Sign up to be on our mailing list....
Welcome to TerraCotta Kennels...
.......established in 1982. We are located in northwest Pennsylvania centrally between Cleveland, OH, Erie, PA and Pittsburgh, PA. Breeding, raising, training and showing AKC Rhodesian Ridgebacks is one of our passions. I am a member in good standing of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS) which is our national breed club. If you have not done so already, please read everything you can on their site. It is full of useful information about our breed: www.rrcus.org/. Correct temperament and conformation, beauty, health and longevity are all concerns when we plan a breeding. We are dedicated to producing quality dogs and finding quality homes for the puppies we sell. All of our breeding stock gets health tested for at least hips, elbows, eyes and thyroid. If you think you are interested in owning a Ridgeback, please take the time to browse through our website. Drop us an email or give us a call if you have any questions and we will try to help you make an intelligent decision about whether or not this breed is for you.
PART 1: So you (think you) want a ridgeback?
Some (not so) random musings about things to think about BEFORE you get a puppy .... I will do part two, including things to consider when selecting a breeder at a later date.
Apart from the fact that they are short coated larger dogs with a cool feature running down their back (note: approximately 5% of RRs are ridgeless), how much do you really know about the breed? Please take your time and LEARN about the breed (beyond its physical attributes) BEFORE you decide you want an RR.
Did you know that RRs were bred to work (in a pack) independently of man? Working independently of man has resulted in a breed that is an independent thinker that is programmed to achieve its goals, not yours. Do you know why you should care about this trivia? You should care because it affects how you train your dog and should mitigate your expectations and understanding about the breed. If you put dog breed personality on a circular scale, if you think of where you would put breeds like Golden Retrievers or German Shepherd dogs (or any other breed that was designed to work closely with man), find the point on the opposite side of the scale (diametrically opposed) and that it where the RR would be found. When you are working with/training RRs there has to be something “in it” for them or they will simply shut down ... this is one of the reasons that punishment /negative training does not work well for this breed.
RRs are master manipulators (it goes back to the concept of them pleasing themselves), be it about food (more on that below), getting on the furniture, getting their toenails done (oh the drama) or simply walking nicely on lead. Put the time in and work with your dog .... there is no shortcut with this breed. This is NOT a breed that you bring home and forget ... they are NOT a short haired Golden retriever that you can bring home, do very little and still end up with a nice social family pet. This breed requires LIFELONG work and socialization. Ignore your RR at your own peril as you may come home one day to a house that is destroyed or (even worse), a dog that has become fearful and phobic of things it does not know - this includes having their toenails done!!!!!!!
Sadly in ~ 25 years of ridgeback rescue, I have seen too many ridgebacks that were inadequately trained and socialized that became fear biters. Here is the deal with fear biters, once a RR has figured out that it can stop whatever it doesnt like or make the person/animal that it doesnt like go away by putting its mouth on someone or something, it WILL do it again. Trust me when I tell you that there are few things scarier than a fear aggressive ridgeback wanting to stop something it doesnt like ... remember my comment about the breed wanting to please itself, not you.
RRs are a very physical breed and are nasty little vampires as baby puppies that will bite any and everything that comes close to their mouths ... while most puppies (any breed) will do some biting, RR puppies are biters on steroids. This is the #1 complaint of all new puppy owners. They WILL bite you and your children ... they will also body slam you and your family - especially young children who run and scream around the puppy. This is why many RR experienced owners and breeders will caution against getting a puppy when you have toddlers and younger children in the home. With time and consistent training, this too will pass ..... BUT .... you have to live through /survive the first few months of a RR puppy life.
RRs (most) are prey driven hounds. Apart from being an interesting fact, do you know why you should care? First ... while there are going to be people who tell you that they have dogs in an unfenced backyard or use e-fencing and that they take their dogs on wonderful off leash walks, the reality is that they are the exception, not the rule. The vast majority of RRs will not respect an unfenced yard and/or an e-fence and will chase any and everything that runs. The thrill of the chase applies equally to off leash walks - most RRs should NOT be trusted off leash in an area that is not completely secure. This is also not a breed that should be walked by children .... while I occasionally see pictures of children on the end of a leash of a RR, the breed is too strong and the prey drive is too high in most dogs to make this safe ... I dont care how well leash trained your dog is.
Food ... the master manipulator can go one of two ways: you have have a “I am starving” RR that will eat until it explodes or the I dont want that food, give me something else picky eater. RRs are supposed to be lean athletic hounds - they are not supposed to have the outline of a lab. There are waaaaaay too many people that have obese RRs that are in denial.
Hopefully these musings will help set your expectations about the breed ... there is one thing that I didnt mention, to lovers of the breed, RRs are like potato chips or peanuts, one is never enough!!!
We are not a huge kennel. For many people, the term "kennel" brings to mind rows and rows of chain link dog runs filled with dogs. In reality, many excellent breeders' kennels consist of a brood bitch or two and maybe a retired, older dog, all living comfortably in the home. This is TerraCotta Kennels. At present we are producing between one and three litters of pups per year. All of our Ridgebacks are house dogs, sharing and protecting our home.
AKC Breeder of Merit.....
Miscellaneous Photo Gallery
AKC Breed Standard.....
The Ridgeback represents a strong, muscular and active hound, symmetrical and balanced in outline. A mature Ridgeback is a handsome, upstanding and athletic dog, capable of great endurance with a fair (good) amount of speed. Of even, dignified temperament, the Ridgeback is devoted and affectionate to his master, reserved with strangers. The peculiarity of this breed is the ridge on the back. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed.
Size, Proportion, Substance
A mature Ridgeback should be symmetrical in outline, slightly longer than tall but well balanced. Dogs--25 to 27 inches in height; Bitches--24 to 26 inches in height. Desirable weight: Dogs--85 pounds; Bitches--70 pounds.
Should be of fair length, the skull flat and rather broad between the ears and should be free from wrinkles when in repose. The stop should be reasonably well defined. Eyes--should be moderately well apart and should be round, bright and sparkling with intelligent expression, their color harmonizing with the color of the dog. Ears--should be set rather high, of medium size, rather wide at the base and tapering to a rounded point. They should be carried close to the head. Muzzle--should be long, deep and powerful. The lips clean, closely fitting the jaws. Clear faced or masked dogs are equally correct and neither is preferred. A clear face with black or brown/liver pigmentation only on nose, lips, and around the eyes, or a masked face with black or brown/liver pigmentation is correct as long as the color is not continuing with a solid mask over the eyes. A darker ear often accompanies the darker masked dog. Nose--should be black, brown or liver, in keeping with the color of the dog. No other colored nose is permissible. A black nose should be accompanied by dark eyes, a brown or liver nose with amber eyes. Bite--jaws level and strong with well-developed teeth, especially the canines or holders. Scissors bite preferred.
Neck, Topline, Body
The neck should be fairly long. It should be strong, free from throatiness and in balance with the dog. The chest should not be too wide, but very deep and capacious, ribs moderately well sprung, never rounded like barrel hoops (which would indicate want of speed). The back is powerful and firm with strong loins which are muscular and slightly arched. The tail should be strong at the insertion and generally tapering towards the end, free from coarseness. It should not be inserted too high or too low and should be carried with a slight curve upwards, never curled or gay.
The shoulders should be sloping, clean and muscular, denoting speed. Elbows close to the body. The forelegs should be perfectly straight, strong and heavy in bone. The feet should be compact with well-arched toes, round, tough, elastic pads, protected by hair between the toes and pads. Dewclaws may be removed.
In the hind legs the muscles should be clean, well defined and hocks well down. Feet as in front
Should be short and dense, sleek and glossy in appearance but neither woolly nor silky.
Light wheaten to red wheaten. A little white on the chest and toes permissible but excessive white there, on the belly or above the toes is undesirable. (see muzzle)
The hallmark of this breed is the ridge on the back which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge must be regarded as the characteristic feature of the breed. The ridge should be clearly defined, tapering and symmetrical. It should start immediately behind the shoulders and continue to a point between the prominence of the hips and should contain two identical crowns (whorls) directly opposite each other. The lower edge of the crowns (whorls) should not extend further down the ridge than one third of the ridge. Disqualification: Ridgelessness. Serious Fault: One crown (whorl) or more than two crowns (whorls).
At the trot, the back is held level and the stride is efficient, long, free and unrestricted. Reach and drive expressing a perfect balance between power and elegance. At the chase, the Ridgeback demonstrates great coursing ability and endurance.
Dignified and even tempered. Reserved with strangers.
Scale of Points
General appearance, size, symmetry and balance 15
Legs and feet 15
Neck and shoulders 10
Body, back, chest and loin 10
Coat and color 3
Effective March 31, 2010