Camelot Rhodesian Ridgebacks

GCHB Camelot's Godfather (Brando), Showing in Hound Group, Palm Springs KC, January 2023

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Rhodesian Ridgeback Conformation Standings, 1956-2023

Rhodesian Ridgeback Stud Book, 2000-2020

RRCUS Register of Merit

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My name is Clayton Heathcock and I operate Camelot Rhodesian Ridgebacks in the San Francisco Bay Area near the town of Martinez.

I began showing and breeding Rhodesian Ridgebacks in 1988 when I and my former wife Cheri Hadley bought a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy from Deer Ridge Kennels in Aptos California. This pretty puppy grew up to be a stunning adult and when whe was about a year old we took the advice of Morganna's breeder and entered her in a dog show. Morganna was Winner's Bitch in her first show and quickly earned her championship in only six shows over a two-month period. Her full name was Ch Deer Ridge Morganna and she was one of two Camelot foundation bitches.

In 1990, Morganna was bred to Ch Calico Ridge The Warlord ROM (Tamerlane). This breeding produced a very nice litter of puppies, of which three went on to AKC Championships: Am/SA/Zim Ch Camelot's Technical Knockout ROM (Bruiser), Ch Camelot Lightnin' (Boz), and Ch Camelot's Bonzai Bomber (Bomber).

As the first Camelot "Special" Bruiser was nationally ranked in the top three in 1992-94 and in October of 1995, he went to spend 18 months for breeding and showing with Janet Wang, a leading Rhodesian Ridgeback breeder in Capetown, South Africa. While in Africa, Bruiser attained South African and Zimbabwean Championships. He returned to Camelot in April, 1997, and passed away peacefully in his sleep on August 15, 2001. To read a brief story about Bruiser's sojourn in Africa, click here.

Bruiser was an outstanding sire, in the United States but also in in South Africa and Europe. Several of his descendents have excelled in the show ring, and many others have excelled as good citizens of various families around the world. Bruiser's son Hunter was the #1-ranked Rhodesian Ridgeback in 1996, earning more breed points (1346) than any Ridgeback up until that time except Ch Gitano of Raintree. His grandsons Mojave and Ruger ended 2005 in an unprecedented exact tie as the #1- and #2-ranked Ridgebacks with 2,025 breed points each--both won Ridgeback specialty shows and both won multiple all-breed Bests in Show. Several other of his Camelot descendants have won all-breed Bests in Show; Marley, Roko, Molly, Scarlet.

The second Camelot foundation bitch was Murphy, Ch Kwetu's Brownian Motion, purchased from Barbara Sawyer-Brown in 1993, specifically for breeding to Bruiser. She was finally bred to Bruiser in 1996, while Bruiser was living with Janet Wang in Capetown. The breeding was carried out with frozen semen, collected for this purpose shortly before Bruiser left for South Africa in 1995. There were four puppies in the Bruiser-Murphy litter and one was called Marley and named Camelot's Follow The Sun.

In 2001 Marley won Best of Opposite Sex at the 70th RRCUS National Specialty and two days later took Best in Show at the Inland Empire Kennel Club all-breed show. Marley was only the 8th Rhodesian Ridgeback female to win Best in Show in an AKC all-breed show. Click here to see photos from the Specialty and Inland Empire shows. When Marley passed away on April 22, 2006 she left an awesome legacy for the breed. Three of her sons and daughters won National Specialty shows (in Australia, the United States and Canada). Her sons Mojave and Ruger were among the top three or four Rhodesian Ridgeback show dogs for several years. Mojave won the RRCUS National Specialty in 2005 and Ruger won the Canadian National Specialty in 2006. Marley's daughter Leelu became a Grand Champion in Australia and won the Australian National Specialty in 2002.

More recently, two Marley granddaughters, BIS MBISS GCh Camelot's Red Hot Tamale (Molly) and GCh Camelot's Salsa Roja (Salsa), have carried on our show tradition. Molly was ranked among the top three Rhodesian Ridgeback show dogs for three years, earned Award of Merit at the 2012 and 2013 RRCUS National Specialties, and became the 11th Ridgeback female to win Best in Show in February of 2013. Molly is Gold level Grand Champion with 498 GCH points. Her sister Salsa was a Bronze Level Grand Champion with 136 GCH points and had numerous high placements in specialty shows.

In 2007 we imported a Leelu daughter from long-time breeder-friend Lisa Barrenger of Isilwane Kennels in Bungendore Australia. Reflecting her Aussie origins, this girl is called Sheila and named Isilwane Back to Camelot. Sheila was imported to be coowned with Louise Vaangsgaard and her former husband Lars Porsmose. Together, Clayton and Louise managed Sheila's show career and were co-breeders of three litters of puppies. Six of Sheila's puppies earned AKC championships and four are AKC Grand Champions, one at the Platinum level and one at the Bronze level. Sheila's daughter GCHB Camelot's Hazelnut Macchiato, Hazel, ROM, was Winner's Bitch at the 2014 RRCUS National Specialty and BISS at the 2015 Orange Coast Rhodesian Ridgeback Club Specialty. After they joined forces in 2013, Clayton and Louise were co-breeders of six additional Camelot litters.

Six of the 10 puppies in Hazel's first litter became AKC Champions, and four are Grand Champions. Two, Leo and Galli, are Regional Specialty winners.

For more information about Rhodesian Ridgebacks, visit the home page of RRCUS, the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States.

You might also want to read an essay entitled "The Care and Loving of Your New Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppy".

Download health record forms which other breeders are welcome to use as is or to adapt for their own purpose. We also include here an example of a completed health form for a puppy from one of our litters.

If you are considering buying a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, please read our essay entitled "Things to Know Before You Buy a Rhodesian Ridgeback". We strongly encourage you to deal with a reputable breeder, preferably one who belongs to a strong breed club such as the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States (RRCUS). The RRCUS Breeder's Directory will help you find a breeder in your geographic area. You might also consider adopting an older Ridgeback who needs a second home through Northern California Ridgeback Rescue. Just before Thanksgiving, 1999, we fostered Nana, a part-Ridgeback, part-Chesapeake Bay Retriever for Rescue; as it turned out, Nana insinuated herself into our hearts and found a permanent place in our pack. Click here to read Nana's story.

Camelot in the news, archive:

  • "Professor and his dogs have the right chemistry", 2003 article in the University of California weekly magazine, The Berkeleyan.
  • Ad for a young Mojave in a 2003 issue of Dog News.
  • Cover story, June 2005 issue of The Ridgeback Register; Mojave wins RRCUS National Specialty.
  • "Sibling Revelry", a special four-page pullout section in the February 2006 issue of The Ridgeback Register; Mojave and Ruger end 2005 in an exact tie for #1.

Introducing younger show dogs

Camelot's Goddess of Love in Avalon (Freya)
Camelot's Little Spitfire by Manzanita (Harley)

In Memoriam

Ch Camelot's Darlin' Companion ROM (1992-1998)
Ch Camelot's Centennial Mt Asset (1995-1998)
Am/Can Ch Calico Ridge Sir Lancelot (1988-1999)
Ch Deer Ridge Morganna ROM (1987-2000)
AM/SA/ZIM Ch Camelot's Technical Knockout, ROM (1990-2001)
Ch Camelot's Bonzai Bomber (1990-2001)
Ch Kwetu's Brownian Motion ROM (1993-2003)
Ch Camelot Lightnin' (1990-2004)
Ch Centennial Mt Sun Hunter (1994-2004)
DC Camelot's Call the Wind Mariah (1996-2004)
Ch Camelot Dot Com (1996-2005)
Ch Jovanna of Camelot (1992-2006)
DC Dakarai of Camelot, SC (1998-2006)
BIS Ch Camelot's Follow The Sun, ROM (1996-2006)
Nana (?? - 2007)
Ch Camelot's Centennial Mt Maestro, JC CGC (1997-2007)
Ch Camelot's Bida Brass, JC CGC (1998-2008)
Tazzerazz of Camelot (1998-2009)
Ch Camelot's Centennial Mt Tango (1997-2009)
Ch Camelot's Mistress of the Hunt ROM (1998-2010)
Am/Ireland Ch Camelot's Ragnar of Lyonveldt (2002-2011)
Ch Camelot's Centennial Mt Sunrise, SC (1997-2011)
Au BISS GCh Camelot's The Fifth Element (1999-2012)
Ch Camelot's Galahad of Avalon, ROM (2000-2013)
Ch Camelot's Irish Rose (2001-2013)
Ch Camelot's Heard It Through The Grapevine (2002-2014)
MBIS DC BIF Can Ch BISS Camelot's Promise to Bakari, FC MC ROM (2002-2014)
Ch Camelot's Dane of Iniquity (2004-2014)
Ch Camelot's Some Like It Hot (2003-2016)
GChB Camelot's Salsa Roja (2010-2019)
Ch Isilwane Back to Camelot (2007-2019) 
Ch Camelot's Paint the Town Red (2010-2021)
Camelot's Khaleesi of Sierra Ridge (2017-2021) 
BIS MBISS GCHG Camelot's Red Hot Tamale (2010-2022)

The Rainbow Bridge, a poem about the loss of a treasured pet.

Research News

The genetics of the ridge were worked out by Swedish researchers, working with a group of molecular biologists at the Broad Institute, associated with MIT. Read a commentary on this research work, which also casts light on the risk of dermoid sinus.

The publication on the ridge genetics had catalyzed quite a lot of interest in the Ridgeback community and, unfortunately, has also been featured in a highly biased television program that was aired in 2008 by the BBC, in which Ridgeback breeders were castigated for deliberately selecting for a serious health defect in breeding for the ridge. In response to this allegation, The Kennel Club (the governing body for purebred dog breeding in the UK) issued various proposals to change the wording of the UK Standard for the Rhodesian Ridgeback. The issue was discussed at the 2008 Rhodesian Ridgeback World Congress. I attended that Congress and wrote an article about the discussion, which was published in the January 2009 issue of The Ridgeback, the magazine of the Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States. To read this article, as well as a statement that was issued by the authors of the original study, click here. Although I was assured by Producer/Director Jemima Harrison that there was no animal rights agenda behind the film, it is nevertheless my opinion that the film plays into the hysteria that this community expouses.

In 2015 a DNA test that can distinguish between the RR and Rr genotypes, both of which are phenotypically ridged, was commercially introduced. It has recently been found that about 4% of dogs that are phenotypically ridgeless may nevertheless be genotypically ridged.

Researchers at the University of Missouri are marketing a DNA marker for degenerative myelopathy, a condition that afflicts many breeds of dog. For an announcement of this important development, click here. The science behind this new marker has been published in the Proceedings of the National Acadamey of Sciences (PNAS). To read the abstract of this article, click here. You might also want to read the full article.

It has become clear that there is a rare but increasingly common disease in Ridgebacks in which some puppies are born with apparently normal hearing but become deaf in one or both ears between the ages of about four and 18 months. This condition, called early-onset adult deafness (EOAD) appears to follow simple recessive genetics. You can read an early report on the state of this research here. Recently the researchers have identified a few genetic mutations that correlate strongly with the disease. Although it is not yet established which of these mutations actually causes the disease, it is now possible to test Ridgebacks to determine whether or not they are carriers of this recessive genetic mutation. To read a report and learn how to test a dog, visit this site.

In the last two years it has become clear that there is a very widespread, probably genetic disesase in Rhodesian Ridgebacks called "Inherited Ventricular Arrhythmia". This is a condition wherein juvenile Ridgebacks, if tested by an ambulatory electrocardiagram method called a Holter test, display a kind of irregular heartbeat called ventricular arrhythmia. This arrhythmia can apparently, rarely progress to a dangerous degree that can be fatal. There is a DNA marker test that is said to have predictive value for dogs that are prone to this condition. The statistical evidence to date (October 2017) indicates that about 85% of Ridgebacks test positive for this marker and that about one-third of the dogs who test positive actually do show elevated numbers of premature ventricular contractions when administered a 24-hour ambulatory electrocardiagram test called a Holter Monitor test at 9-15 months of age. This condition appears to be transitory, as the great majority of juvenile who display the elevated PVCs outgrow the condition by the age of 2-3 years of age. However, very occasionally something happens such that the elevated PVCs transition to a degree that the heart stops working, resulting in sudden death. This is a subject that is under active investigation and further information may be found at the RR IVA Facebook page or in an essay on the subject, published in the Spring 2019 issue of the RRCUS club magazine, The Ridgeback.

See the Camelot holiday cards over the years.

Camelot dogs are fed Honest Kitchen dog food. We use FORCE.

Click on any picture for more information.
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Last revised June 12, 2023