South African farmers bred the Rhodesian Ridgeback to be a hunting dog fit for hard work in a very warm climate. One characteristic of the breed is its short hair, a factor that causes the Rhodesian Ridgeback to shed very little, according to the American Kennel Club. If your Rhodesian Ridgeback is shedding, it may be a sign of poor health or a need to change your pet's grooming routine.
Not all shedding is a problem. While the Rhodesian Ridgeback's coat is short, the AKC acknowledges that the dog will still naturally shed. If your Rhodesian Ridgeback is shedding, you should attempt to assess the degree of shedding to determine if it is normal or excessive. If the dog's coat continues to look full and healthy, shedding only small amounts of hair, there is likely no cause for concern.
If your Rhodesian Ridgeback seems to be shedding excessively, the cause may be the dog's grooming. The AKC recommends weekly brushing. Consistent brushing will remove excess hair during the grooming session and should significantly cut down on the dog's additional shedding. Regular monthly or bimonthly baths will also help to reduce shedding.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to developing hypothyroidism. According to the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States, excessive hair loss is one symptom of hypothyroidism. Additional symptoms include skin discoloration over the areas missing hair and weight loss. Fortunately, once diagnosed, hypothyroidism is easily treated with medication that will restore the dog's coat. If your dog's shedding is accompanied by unexplained weight loss and skin color changes, you should take your dog to the vet to be tested for hypothyroidism.
In 2006, the National Rhodesian Ridgeback Council of Australia estimated that almost 5 percent of Rhodesian Ridgebacks suffer from allergic dermatitis. A wide range of allergies impact the breed, including food-related allergies, atopic dermatitis and an allergic reaction to flea bites. Just like people, dogs can be allergic to certain products, and contact with an allergen will cause the infected area to itch. The dog's natural response is to scratch and excessive scratching can lead to hair loss. Determining the particular allergen and distancing it from your dog will alleviate the negative response.