Did you know?
In general Ridgebacks pursue prey by sight, and if the prey is not in sight, Ridgebacks track by scent.
This has led to a debate over whether the Ridgeback is a sight hound or a scent hound.
The dog has an enviable mind; it remembers the nice things in life and quickly blots out the nasty.” – Barbara Woodhouse, Irish author and dog trainer
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a unique dog. He is the only breed to hail from South Africa. His ancestors came from Europe with the early pioneers of the Cape Colony of southern Africa. Needing a good guard dog, these early settlers crossed their dogs with the semi-domesticated, ridged hunting dogs of the Khoikhoi people.
Cornelius van Rooyen, a big-game hunter, developed the Rhodesian Ridgeback to hunt lions in the late 1800s.
Typically working in pairs, the dogs would harass and goad a lion to keep it off balance until hunters arrived with their rifles.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is one of only three breeds to have a ridge of hair along his backbone from shoulder to hip that grows in the opposite direction to the rest of his coat. (The other two come from Vietnam and Thailand.)
He takes his name from this distinctive feature and the country of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe).
Photos displayed courtesy of Brendon and Lisa Conley, FoxTrot Reg’d, Ontario
The Rhodesian Ridgeback stands up to 27 inches (69 cm) at the shoulder and has a short, sleek light wheaten to red wheaten coloured coat that requires minimal grooming. This is a powerful and muscular dog with great endurance tenacity, and speed. His incredible eyesight is matched only by his incredible nose! Both are used to great effect when he is on the hunt.
An adult male weighs 75 pounds (34 kg), the female slightly less.
As you might expect from a dog bred to hunt lions, this is a super watch and guard dog. He is alert, bold, loyal, and fearless.
Like most hounds, he is more aloof than other dogs, inclined to ignore, rather than challenge, a stranger. The Ridgeback is strong-willed, intelligent, and typically rambunctious and clumsy, particularly in his puppy and young adult years. Once he matures, he is calm and quiet around the house. As a large, powerful animal with a mind of his own, he may not be the best choice for inexperienced dog owners.
However, he also makes a great family pet and companion as he bonds strongly with his family. His owner should be a strong leader who will be able to control a large, independent, active dog.
Smart, and responsive, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very trainable. However, like many of the hounds, he is an independent thinker and can be stubborn! Training should therefore begin early and be firm and consistent.
Discipline should be administered by a known and trusted leader who will be fair and respect the animal’s sensitive side.
Francis R. Barnes, who wrote the first AKC standard in 1922, stated that “rough treatment … should never be administered to these dogs, especially when they are young. They go to pieces with handling of that kind.” Puppies should be socialized to other family pets.
As a stalker of big game, this breed is used to being active and requires daily vigorous exercise. Surprisingly, he loves to swim!
A rural environment is best, and a fenced yard is mandatory.