You see lots of Ridgeback pictures on this and other websites, but have you ever seen a Ridgeback without a ridge? They aren't very common. In fact, many years ago, when a puppy was born without a ridge it was typically euthanized (culled), because this lack of ridge was, for obvious reasons, an undesirable trait for the breed when it was being developed. It was also thought at the time that from a genetic standpoint the ridge brought with it more active hunting instincts since this was the original reason for breeding to the native South African ridged dogs when Europeans began developing the breed.
In any case, this unfortunate practice of culling the "ridgeless" puppies is still in use by some, but more and more breeders are finding these dogs are truly Ridgebacks in all but one cosmetic sense, and make just as loving a companion as any ridged version of this breed.
There is much discussion on the role "ridgelessness" plays in the genetic process that goes on every time puppies are born. Reputable breeders invariably insist that "Ridgeless" puppies be neutered or spayed when they get to a suitable age, because this IS an anomaly to the breed's standard (the presence of a ridge is a primary requirement for conformation and performance events), but this requirement is also true of ridged puppies which are sold as non-show companions. This requirement is only in the best interests of the breed and the puppy you take home.
The presence of a ridge, however, is not a normal attribute for most breeds, and the fact it is on our dogs shows a very distinctive genetic history.
Ridgelessness is the only disqualification for the Breed, so the Ridgeless RRs cannot compete in AKC Conformation, or regular Lure Coursing..BUT they CAN compete and earn AKC titles in Obedience, Rally, Agility, Tracking, Straight Line Lure Coursing and singles in lure coursing They can also earn AKC CAT & CGC titles (Coursing Ability Test, and Canine Good Citizenship test.) They can also earn titles in UKC Conformation.
At Red Earth, all of our dogs are registered with the American Kennel Club regardless of ridge/no ridge, show or pet. All of our puppies destined for the show ring go out on a Full Registration, and all of our 'pet quality/ridgeless puppies are given Limited Registrations.
IN THE MEANTIME, enjoy the pics, below, of some wonderful Ridgebacks who don't have ridges, through no fault of their own. :)
Candy, the cowherding Ridgeback! Many Ridgebacks have a strong herding instinct, and Candy proves this. She loves to be in the pastures and fields around her ranch home, riding with her owners and gathering in cattle when needed. She also shamelessly sneaks snacks of highly nutritious cattle pellets.