Rhodesian Ridgeback

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Is the Rhodesian Ridgeback right for you?

Species group:

Other name(s): RR; African Lion Dog; African Lion Hound

The basics:
The Rhodesian Ridgeback was the classic multi-purpose hound of the European settlers in southern Africa. The dog needed to guard children, livestock, and property, as well as to assist in the pursuit, hunting, and retrieval of game. And they needed to do it all in a land of temperature extremes that hosted an abundance of insect pests. As a result, this breed has an impressive mix of talents, including the ability to hunt both by sight and by scent. Active, muscular, and confident, this dog could easily intimidate the inexperienced or fragile owner. This is a choice for assertive, athletic owners who know how to channel the so-called African Lion Dog's energy.

The name hints at its history. Developed in Rhodesia (now called Zimbabwe), the Ridgeback sports a distinct “comet” of reverse-growing hair down the center of the spine that came from an African dog breed of the Khoikhoi tribe. Impressive as it looks, the dog didn't actually hunt down lions, although Ridgeback packs kept them at bay while their people hunted.

Appearance / health:
The Ridgeback is balanced, longer than he is tall, yet symmetrical; strong with visible musculature and athletic. His most outstanding feature and that from which part of his name derives is the “comet” shaped ridge on his back which begins with two identical whorls of hair (also called “crowns”), which are located directly behind the shoulders and runs to a narrowing point between the end of the ribcage and the hipbones. The hair this ridge lies in the opposite direction to the rest of his coat. His chest, though deep, is not particularly wide. He is of obvious heavy bone structure; his tapering tail curves slightly upward and is fairly long.

His skull is flat and broad between the ears; eyes are alert, intelligent, round, set moderately well apart and should be colored to match his coat coloration; his muzzle is long and his jaw powerful; his nose should be similar to the eyes in keeping with the coat coloration and should be colored black, brown or liver; ears are medium-sized, set high with a wide base and taper to a rounded point. It is preferable that those with black noses have dark eyes and brown or livered color nosed Rhodesians should have amber eyes.

Grooming requirements are minimal for the Rhodesian. A good brushing with a firm-bristled brush once a week is sufficient as the breed is a light, but year-round, shedder.

Like any large and athletic breed, the Rhodesian Ridgeback needs to exercise regularly. The dog makes a perfect jogging partner as it loves to run and can go great distances without tiring.

Health issues among the Rhodesian Ridgeback include:

  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hip Dysplasia*
  • Elbow Dysplasia
  • Patellar Luxation
  • Dermoid Sinus (prevalent)

And, to a lesser extent:

  • Dermatitis
  • Cataracts
  • Cancer

Dermoid Sinus does not involve the sinuses in the nose, as one guess by the name. It is a tube-like growth that generally occurs along the line of the spine between the base of the skull and the start of the tail and is most easily and understandably described as a hollow tube-like growth beneath the skin which drains - thus the use of the word “sinus” in the name of the malady. The condition of Dermoid Sinus is present at birth and can be detected by a Veterinarian’s examination of the puppy along the midline of the puppy’s back. Failure to remove the growth will result in eventual abscess, causing extreme pain and even death. It is considered highly unethical for anyone to breed a Rhodesian that has had a Dermoid Sinus or even a history of Dermoid Sinus in its line. Be advised that some cases of Dermoid Sinus are inoperable and the puppy with the condition must be euthanized.

In considering the purchase of a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, it is advisable that one request full disclosure of the breeder’s stock, particularly that of medical history in the parent lines.

* It should be noted that these skeletal maladies occur with some lines of the Rhodesians and with less frequency than they occur in many other large breed dogs. The well-informed puppy purchaser will ask the breeder for OFA certifications in all cases.

Behavior / temperament:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an excellent family dog if properly trained and socialized from an early age. They are known for having a mind of their own; they are intelligent enough to easily out-think some owners. This is one of the breeds where extensive training and early socialization if imperative. Their training must be done with an eye toward not only the intelligence, but the potential strength, of the adult Rhodesian.

There is never a need to train the Rhodesian to be a guard dog; this is one of the main functions for which they were bred. Your focus on training should be one of establishing your position as Alpha and one who can set the limits and maintain them – always utilizing training methods that are consistent and unvaryingly uniform. Neither children nor adults should ever tease the Rhodesian; this will lead to later behavioral issues and, possibly, to later aggression.

The Rhodesian is never recommended to the novice owner or to someone who cannot take the firm hand this beautiful, intelligent breed requires. If you are one of those who enjoys treating your canine companion as another human being in the house or if your personality tends to run toward the more gentle, meek side, most would recommended you do not obtain a Rhodesian as the dog will likely become impossible for you to handle.

The Rhodesian responds best to training methods that are unfailingly consistent and uniform, but to rewards and praises that appeal to his sense of adventure. Try to train your Rhodesian by rote methods typically utilized in standard training classes and you will bore her beyond any interest in learning.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is rated high in intelligence, medium in obedience, and high in problem solving skills.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a barker, despite her ability to be alert at all times.


strong prey drive, selfconfident dog, Good watchdogs, fast learners, protection instinct


dominant dogs, head strong breed, domineering personality, food stealers, adult strangers.They


independent nature, deep bark, natural hunting instinct, minumum washing, high pain threshold

Helpful Rhodesian Ridgeback Review

Rhodesian Ridgeback

From brodywhisperer Jun 11 2015 12:16PM


Rhodesian Ridgeback Training Tip

Rhodesian Ridgeback

From 148 days ago

/ 5

From shelters/rescues

Nicholas aka Honey Bear


Rhodesian Ridgeback

Midlothian, VA


SP LillieBeth


Rhodesian Ridgeback

Whitesboro, TX




Rhodesian Ridgeback

Tampa, FL


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