Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy and easy to keep, having fewer genetic issues than many purebred dogs. Still, they are genetically predisposed to some skin disorders, one of which is a genetic issue in the breed. Visit your veterinarian if you notice your pet has a skin problem.
A genetic issue in Rhodesian Ridgebacks, dermoid sinus is a small opening in the skin that connects to the spine. This condition is frequently found on the neck, but can also occur on the rump. If it occurs, dermoid sinus is present at birth, but occasionally goes unnoticed until the puppy is older. Rhodesian Ridgebacks found to have the problem are considered ineligible for breeding. If it is not infected, the sinus is a small, dark hole in the skin, sometimes described as looking like a single vampire bite mark. Untreated, the dermoid sinus often becomes infected, and then it appears as a small lump or abscess in the skin. The treatment is surgery to close the dermoid sinus.
Allergic dermatitis is the general term for skin problems caused by allergies. These are seen in all types of dogs, and are common in Rhodesian Ridgebacks as well. Food, contact and inhalant allergies, including sensitivities to plants, dander, pollen, dust mites and molds, can cause skin problems in dogs. The condition can range from mild to extreme, with most allergic dogs experiencing symptoms that make them uncomfortable, but that are not life-threatening. Take your buddy to his veterinarian to determine the cause of the allergy. Treatment generally includes avoiding the allergen, as well as the use of topical and oral steroids, antihistamines, fatty acid supplements and soothing lotions and shampoos.
Mast cell tumors
Mast cell tumors are frequently found in Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and they usually show up as skin cancer. Tumors on the skin often are first seen as small, pink bumps. The bumps may remain round and pink, or they may turn raw and red, like a sore. Mast cell tumors may appear in more than one place, and may swell if touched or rubbed. Take your Ridgeback to your veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. The most common treatment is removal. Drug therapy and radiation is sometimes also used, either in cases where surgery is not possible or in conjunction with surgery.
Lymphocytic thyroiditis, also called hypothyroidism, is not a skin disorder, but one of the most obvious symptoms is loss of fur and thickening or darkening of the skin. Hypothyroidism is not a breed-specific problem. It is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks the thyroid. Damage to the thyroid causes a hormonal change that in turn causes fur to thin and the skin to thicken, become flaky or greasy, and turn a darker color. Take your buddy to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Some Rhodesian Ridgebacks are genetically predisposed to hypothyroidism, and it should be considered as one possible cause of skin problems. Lymphocytic thyroiditis also weakens the immune system, making the dog more susceptible to skin infections.