The Rhodesian Ridgeback

Exercise Requirements  
Grooming Requirements  
Weight35-40 Kg (approx)
Life Span10-12 Years (approx)


The Rhodesian Ridgeback should represent a well balanced, strong, muscular, agile and active dog, symmetrical in outline and capable of great endurance with a fair amount of speed. The emphasis is on agility, elegance and soundness with no tendency towards massiveness. The peculiarity of the breed is the ridge on the back, which is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat.


Centuries ago, when the first white people arrived at South Africa, they found that the Hottentots at the Cape were using dogs of the Ridgeback type for hunting purposes. The peculiar ridge of hair, running parallel to the spine and in reverse to the rest of the coat, at once distinguished it from other breeds. During the nineteenth century big game hunting flourished in Southern Africa, particularly in the area north of the Limpopo River, later to become known as Rhodesia (after its founder Cecil John Rhodes). Hunters were quick to realise the value and importance of good hunting dogs. In choosing dogs to fill this role, it was natural that they turned to an indigenous breed - the Ridgeback - a dog which had for generations proved such a boon to the African Hottentot with his primitive weapons of the chase. The origin of the breed is not definitely known but the most generally accepted view seems to be that it is the result of crossing the Cuban Bloodhound with the Hottentot hunting dog, the latter supplying the characteristic ridge. From such a breeding one would expect just such characteristics as the Ridgeback so markedly shows - speed, power, courage, fidelity, and in addition, a remarkable skill in tackling wild animals. Unfortunately for the breed, the name Lion Dog became popular because several big game hunters found them by far the best for lion hunting, and this led many to assume that the dogs were the actual killers of lions, although no dog would have stood a chance in a fight with a lion. Ridgebacks would harass the lion by constant feint attacks until it was held in sheer bewilderment, giving the hunter a shot at close range. With the advent of long range rifles, hunters dispensed with the use of dogs so the Ridgeback has had to turn to its other vocation, that of guard dog - a duty that he performs equally well.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a delightful nature. He is a faithful one man or family dog and his friendship, once given, is for life. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is very affectionate and likes to lean on you, lie on your feet or sit on your lap if permitted. He is extremely loyal to those he loves, but distinctly offhand with strangers and quite disinterested in anyone outside his chosen circle. He is placid, easy going, putting up with endless torment from children, as well as being highly intelligent and quick to learn. He is happy to participate fully in family activities, but is equally content to laze around all day if there is nothing better to do. The Ridgeback is an excellent guard and his deep bark warns intruders to keep away from his property.

No single breed of dog ideally suits everyone and there are aspects of the Ridgeback character which may not appeal to some people. Most Ridgebacks are independent and stubborn and if you give them an order when they would prefer to be doing something else you will probably not get instant results. Servility plays no part in the temperament of this breed but if you want the rewarding companionship of a dog that has spirit and considers himself your equal rather than your slave you need look no further.

From Pauline Sadler, author of “The Rhodesian Ridgeback in Australia”

Care / Grooming

This is a fast growing dog that should not be overfed or over exercised as a puppy, as this puts too much stress on developing bones. While frequent grooming is not needed your dog will enjoy being brushed. Occasional washing will make them more pleasant around the house, although as a short haired breed they are naturally a very clean breed.

They also like a daily walk, and do better in homes where there is other canine companionship. Remember that this breed is part of the hound fraternity and likes to chase. Secure fencing and gates are highly recommended


The health of this relatively new breed is good, particularly when purchased from a reputable breeder- in which case health screening of the parents would have occurred. These breeders will ensure your puppy does not have a dermoid sinus (a thin tube usually found along the midline of the dog and going down through the tissue toward the spine- these can become infected.). They will also have screened the parents of your puppy for hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia- both only rarely seen in the breed.

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