Monday, November 30, 2009

RE: Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks becoming too tall?.

Matthew has left a new comment on your post "Are Rhodesian Ridgebacks becoming too tall?":

     While it is true that dogs of every size, shape and variety were used by numerous white 19th and 20th century lion hunters in southern and eastern africa, Van Rooyen's dogs did eventually emerge into a *relatively* unique and uniform type. If you look at photos of the dogs he kept in his final years, you will see an assemblage of Ridgebacks that look incredibly similar to many of the Ridgebacks we see today.
     With regard to Barnes, he was true dog man and his dogs were the real deal. Barnes pack was largely responsible for keeping a large group of men in venison on the trail.
     As it relates to size, a reading of the written histories and photos from the 1910's to the 1930's reveals numerous complaints by the uninformed that the Rhodesian Lion dogs "were too small" for the liking of those who wanted large and/or fearsome dogs. Most notably, the first ever written description of the breed, the "farmer George" account written by a vet who had been observing the working Ridgeback for over 20 years, describes 60 lb males. Also notable, those whites in Mashonaland who were, as a group, the Ridgeback owners most actively engaged in lion hunting with the breed, tended to keep and prefer smaller Ridgebacks. In fact the minimum height was introduced into the early standard to end-run many of the men with working ridgebacks in the north preferred ridgebacks that trended towards 24" at the withers! Hard to imagine now.

           Interesting comments, Matthew.  I don't recall having heard that about Barnes.  In regard to the complaints about Ridgebacks being too small, that must be weighed against the fact that the "small" Ridgebacks were doing their job against lions.
Is there a tendency, say, walking a dog in a lonely place late at night, to wish he were just a little bit, or perhaps a lot, bigger?  That human fear or wish may have little to do with the dogs ability to do his job.  In fact, here in the U.S. we seem to be opting for greater size while at the same time breeding for more gentleness and softness as though the larger size, without anything to back it up, is going to scare away the bogeyman. 

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