Deafness Project

Researchers at the University of California at Davis have achieved linkage in their search for the gene that causes deafness in the Rhodesian Ridgeback -- that is, they have found the general area where the gene is located, and now are seeking to identify the gene itself.

To find the genetic marker for deafness, the researchers need DNA swabs from families that include deaf and hearing siblings, parents, and ideally as many grandparents as possible. They also welcome DNA from individual dogs that are deaf, or related to deaf dogs, regardless of their hearing status.

For more information, contact Susan Ralston at As with all RRCUS Health & Genetics projects, complete confidentiality is assured.

To learn more about deafness in the Rhodesian Ridgeback, click here.

Deafness in Rhodesian Ridgebacks

In 2005, the RRCUS Health & Genetics committee asked Ridgebackers to contact us if they owned or were aware of deaf Rhodesian Ridgebacks. The response was wonderful, and thanks to the efforts of some dedicated breeders and owners, we were able to send blood samples to Dr. Paula Henthorn at the University of Pennsylvania to see if the Rhodesian Ridgeback shares the same genetic marker for deafness as Pointers.

Rhodesian Ridgeback deafness is similar to Pointer deafness in that:

a. It is apparently non-syndromic and is particularly not associated with coat color.

b. Pups can hear at 8 weeks

c. The deafness is bilateral (that is, both ears are affected and the dog is totally deaf)

d. Pups become deaf early in life

e. There is an autosomal recessive inheritance (well established in Pointers and consistent with available pedigree information in Rhodesian Ridgebacks).

After screening the samples submitted, Dr. Henthorn determined that the Rhodesian Ridgeback does not appear to have the same gene defect as deaf Pointer dogs.

Undaunted, the RRCUS Health & Genetics committee decided to initiate a hunt for the Ridgeback deafness gene. We turned to Mark Neff at the University of California at Davis, who agreed to help find the genetic mutation. To that end, Mark and his UC Davis colleagues are gathering cheek-swab DNA on deaf Ridgebacks and their hearing siblings, parents and grandparents.

If you have a deaf Ridgeback, or a dog that is closely related to one, or are aware of any deaf Rhodesian Ridgebacks, please contact Susan Ralston at

For more information on Deafness in Ridgebacks, please click here.

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