Rhodesian Ridgebacks


Rhodesian Ridgebacks

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Breed Notes:

The Rhodesian Ridgeback was developed during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by the Boers (Dutch, German and Huguenot farmers) who migrated to South Africa and needed a serviceable hunting dog that could also protect their property and withstand the rigors of climate and terrain of the African Bush. The combination of dogs used include the Dane, Mastiff, Greyhound, Bloodhound and other breeds from Europe along with native African breeds. One such native breed was a hunting dog of the Hottentot tribe that had a ridge on its back formed by the hair growing forward (see description below). This created the characteristic of coat that gives this breed its name. During the nineteenth century, the Boers migrated northward to the region later known as Rhodesia. In the 1870s, two of the ridgebacked dogs were brought there thus giving the breed the other part of its name. It is also referred to as the African Lion Hound. The breed was registered with the American Kennel Club in 1950.
The Ridgeback is a clean dog that is easy to keep and train. He is never noisy or quarrelsome and has a strong desire to please his master. He has an aloof attitude around strangers but is a good family dog.
The Ridgeback is a strong, muscular, active dog. His head has a flat, broad skull with a long, deep, powerful muzzle. The jaws are level and strong. The eyes are moderately well apart, round and amber or brown. The ears are set high, of medium size with a wide base and tapering to a rounded point and carried close to the head. The nose color is black or brown based on eye color. The neck, shoulders and loin are strong and muscular, denoting speed. The chest is very deep. The back is straight. The legs are straight, strong and heavily boned. The feet are compact, round with well-arched toes. The tail tapers toward the end and carried at a slight upward curve. The coat is short and dense with the characteristic ridge where the hair grows in opposite direction from the coat along the backbone. Two crowns or swirls are formed at the start of the ridge just behind the shoulder. Color of coat is from light to red wheaten with small amounts of white being permissible. Average size is between 24 and 26 inches in height at the withers and 65 to 75 pounds in weight.


RhoderigdeB@aol.com of Long Island, NY writes:

A friend as close as any person.
My Ridgeback is my first dog. I was becoming discouraged about my training ability as he wasn't responding to my commands. I did not heed the warnings that a Ridgeback was not the ideal breed for a first time dog owner. I was interested in the breed that everyone lauded as a superior companion. After a short period of time with outside help, and some patience, he is a very well-behaved dog; eager to please and always ready to have fun. I have learned much from him and now I have a trusted, close friend. He has been to many public events with me and always gets plenty of positive attention. He seems to know this and responds in a happy, modest, and dignified way. He has as many human traits as he does canine. I truly believe that my relationship with him makes other breed owners envious.


daleb1@yahoo.com of Texas writes:

Loyal and intelligent.
Wonderful dogs with a sense of humor. They enjoy companionship and interaction. They don't much like the cold but are quite comfortable in the warmer weather. Their short coat is easy to keep; their nails tend to grow quite long. They don't bark at just everything. They are definitely a family member. They tend to be majestic. These are not trick performers. They are loving friends.


stanlini@aol.com of Las Vegas, NV writes:

Four stars because nothing is perfect.
I had never seen a Ridgeback until I checked out an ad for puppies in the newspaper. I was impressed by the physical features of the mother. She was light wheaten, friendly and about 80 pounds. I decided to get a light wheaten bitch. The only health problem she ever had was annual allergies.
I met my wife and we had a son. Once my dog got used to my wife she became a trusted protector and companion. I never worried about my family when, as a firefighter, I was at work for 24 hours at a time. When my son became scared of monsters I put the dog in his room to sleep. He never brought up monsters again! Her terrific personality and easygoing nature were balanced by the fact that she was very protective and capable.


dgfurman@satx.rr.com of Texas writes:

My little fur baby!
I've had a Ridgeback for two years now, since she was a puppy. She is the sweetest, most lovable animal I have ever known. She does demand a lot of attention and affection, and will chew on furniture occasionally if she feels bored. She is constantly by my side, and follows me everywhere. She is truly like a little child, always needing/wanting attention/affection/playtime, etc. This is NOT a dog that you can leave outdoors all day, or leave alone for too long a time. This is a dog that wants to be an integral part of the family, and will be loyal and loving if you treat it so. They are also foodaholics, and will eat more than necessary. You have to watch how much the dog eats, and make sure that nothing edible is too close to the edge of the counter. If you want a dog that will be a family member, than this is the dog for you. If you want a dog to just have a dog, don't get a Ridgeback. Ridgebacks, like babies, need a lot of love and attention. If you can give it that, it gives so much more in return!


Name withheld by request of U.S. writes:

Gentle, lovable, fun, intelligent friends.
In the past twenty years I have had the pleasure of living with four Ridgebacks. I would not say "own" because they would not allow that. They are "human" in a dog's body. It's more like they own you. If you love them they love you back, if you don't they will simply ignore you. They have a good sense of people and a sense of humor, and really like children even if not raised around them. They are very protective of their family and yard. If you do have children, make sure anyone around them does not let their Ridgeback brother or sister think they are hurting them. I have never in twenty years had any of mine bite anyone, but I have seen them knock someone to the ground and hold them there. I had a three-year-old Ridgeback before my daughter was born, and when I had the baby she became the Ridgeback's baby. That dog would stay by her side day and night and sleep in front of her door, later in the bed. Very smart dogs, but not smart like doing tricks, they are above that. If you tell a Ridgeback, "Give me your paw," they look at you like you are nuts. They really don't do tricks, so if you are looking for some kind of circus act you better join yourself. A Ridgeback is good for your soul. They are understanding and caring. They know when you are down and can make you laugh. I have always found a deeper connection with this breed; they are not like typical dogs because they don't think they are dogs. They don't bark unless there is something to bark at, so always check. Quiet and peaceful in the house (after you get past the terrible two's). They need a lot of exercise before that. Only get this breed if you want a family member not if you're just looking for a "dog." They want to be members of the family not out in the yard alone.


Name withheld by request of Orlando, FL writes on 9/3/01:

Exceptional breed.
We have had a Rhodesian Ridgeback for 1 year and I can tell you that they are the most affectionate and intelligent dogs that I have ever been around. Our dog was easy to train and has a very consistent and pleasent attitude with our two boys. She is energetic, but not demanding. They need, however, to be right in the action at all times. They are really not interested in being left out of the family for any length of time. Our dog is never happier than when she is laying down across our feet. They are wonderful watch dogs, but please look elsewhere if you are interested in a watch dog that can
be left outside for long periods of time alone. They will be heartbroken if you do that to them. They can become aggressive if they are treated at all harshly. There is no need to treat them with a heavy hand because they are so smart, they will pick up on what you want them to do quite easily. They are loyal, sweet and playful. Fantastic dogs for an active, dog-loving family!


Name withheld by request of Los Angeles, CA writes on 10/17/00:

A great dog, but not for everyone.
I got our Rhodesian 5 years ago when he was 2 months old. He was homeless and wandering around Hollywood. When the owners could not be found, I decided to keep him. I was not familiar with the breed, but have I learned a lot since then! We have "trained" each other and I am happy to report that he is a healthy, happy <somewhat spoiled, active member of my family, which consists of myself, an American Staffordshire Terrier and a Labrador. RR's need lots of space and lots of attention. Having pets requires making a commitment to them, but in this case, I can tell you it is well worth it. RR's are affectionate, loyal, protective, and intelligent - an asset to anyone's life.


rdgdog@aol.com of Texas writes on 4/5/00:

Not for everyone.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are my specialty, I have lived with them my entire life from childhood through adulthood. I have worked with rescuing these dogs and done the ensuing rehabilitation and rehoming of those rescued dogs. This is a fine and noble dog, one with a deeply rooted sense of loyalty and intense intelligence. They are very people oriented and highly sensitive to negative treatment and training methods, It's easy to ruin a fine Ridgeback if you don't know how to handle or work with this breed. They are independent thinkers and were bred originally to hunt and live in packs with their humans and other dogs. When left alone out in the back yard, they can and will become destructive, sullen and distrustful of humans in general. They excel in family life and when given a chance to interact with others in the home. With proper socialization and training, they make fine family pets, are good with children and will protect your home and family of their own accord without specialized "protection" training. If you are not prepared to have this large dog as an inside dog or cannot spend large amounts of time with your Ridgeback, then you should consider a different breed, one less in need of company and stimulus.


ctyline@injersey.com of Eatontown, NJ writes on 2/13/00:

Good dog for the right owner.
I have been breeding and showing Rhodesian Ridgebacks for 15 years. Of course, I think they're great. However, they are not for everyone. A Ridgeback is from the Hound Group. If you know anything about Hounds, they are stubborn. A Ridgeback needs an owner that is firm, but loving and patient. They will not always do what you want them to do. And as in raising children, the parents/puppy owners must be consistent. Ridgebacks were bred to guard the family farms in Africa and to hunt. Yes, they are great family dogs, but they are only as good as their owner. Some of the traits that can be undesirable are being food hounds. They love food so much that they will "counter surf", so you have to put things away. Also, they were bred to hunt, so they will chase a deer, rabbit, squirrel and their instint is so strong that they may not listen to you. Ridgebacks are very strong and can pull you on the leash. As a breeder, I like all the potential puppy homes to know what they are in for because I don't want to have to rescue the puppy when it is a year old and out of control. Some people should not have a Ridgeback and that is why breeder's may seem difficult because we have the breeds best interest at heart!


flynnm1@ozemail.com.au from Australia writes on 11/13/99:

Sooky,obedient,very friendly, strong and playful.
I have owned Max for 2 years and he has proved himself to be a sooky, obedient, strong, playful and very friendly dog. For example, when my mum goes out in the morning when Max is in bed he will stay in his bed and pretend that he is unable to get up - so he sit there wagging his tail flat out and just looks at her as if he is straining to get up but he can't untill she said walkies Max then he will get straight up and is then very responsive your every command.When Max meets someone new he wags his tail so much he makes the rest of his bottom half wag as well! It is quite funny to watch.Sometimes when I take Max for a walk and he can see another dog he drags me right to that other dog. Max often has rat attacks while I'm playing with him it is very funny to watch. Over all Max is a very friendly and loving dog who must get the most attention of all the dogs in the world.


captal@mediaone.net of Ft. Myers, FL writes on 10/28/99:

Super intelligent strong breed.
These dogs love attention and rough play. I believe this breed needs lots of room outdoors. I have noticed this dog to be a good water dog. I am a shrimper in the state of Florida and this dog loves the water - but beware saltwater should be rinsed from your dog as it can cause skin proplems. This breed is extremly loyal if treated well. It is also a very strong animal and energenic dog. People with limited time or space might want to consider a gentler or smaller breed. This breed can be demanding but learn fast, real fast so controlling this breed is relativly easy. Be kind - do not hit this type of dog, as tell they seem to learn quicker with positive reassurance.


jessandsue@mindspring.com of St. Pete Beach, FL writes on 10/18/99:

Man's best friend!
In reviewing the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, we found that it was the perfect dog for our active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors and is right at home running on the beach and playing in the water. Being a short-haired breed, Ridgebacks are a good choice for our Florida climate. She doesn't shed and is a very clean dog. We have found our Ridgeback to be extremely intelligent, loyal, loving, and great with children. We couldn't ask for a better dog ... she truly is our best friend!


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