Dog Breeds 101: Rhodesian Ridgeback

Dog Breeds 101 - Rhodesian Ridgeback - WP
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The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also referred to as the African Lion Hound or Lion Dog. When Europeans first arrived in South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries, they brought European hunting dogs with them. They crossed these dogs with the tamed dogs of the Hottentot and Khoikhoi tribes. The result was the massive Rhodesian Ridgeback. [1]

This breed was not recognized by the American Kennel Club until 1955. Today, they excel in obedience competitions and shows.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are perhaps best recognized for the ridge of hair that runs along their backs in the opposite direction of the rest of their coat. This ridge should be symmetrical, clearly defined and begin at their shoulders. The Ridgeback’s color can fluctuate between light wheaten and red wheaten. Some white specks are permissible but generally considered undesirable.

This breed is often described as loyal, loving and intelligent. They tend to be aloof toward strangers and are protective of their families. However, they prefer to ignore strangers rather than challenge them directly.

This breed should be trained and socialized from an early age. Well-trained Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be great guard dogs; however, if these dogs go untrained for too long, they may become aggressive. Also, there have been many accounts of this dog becoming extremely stubborn. Due to their overwhelming intelligence, size and power, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not recommended for inexperienced or first time dog owners.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also noted for their gentle and quiet temperament. Young Ridgebacks are normally active and energetic but as they mature and grow older, they become quiet and rarely bark. In fact, they may be content just laying in front of the fireplace. Nonetheless, they become alert instantly whenever they hear something unusual. They also possess a passionate disposition that makes them trustworthy and reliable around children.

It is also worth noting that this breed can do well with other pets at home. They can tolerate other pets, especially when they were raised with them. However, they may become aggressive toward animals they do not know even if they were socialized or trained. Also, male Ridgebacks tend to be aggressive toward other male animals, especially when they are not neutered. If Rhodesian Ridgebacks are consistently left alone, they are likely to become destructive. These dogs require a lot of exercise and may actually become mentally unstable if they do not get it. [3]

Rhodesian Ridgebacks have an average lifespan of 10 to 12 years.


[1] Gerald Hausman and Loretta Hausman, The Mythology of Dogs: Canine Legend (Macmillan, 1997).

[2] Sue Fox, Rhodesian Ridgebacks (Barron’s Educational Series, 2003).

[3] Vince Stead, How to Train and Understand Your Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog and Puppy (vince stead, 2013).

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