Friendly and protective dogs of considerable intelligence, Rhodesian ridgebacks are fabulous companions and pets. But these powerful dogs require a significant amount of exercise and don’t fare well when left on their own. They are excellent watchdogs which won’t behave aggressively to strangers and are notable for the hallmark ridge along their backs.
Which breed group is the Rhodesian Ridgeback in?
Breed group: Hound
Tibetan terrier breed history
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Europeans travelled to South Africa and settled there. They took a variety of dogs with them from their native Holland and Germany including Great Danes, mastiffs and bloodhounds which were crossed with the native Hottentot. The resulting offspring represented the beginning of the Rhodesian ridgeback breed.
The ridgeback was bred to be a sturdy and courageous hunter which would protect its owner in the dangerous environment of the African plains. Legend has it that a missionary loaned his dogs to a hunter in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and the hunter was so enamoured with them that he bred his own pack. Ridgebacks were efficient hunters of lions and their reputation quickly spread across the globe.
Rhodesian Ridgeback breed characteristics
It’s the distinctive ridge along the full length of the back which distinguishes this breed. Powerful and robust, the ridgeback is a large dog with a broad head. The wheaten coat is dense and sleek with a natural sheen and can be light or dark. Boasting a long muzzle, deep chest, round eyes and an intelligent expression, the ridgeback is instantly recognisable.
Fabulous watchdogs but not prone to barking, ridgebacks are loyal to their owners and gentle in nature. They are relatively easy to train but can be alittle stubborn and require a copious amount of exercise together with constant stimulation.
- Lifespan: 9-15 years
- Height: up to 69cm
- Weight: up to 36kg
- Large dogs
- Ridge along the back
- Sleek and dense coat
- Light or dark wheaten in colour
- Long muzzles
- Round eyes
- Good watchdogs
- Need exercise and stimulation
- Easily bored
Health issues with Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Ridgebacks are robust animals with longer lifespans than you would expect for larger dogs. However, certain health conditions are associated with this breed:
- Hip dysplasia
- Elbow dysplasia
- Canine epilepsy
- Dermoid Sinus
- Juvenile Myclonic Epilepsy
- Congenital deafness
- Bloat/gastric torsion
- Degenerative Myelopathy
What is the Rhodesian Ridgeback bred for?
The ridgeback was originally bred to hunt lions and to protect their owners in the African bush. But their loyalty and friendliness to humans also made them great companions and they are now cherished as wonderful pets.
What sort of owners does the Rhodesian Ridgeback suit?
As ridgebacks require a great deal of exercise and have a very low boredom threshold, they are best suited to owners who can devote a generous amount of time to them and who lead active lives. These dogs don’t take well to being left home alone and can be territorial. Ridgeback puppies are often extremely boisterous and so are not suited to families with small children. They can be quite strong-willed which means they are not the best dogs for inexperienced owners.
The strong prey drive of the Rhodesian ridgeback can prove to be problematic in households where there are cats and other small pets. These dogs respond well to training featuring plenty of positive reinforcement but will need socialising with dogs and people from an early age if they are to develop balanced personalities.