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Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback
Photo of Phoenix with thanks to Colin and Sarah Manning.

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Group Hounds (KC)

Origin / History The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a breed native to Southern Africa. It is best known for the line of fur along its back that runs opposite from the rest of the coat, creating a natural ridge. The breed is known to local tribes as the African Lion Dog because of its ability to harass lions in the wild, giving its master time to prepare for the kill. It is this ability that made it one of the most popular hunting companions in and out of its home country.

The breed most likely arose from an interbreeding between other native African ridgebacks, with some mastiff, deerhound, and Khoikhoi blood in the mix. The dogs were brought to Africa by the Boer settlers, so the breeding may have happened around the 17th century. The first breed standards were written in 1922, but it was only admitted to the American Kennel Club in 1959.

Appearance The Ridgeback has a short, dense coat with a notable sheen, except where the hair forms its distinctive ridge. The ridge should be well-defined, symmetrical, and tapered towards the rear. The head is long and punctuated by a robust muzzle. Its large, round eyes give it a curious, intelligent expression, and the ears are set high with a rounded point.

Colours Acceptable coat colors are light to red wheaten. There may be white spots on the toes and chest, but they should not be so big as to distract from the ridge.

Temperament The Rhodesian Ridgeback is brave and fierce in the wild, but calm and affectionate around its family. Some dogs don’t take very well to rough handling by children; other simply like to be alone and may snap at people who disturb them. This can be corrected by socializing them at an early age. Once accustomed to their human family, Ridgebacks can be very loving and make excellent companions.

Height and Weight 61-68.5 cm in height and 29-34 Kg in weight. Males are larger than females and at the top end of the size ranges.

Common Health Problems As with most hunting dogs, Ridgebacks are a tough breed and can ward off most common diseases. However, because of their size, they are prone to hip dysplasia and other joint problems. Cysts and dermoid sinuses have also been reported in recent years.

Living Conditions Rhodesian Ridgebacks can get used to apartment life, although they will thrive best in a large house with at least a small yard. Indoors, they need a lot of space to stretch out and walk. They can be allowed to sleep outdoors provided they have proper shelter. Owners living in apartments or small spaces should take them out regularly; otherwise they will become overactive indoors.

Exercise Requirements Ridgebacks are very energetic and need regular active exercise. They don’t like being idle; a bored Ridgeback can get restless and become destructive indoors. They should be taken on long brisk walks every day and allowed to run off the leash once in a while, preferably in a fenced yard, as they can wander off to follow interesting scents. They also have remarkable stamina and make excellent running companions.

Training Requirements Ridgebacks call for thorough training in obedience and socialization. Training should start early, when the dog is still curious and open to new ideas. Otherwise, they can grow up stubborn and independent, and may be very snappish around strangers. They respond best to fair and consistent training; harsh methods will make them fearful and even aggressive.

Life Expectancy Ridgebacks live an average of 10 to 12 years.

Grooming The Ridgeback’s short hair needs very little grooming. Weekly brushing with a bristle brush usually does the trick, except during shedding season, in which case brushing should be every few days. Baths should be given only when necessary; use a gentle or dry shampoo to maintain the coat’s natural sheen.

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More Rhodesian Ridgeback Information: Check out our Rhodesian Ridgeback Clubs and links to more informative websites dedicated to the breed.

Submit your Rhodesian Ridgeback pictures Send us any pics of your Rhodesian Ridgeback , let us know there name and age and any other details. We'll add to this page. Contact us

Phoenix the Rhodesian Ridgeback
Front view of Rhodesian Ridgeback
Front view.
Phoenix in full flight
Phoenix in full flight!
Photos of Phoenix with thanks to the owners, Colin and Sarah Manning.
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Rhodesian Ridgeback
Photos of with thanks to Leah and Brad,



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