Rhodesian Ridgeback

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64-70 lbs
24-26"
South Africa
African Lion Hound

When the Dutch immigrants in Africa needed a hunting dog more suited to the extreme climates of the area, they interbred their imported European dogs with a local tribal dog. What they produced was a reddish-brown dog with a ridge of fur that ran along the spine who was adept at hunting large game and protecting the family and home. The Rhodesian Ridgeback was used for lion hunting, but its loyal and affectionate characteristics soon made it an attractive family dog, allowing its popularity to spread to other countries. Today, while still prized for its keen sight and scent hunting abilities, the Rhodesian is also known as an easy to maintain, even tempered, and active dog who can excel at shows, protection, and playtimes with its favorite people.

Purpose
large game hunting, guarding
Date of Origin
1800s
Ancestry
african tribal dog, dane, mastiff, bloodhound, pointer, greyhound, terrier

Rhodesian Ridgeback Health

Average Size
Height: 25-27 inches Weight: 79-85 lbs
Height: 24-26 inches Weight: 64-70 lbs
Major Concerns
  • Dermoid Sinus
  • Hip And Elbow Dysplasia
  • Bloat
Minor Concerns
  • Entropion
  • Deafness
  • Cataracts
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Degenerative Myelopathy
Occasional Tests
  • Hip
  • Hearing
  • Breeder Check For Dermoid Sinus
  • Skeletal
  • Thyroid Tests
  • X-Rays
  • Eye Examination

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed History

When the Dutch Boers settled in South Africa throughout the 16th to 18th centuries, they brought with them European dog breeds, such as Great Danes, Mastiffs, Bloodhounds, Pointers, Greyhounds, Terriers, and other breeds. By the 18th century, the Boers realized that their hunting and guarding dogs were ill suited for the two temperature extremes found in this new climate. They needed a dog who could perform well in these conditions, and so they bred their imported dogs with a breed of dog used by the nearby Hottentots or Khoikhoi tribes. This reddish-brown dog had a characteristic ridge of fur along the spine. It is believed that this breed had been used for a long time in that area, and may even have had its jackal-like ancestors painted onto the walls of ancient caves, perhaps by the San peoples. The new breed was short-haired and displayed the characteristic ridge of the tribal dog. They were good at sight and scent hunting, and were then used as protectors and hunters. In the 1800s, the Dutch moved north to escape British rule, taking this new breed with them. They settled in Zimbabwe, then known as Rhodesia, and used the dogs to hunt lions. They were then known as African lion hounds, or just lion dogs. Many types of the breed had emerged by this point, and a meeting of owners in Rhodesia in the 1920s put together a breed standard, and named the breed Rhodesian Ridgebacks. These dogs were imported to England in the 1930s, and then to America shortly after. By the 1950s, the breed had gained in popularity in both countries, and the American Kennel Club admitted it into the registry in 1955. One of the most popular breeds today, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is a courageous hunter, a family protector, and a friend.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Appearance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a powerful dog whose body is elegantly symmetrical and balanced. The breed’s most distinguishing feature is a ridge of hair that grows along the spine from the shoulders to the hipbones in the reverse direction from the rest of the coat. The back is firm and is supported by clean and muscular legs that lead to compact paws with well-arched toes. The neck is long, and the head is of fair length, with a flat skull. Expressive round eyes in brown or amber sparkle, while the medium sized ears are wide at the base and taper at the point, and are set high on the head. The muzzle is long and encloses level jaws that have a scissors bite. The tail is carried slightly curved up. The coat is made for hot climates, and consists of short, dense hair that is smooth and glossy in appearance. Colors range from a red to tan wheaten, with white markings sometimes appearing on the chest and toes.

Appearance of rhodesian-ridgeback
Eye Color Possibilities
Brown
Amber
Nose Color Possibilities
Black
Brown
Coat Color Possibilities
Fawn
Red
Coat Length
Short Medium Long
Coat Density
Sparse Normal Dense
Coat Texture
Straight Wiry Wavy Curly Corded

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Maintenance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback requires little in the way of grooming. Brushing once to twice weekly for ten minutes with a firm bristle brush will keep this dog looking great. Using a shedding tool can cut down on the hair around the house during those times of the year when this dog sheds. An occasional bath should be given when needed. This breed does have fast growing nails which should be regularly trimmed to prevent splitting and cracking. Teeth should be routinely cleaned. Keep the hanging ears of this dog clean and dry to prevent infections. This is a high energy breed that needs daily mental and physical exercise, or else it can become frustrated and may engage in destructive behaviors. The Ridgeback’s limitless energy can be worked out through daily runs, hikes, or swims, and he can excel at dog sports such as lure coursing. Keep this dog leashed on walks and fenced in at home, as the prey drive is high in the breed. The Rhodesian does best in warmer climates whether indoors or out, and in the country where there’s plenty of space to roam. Though they make wonderful family dogs, the exercise requirements may be too much for first time dog owners. 

Brushes for Rhodesian Ridgeback
Slicker Brush
Deshedder
Nail Clipper
Brushing Frequency
Daily Weekly Monthly

Rhodesian Ridgeback Temperament

This is a powerful, dignified, and even tempered dog. The Rhodesian is loyal and affectionate with his family, and his courageous nature makes him a wonderful guard dog. He is reserved and suspicious of strangers, and though he can bark, is usually quiet, preferring to place his muscled body in front of his human family before he snarls, growls, or attacks. His sweet and gentle disposition allows him to enjoy children, but his power and size may be too much for smaller ones. Though many Ridgebacks can learn to modulate their powerful frame, parents should supervise. He can be either accepting of other dogs in the house, or territorial. With cats, he may see them as prey. Proper and early socialization is needed to ensure a peaceful community of animals, though the Rhodesian may still view strange cats as prey even if he accepts the household felines. This is an intelligent, but stubborn dog, who is easy to train so long as training begins early on. Since the Ridgeback is already innately a guard dog, pass on this type of training. Instead, obedience training through positive and consistent methods is not only the most effective, but is recommended. Without any training, this dog can become domineering and mischievous. The athletic and strong Rhodesian needs lots of exercise. Keep him occupied with daily runs, walks, or games. They do well as hunters, show dogs, competitors in dog sports and trials, and of course, as guardians of the family.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Activity Requirements


Activity Level
Low Medium High
Rec. Walk Mileage Per Week
10 miles
Minutes of Activity Per Day
60 minutes

Rhodesian Ridgeback Food Consumption

Cups Per Day
2.8 cups
Daily Cost
$1.5 - $1.9
Monthly Cost
$39 - $52

Rhodesian Ridgeback Height & Weight

6 Months
Height: 20 inches Weight: 46 lbs
Height: 19 inches Weight: 43 lbs
12 Months
Height: 23 inches Weight: 62 lbs
Height: 21 inches Weight: 57 lbs
18 Months
Height: 26 inches Weight: 80 lbs
Height: 25 inches Weight: 67 lbs

Top Rhodesian Ridgeback Breeders

Check out who made our list for the most reputable Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders of 2018.
County Line Ridgebacks & Beagles
Eatontown, New Jersey
Bold Move
Grand Junction, Michigan
Adili Ridgebacks
Paris, Kentucky
A Plus Ridgeback Hounds LLC
Bruce Crossing, Michigan
Suwedi Ridgebacks
Van Alstyne, Texas
Zuka Zama Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Millerton, Pennsylvania
Southridge Ridgebacks
Clarksville, Tennessee
Cavari Ridgebacks
Millington, Michigan
Andyboy Ridgebacks
Mount Juliet, Tennessee
Terra Christa Farm
Oxford, Florida

Rhodesian Ridgeback Owner Experiences

2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Explore the woods
Run
Walk
Eating Snacks
Fetch
I know that Ridgebacks are great dogs. My Ridgeback client however is not great. He only stayed my client for a short amount of time as he was very aggressive. He didn’t want anyone coming in his home. He hated getting his leash on. This was totally the owners fault though. The owner would put a cone on him when his walker came so it wasn’t possible for the dog to bite his walker. You can’t let one bad apple spoil the whole batch though. I’ve met many Ridgebacks outside of work that were lovely. They’re not typically the ones to run up and say hi. But they will tolerate a few pets before running off to mind their own business. Plus they’re so gorgeous it’s fun to admire
1 month, 4 weeks ago
2 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
Tug-of-war
Playing
Fetch
The dog refused to walk, and instead wanted to play tug agressively with his leash. He was also went crazy around other dogs. We spent an hour and maybe walked less that a mile because he was simply not interested in walking. Putting a stick in his mouth helped some. It was clear he wanted to run free and play instead of being on a leash
1 month, 3 weeks ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Jumping
Sniffing
Running
Walking a young Rhodesian with little training is a little like training a young stallion. They grow very quickly in size and strength -perhaps outgrowing the rate at which their owners can train them. Being that they are so large, getting excited on a walk can cause difficulty and danger if they take control. For that reason, it is important to use a firm, strong voice when giving commands. A short lead is also helpful so that you can leverage your weight against their strength if they pull or dart at something; with a longer lead, they are likely going to take the reigns. Unfortunately, my experience matches that of other walkers in that I have only worked with pretty wild, untrained ridgebacks.
1 month, 3 weeks ago
1 Year
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sniffing
Walking
I have not had much experience with these breed and have not heard too much about it either. It was a completely new experience when I walked Harry the Rhodesian Ridgeback for the first time. He was a young boy, about a year old but already the size of a miniature pony!! This was a shock as I walked in the owner's home and did not know what to expect. Because of Harry's age, he did not exhibit breed specific traits/quirks. He was a little bit shy when meeting me but not in an aggressive way. He was a sweet boy who did seem happy to go for a walk and knew to wait while I put his leash on. That is a testament to the owners' training. One thing that they did wrong that I would advise against for all large breed owners is to get a sturdier fabric leash and collar. Do not get a chain or leather leash/collar because this will make it extremely difficult to control the dog if it starts getting excited and starts to pull and run!! Get a gentle leader or even a harness to prevent tracheal collapse from constant tugging with the collar. That being said, Harry was generally pleasant to manage, except when he saw a squirrel or cat (but most dogs have a prey drive and thus will want to chase the small animals). Also I must note what a beautiful breed rhodesians are! Harry seemed to be purebred and had a gorgeous chestnut coat, with the distinctive ridge running down his back. These dogs do need a LOT of exercise because of their large size, and also a LOT of training because of their large size. You will not be able to control them physically if they are badly trained, unless you are of a larger stature! Having the dog obey verbal commands is much better than struggling to physically control them. Another important thing to note is they could easily be prone towards aggression if not socialized properly, so with a dog this size it is crucial to take care of that. Overall, they seem like intelligent dogs that stay loyal to their families, obey commands well when trained, have a decent amount of energy, reserved nature, posh appearance, beautiful coats, and good health. They are best suited for homes with yards, DEFINITELY would not do well in tiny NYC apartments!!
1 month, 3 weeks ago
6 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Sniffing
Walk
Get massages
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very dignified dogs, they move with such grace and all the pictures I've snapped of them make them look like royalty! They are pretty friendly and open to meeting new people but they also like to have things there way. The Rhodesian Ridgeback that I walked was for the most part agreeable, but there were certain areas he did not like--such as walking underneath noisy bridges, and he was very firm about not letting me lead him that way. He also decided when the walk was over and tugged me back towards his front door. He was very sweet and happy though. His energy was very even and refined and it was a lot of fun to get to know him.
1 month, 3 weeks ago
4 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Running
Wandering
Facial kisses
The Ridgeback Max was another new experience for me. He was minorly suspicious when I first arrived, yet he did not bark or jump at me at all. He simply waited for me to pull out some treats and sit on the floor. I placed one between us and waited for him to get the idea and then realize I had another in my hand. After that it was straight to face licking and got excited for the leash. From there it was all running and exploring the neighborhood. He really did not sit at one spot for too long, and he responded well to verbal queues. Definitely displayed some prey drive when a cat came in his sight and I took a bit to get him back to the running. I got some great pictures of him once I got him sit down at a place where I could keep him more at eye level. Even as an apartment dog, he had great manners and was very excited to be on a good run.
1 month, 3 weeks ago
9 Years
People
Health
Grooming
Friendliness
Energy
Trainability
Pastimes
Play
Catch treats
Walk
The little rhodesian ridgeback that I walked was a mix and much smaller than the common ridgeback. He had a pointy face, short reddish fur, and the distinct ridge that the breed is named after. He was a fantastic dog. He had been well trained to respect the leash and was a very good listener. As I learned from the owner, he had a disease that required a great deal of attention toward what he ate, how much stimulus he could receive, and what sort of interactions were good for him. If he got too riled up or frightened by something, it could cause some sort of complication for him. Because of these instructions we tended to veer away from any main streets or subway lines, nevertheless, there was little ability to keep away from the banging of shutting store gates, honking cars, sirens, and other common and noisy city sounds. Although he never got too overwhelmed, it was very clear that at the sound of it, he was not able to focus or relax as well as he had at the beginning of the walk. When we were able to avoid any big sounds, he was a really fantastic boy to walk with a great personality.
1 month, 3 weeks ago
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