Health Survey FAQ

Q. Why should I take the time to complete this survey?

A. The Rhodesian Ridgeback Comprehensive Health Survey is the best tool we have to determine what health problems and genetic conditions are affecting Rhodesian Ridgebacks today, and what their prevalence is.

RRCUS’s Health & Genetics committee relies on the survey to determine what research projects we should initiate and support based on their relevance to the breed.

Bottom line: If you do not report a problem, we don't know it's a problem. And without an accurate accounting of how widespread a particular condition is, we cannot push for research to help study and, hopefully, cure or prevent it.


Q. Are you just looking for “killer” diseases such as cancer, or only widespread ones, such as hypothyroidism?

A. The survey is designed to be as comprehensive as possible. We want to know about chronic problem, such as ear infections and skin allergies, as well as sudden or life-threatening conditions such as bloat or osteosarcoma. Nothing is too “rare” or too “unimportant” to be reported. Any and all health conditions that affect your dog’s quality of life, no matter how remotely -- we want to know about them.

Every time your dog visits the vet, ask yourself: Should I report this to the Rhodesian Ridgeback Comprehensive Health Survey? And when in doubt – report it.


Q. Do I have to be a RRCUS member in order to fill out a survey?

A. No. All Ridgeback owners and fanciers are encouraged to submit their dogs’ health information. The more information collected, the more complete picture of what Ridgeback health is today and in the future.

The only requirement is that the dog in question be a purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Q. Is the survey limited to only American-bred dogs?

A. No. Our breed is global, and so are our efforts to improve its health. All submissions, regardless of geography, are welcome.

Q. My dog is perfectly healthy. Do you want me to sign up for the survey?

A. Yes! The more survey profiles we receive of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, affected and non-affected, the more accurate the picture we get of the breed’s overall health.

Q. Can deceased dogs be entered in the survey?

A. Yes. As long as your dog alive on or born after January 1, 1995, it can be entered in the survey.

Q. What precautions have you taken to ensure that this survey is completely confidential?

A. When you take the Rhodesian Ridgeback Comprehensive Health Survey, you are redirected to a web site maintained by an independent agency, Elements Software Engineering (ESE). All health-survey data collected is stored there and is not accessible by any outside agency except ESE.


Q. So no one from RRCUS has any access to the raw data?

A. Correct. No one – not the Health & Genetics committee, not the Board of Directors, not the RRCUS web master – can gain access to the ESE database. The company’s principal, Larry Hopkins, does not own Ridgebacks and is not involved in the purebred fancy. He maintains similar confidential health-survey sites for two other breed clubs, the American Spaniel Club and the Leonberger Club of America.


Q. How does RRCUS obtain data from the Health Survey?

A. Before any data is sent to RRCUS for analysis, ESE strips out any and all personal information that would identify an individual owner or an individual dog. Specifically, the owner's name, address and e-mail address, as well as the name and registration numbers of dogs, are removed.

ESE will then give the anonymous data to Dr. Katrina Viviano, H&G Health Survey Liaison, who will interpret the data and provide summaries.

Q. So why does the survey need this information?

A. Personal contact information is collected to allow ESE to contact an owner should the need arise. Such need could include:

  • Correcting information at the owner's request.

  • Requesting follow-up information.

  • Changing ownership on a dog.

  • Changing a PIN if, in the estimation of ESE, the PIN chosen by the owner could be compromised.

Dog information is collected for the convenience of the owner only.


Q. How will filling out this survey help me with my own breeding program or maintenance of my individual dogs?

A. The information for the dogs you input can be printed out for your own records. It can also be changed as the dog ages and new health findings emerge. In essence, it offers an in-depth snapshot of each dog’s health history and status, valuable information for any breeder and owner that we often do not take the time to note as carefully as we should.


Q. Will this data be used to encourage participation in health-related research?

A. Yes, but only in a way that maintains the confidentiality that we consider crucial to the success of this survey. As RRCUS continues to pursue and fund research for specific diseases, survey respondents may receive correspondence alerting them to the research and inviting them to contribute. As with anything involving health information obtained through the survey, any such communication will come directly from ESE. Survey respondents are under no obligation to respond, thus maintaining their complete anonymity.

Q. Will I ever be contacted via email by ESE?

A. No. ESE will only request information from you using regular mail. Should you receive any e-mail or phone call purporting to deal with this survey, please give out NO personal information and report the incident immediately to:

Larry Hopkins
Elements Software Engineering
14202 N Park Road
Hurley, WI 54534
(715) 561-3816

Does it cost anything to participate?

There is no cost to participate. The project is supported entirely by the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States.


Q. What if I have additional questions or concerns?

A. Please contact Dr. Katrina Viviano, 466 Charles Lane, Madison, WI 53711, or email

Q. How do I take the survey?

A. Click here to go to the survey home page.

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