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Rhodesian Ridgeback

Posted on Mar 24, 2013 by in Breeds by category, Breeds by name, Hounds, P-R | 0 comments

What's my history?

As our name suggests, we originate from Zimbabwe, which was formerly Rhodesia. In fact the Boer hunting dog was a forerunner to the Rhodesian Ridgeback as you know us today. But you may be asking – “what does ridgeback mean?” Well in fact, we are one of only two known dogs (the other originates in Thailand) to have a noticeable ridge of hair growing the ‘wrong way’ down our spine. The Boer hunting dog was a result of breeding European settlers’ dogs with the native African dog of that time around the Cape Peninsula. It was this African dog that had the ridge from which ours has become inherent. Our main use at the time was hunting and guarding – we hold particular renown for being able to deter and even chase lions! For this reason we are affectionately known as the African Lion Dog. The first known depiction of our breed is in a wall painting housed in the Voortrekker Monument, south of Pretoria in South Africa. It was not until the 1920s that we were introduced into the UK, where we first shown in 1928 by a lady called Mrs Foljambe. We were introduced into the US for the first time in 1950 and admitted into the American Kennel club in 1955. We belong to the hound category.

What do I look like?

I’ve mentioned our ridge already. It is about 2inches in width along our back. Besides that, we are a muscular and powerful dog, but not overbearing. Our colour is typically a light brown which is described as light or red wheaten. Our coat is short but should be glossy. For show purposes, some white hair is permissible on the chest or toes but excessive black hairs, which can be a feature, should not be excessive. Our nose should be black or liver brown. The Rhodesian Ridgeback tail is fairly long and should curve backwards slightly.

What do I need from you?

Reward-based training and socialisation are important for all dogs, but it’s perhaps particularly important for us. We’re intelligent and of strong will. We want to learn and be good dogs, but if not taught, we’ll make our mind up on what that means. So time spent in our formative years giving us good direction, will serve us well. We love our owners, but can be considered aloof to strangers. This is where the socialisation comes in – once we understand about how we treat visitors and strangers, we should be fine. We are generally a very healthy and athletic dog but are one of the most common breeds to suffer from the problem of hypothyroidism. This condition is treatable but you will need to be aware of it. Symptoms are likely to be weight gain and hair loss.

What I will give in return

Our common look is probably best described as an inquisitive frown. Sometimes you might think we look disapproving. In fact, we’re just being alert and on guard. We can make an excellent guard dog, but most Rhodesian Ridgebacks will not be overly aggressive, which is one of our main strengths. We make an excellent companion and our owners will vouch for our wonderful nature and devotion. However our ideal owner will have a lot of time to nurture and be with us, particularly if that means getting out and about foraging in the countryside.

How big will I get?

Anything from 60cm-69cm (24in-27in) depending on our gender and lineage. A Rhodesian Ridgeback average weight would be around 80lbs (35kg).

How long should I be around for?

You can expect us to live for around 10-12 years.

How big is our litter?

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can have a lot of pups – perhaps 12 or more.

Famous owners?

We have several – French heart-throb Olivier Martinez, lothario Errol Flynn and Anthony Kiedis of Red Hot Chili Pepper fame. The wonderful Patrick Swayze was a Rhodesian Ridgeback owner.

Want us to live with you?

We’re currently recruiting breeders and adopters to go here. Could that be you?

Our own special community

Our Rhodesian Ridgeback social space ~ The African Lion Dog


Disclaimer: the views expressed on this page and any comments below are only a guide to typical traits and views on the breed. Individual circumstance and traits will always vary so we can be in no way responsible for any of the information provided.


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