Rhodesian Ridgeback – From lion hunter to sports buddy

They used to defend the houses of their owners from wild animals, but today the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a popular pedigree dog with an athletic stature and outstanding character. The impressive four-legged friend, with the back crest, is a versatile tracker, rescue dog or guard dog as well as a loyal family companion.

History from Africa

The Rhodesian Ridgeback originally comes from the wilds of South Africa and Zimbabwe (formally known as Rhodesia). Their ancestors are the wild dogs that still live there; however, they were bred with English hunting dogs. The result was an impressive, muscular dog that was initially used to guard farms against big cats and to hunt game. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is characterized by a lot of courage and self-confidence, paired with friendly intelligence. They first came over to the United Kingdom in the 1920s and have remained part of the landscape ever since due to their incredible stature and loyalty, because of this the Rhodesian Ridgeback is the only dog breed from South Africa or Zimbabwe that has ever been internationally recognised since the ’20s.

Character of the Rhodesian Ridgeback

In short, you would have to describe them as dignified and intelligent. However they have a lot more to them, independent decision-making and problem-solving were fundamental for the hunting dog when lion hunting. The Rhodesian Ridgeback has its own head and is very assertive. If they have accepted their owner as a leader, they can be well educated with positive reinforcement. Once the relationship between you and the animal is established, it shows itself to be faithful and loyal. The Rhodesian Ridgeback benefits from the quick grasp and evaluation of its ancestors: it mostly assesses unknown situations correctly and instinctively reacts appropriately.

Raising and keeping the Rhodesian Ridgeback

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog for beginners! If you choose this breed, you should have experience in dog ownership and a confident demeanour. Also, you must not lose sight of the breed-typical hunting instinct of the Rhodesian Ridgeback. In order to get this under control, the dog needs an appropriate workload, space to run and a consistent upbringing. If ever in doubt, seek the advice of an experienced dog trainer as you do not want these marvellous dogs to overrun you. Due to the Rhodesian Ridgeback remaining a puppy until the age of three, if trained well and offered a variety of activities you will have a relaxed, balanced and loyal dog by your side. Due to their athletic nature, they are the perfect companion for a runner or cyclist as endurance and speed are their fortes. The ridgeback must never be kept in a kennel as this can agitate them a lot, and further to this a large garden is recommended. Be wary if you have small children as due to their size they can injure without meaning to, so be careful.

Care tips for the Rhodesian Ridgeback

The short coat of the Rhodesian Ridgeback is very easy to care for; however, the animals shed all year round, so brushing loose fur daily is advisable. Since the dog has little undercoat, it must not be allowed to get too cold, be especially careful in winter, by keeping them moving while outside.

Profile -

  • Breed: Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Origin: South Africa and Zimbabwe
  • Classification: Running and hunting dogs and related breeds
  • Size: Male 63-69cm shoulder height. Female 61-66cm shoulder height.
  • Weight: Male 36kg. Female 32kg (although it is not uncommon for ridgebacks to be significantly heavier even as much as 50kg
  • Anatomy: Muscular, deep chest, tail slightly curved
  • Eyes: Round and clear, should harmonise with the colour of the fur
  • Ears: High approach, medium size, close fitting
  • Fur and colour: Short haired; light or red wheat coloured, occasionally with a dark “mask”, small white marking aren’t uncommon
  • Particularities: Fur strips against the direction of the ridge on their back
  • Character: Friendly, intelligent, spirited, distinctive hunting instinct, reserved around strangers
  • Maintenance: Daily brushing with rubber harrow, sheds hair all year round