this coat with regular conditioners which only soften the coat and change the texture.

You don’t have a lot of coat to work with as some of the “hairdo” dogs, but what you have must be perfect. It should gleam with great health and vigour.

Firstly, use a good shine shampoo such as Plush Puppy All Purpose Shampoo which has pure henna extracts and won’t build up in the coat as some of the older rather “deadly to the coat” hennas. The extracts are water soluble and never build up to brittleness and always leave the coat in pliable and good condition with superb sheen. Dilute 5:1 i.e. 5 parts water to one part shampoo. This allows even distribution throughout the coat without overdoing one area to the detriment of another.

Once you have rinsed the shampoo, then you need to hydrate the coat without softening it. Use Plush Puppy Seabreeze Oil a fantastic water soluble oil that never looks greasy or sticky. This gives incredible shine and support to the hair against harsh conditions or regular bathing which one needs to do when exhibiting every week. It allows you to bath every week. Dilute 1 dspn to 4 litres/1 gal warm water in a bucket or hydrobath and sponge liberally all over with the whole of the mix. Leave in and do not rinse. The more you use this wonderful oil, the better the skin and coat will be. It is sensational and a product none of us can do without. The Seabreeze Oil is all Calendula Oil and Evening Primrose Oils etc. Nothing compares!

Now the controversial piece of this article is that you should blow dry this coat, albeit with a cool turbo blasting dryer. I do this with much experience knowing that it allows me to remove all dead hair better than any grooming mitt, brush or whatever. I get that dead hair out, and regrowing faster and better than most! You thus never experience those ugly periods of shedding excessively with what looks like moth eaten holes throughout the coat. Get it out and get it growing and fast! It works and the difference in the coats must be seen to be believed. I don’t waste time doing this for nothing!

You show the coat with this oil and water mix in it. It looks professional, well cared for and gives you an edge to compete with those hairdo, sculpted dogs that look so glamorous. Your coats will gleam and stand out with great lustre and health.

This is the main basis of your grooming routine. Do it every week on every dog and the coats will be there for you when you need them. There are no short cuts to a great coat - they are not made overnight. It is a discipline to do this, but do it you must if you wish to maximise your wins.

Between shows, slather a workable slurry of Plush Puppy Coat Rescue and water all over the coat and leave in for as long as you can. If the dogs are outdoors, then leave it in for days on end. We do. If the dogs are house dogs, then leave on for as long as you can and rinse off. This has everything known to man in the formula and is all naturally and organically sourced. Not sure which of the ingredients gives it the extra oopmh factor, but not brave enough to remove any of them just to find out! So we put the lot in the bottle and it works wonderfully.

You can also spray the dog with a light mist of Plush Puppy Sunshade during the harsh, summer months or, by depressing the nozzle to a different level, you get a small lotion amount and wipe that through the coat to protect. You do have an Olympic athlete here and great care has to be taken at all times of this fellow’s coat!

I do like the shine that all this gives to the Rhodesian’s hair. The more shine you get, the better the ridge stands out as shine allows the colour to reflect beautifully. Dull, poor coat will absorb light and not reflect.

Give the coat a light mist of Plush Puppy Shine & Comb a few minutes before entering the show ring and wipe down with your hand. See the shine!

You can slightly deepen and bring up the red colour of your Rhodesian too by switching to the Plush Puppy Whitening Shampoo which is a purple shampoo and does not lighten but adds purple tones to the coat which offsets any yellow or fading in the coat. It is an old hairdressing colourists trick. Doesn’t alter the colour but cosmetically enhances and deepens the lost cool tones in the hair. Use at a dilution rate of 5:1 i.e. 5 parts water to one part shampoo. Also good for any white bits on the chest too. Try mixing this shampoo half and half with your All Purpose Shampoo to get the shine as well.

So, you have done your homework, the coat looks a million dollars and the dog has terrific muscle tone giving off the impression of being upstanding and athletic and capable of great endurance.

What’s not to like, watching this canine “spirit of Africa” stride efficiently around the ring with long and free stride? He is a true champion this breed. He works, guards and is a faithful friend as well. I love watching the power and endurance and can only imagine how majestic he would look giving chase, demonstrating that great coursing ability. Now that would be something to see!

- Cheryl Le Court