The Rhodesian Ridgeback is easy to spot among a canine crowd: He’s the one with the tiny Mohawk running down his spine. Expressive eyes reflect the sensitive spirit of this large, intelligent dog who loves to run and play. He’s not a barker, but a Ridgie will protect his family.
Derived from Africa, the Rhodesian Ridgeback was bred to guard and protect children and family when parents were away. Designed to hunt lions and retrieve needed objects, the breed does well hunting with humans when on horseback. Doing well in African climates, the breed was brought to America in 1950. With high endurance and the ability to outlast humans, this dog is a strong, smart and loyal breed.
As a pup, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is active and exuberant, but he matures into a dog with moderate exercise needs. Give him a vigorous walk or game of fetch a couple of times a day, plus a chance to run in a safely fenced area a couple of times a week, and he’ll be satisfied — at least in terms of physical exercise. This intelligent breed also needs mental stimulation: a bored Rhodesian Ridgeback is a destructive Rhodesian Ridgeback.
- The Rhodesian Ridgeback is tolerant of kids, but can be too rambunctious for toddlers.
- Because of their size, intelligence, and power, Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t recommended for first-time or timid owners.
- If a Rhodesian Ridgeback is raised with other pets, he’ll be accepting of them. However, he can still be aggressive toward strange animals outside the family, even if he’s well socialized and trained. Males can be aggressive toward other males, especially if they’re not neutered.
- If bored, the Rhodesian Ridgeback can become very destructive.
- The Rhodesian Ridgeback needs a high fence to keep him from escaping and roaming. An underground electronic fence won’t contain him.
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks shed little, and you can keep them clean with a weekly brushing and a wipedown with a damp cloth. They also need regular nail trims and tooth brushing.
- Training can be difficult if you don’t start at a very young age. Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be stubborn and strong willed, but if you’re consistent, firm, and fair, you can train your Ridgeback to a high level.
- The young Rhodesian Ridgeback is energetic and active, but with maturity and training, he generally becomes a calm and quiet dog. He needs at least a half hour of daily exercise.
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks can adapt to a number of living situations, including apartments, if they’re properly exercised. The ideal is a home with a large fenced yard.
- Ridgebacks generally don’t bark a lot. Many will bark to alert you to something unusual, and some will bark when they are bored, but for the most part, this isn’t a yappy breed.
- Rhodesian Ridgebacks aren’t serious diggers, but they’ll dig a large hole if they’re bored or to escape the heat.
- To get a healthy dog, never buy a puppy from a puppy mill, a pet store, or a breeder who doesn’t provide health clearances or guarantees. Look for a reputable breeder who tests her breeding dogs to make sure they’re free of genetic diseases that they might pass onto the puppies and who breeds for sound temperaments.
- The Ridgeback is the only dog who has a ridge of hair running down his spine in the opposite direction from the rest of his coat, though some purebred Ridgebacks do not have ridges.
- The Ridgeback was created to help big game hunters go after lions, which is why he’s sometimes called the African Lion Hound.
- Comparable Breeds: Bullmastiff, Great Dane