Rhodesian Ridgeback

Rhodesian Ridgeback by Bonnie van den Born
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a large dog indigenous to South Africa that has a characteristic ridge of hair on his back which is grows forward. He is well balanced, muscular, athletic and handsome. The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s ancestors are traced back to half-wild hunting dogs belonging to the Hottentot tribes in the 16th century. Early European settlers to South Africa in the 16th and 17th centuries had with them several different breeds including Mastiffs, Salukis, Bloodhounds, Great Danes and Greyhounds. And, historians believe selective breeding with these breeds along with the Hottentot dog resulted in the development of the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

Rev. Charles Helm, Cornelius von Rooyen and Rhodesian breeders all played a role in today’s Rhodesian Ridgeback. In 1875, Helm traveled to Rhodesia (now known as Zimbabwe) and brought with him two of his hunting dogs. Cornelius von Rooyen, a big game hunter, borrowed them and was so impressed by their excellent ability to hunt lions (and not be killed), he started his own breeding program. Breeding continued in Rhodesia and in 1922, the first standard was written. While the Rhodesian Ridgeback was very popular in cornering lions for the hunter to kill, they were also used to protect families and property as well as in herding and hunting of other game. The Rhodesian Ridgeback can withstand the extreme changes of temperatures in Africa as well as go without water or food for an entire day.

The American Kennel Club officially recognized the Rhodesian Ridgeback into its Hound Group in 1955.

Height: The height for a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog is 25 to 27 inches (64 – 67 cm) and 24 to 26 inches (61 – 66 cm)for bitches. AKC Standard.

Weight: The weight of a Rhodesian Ridgeback dog is 85 pounds (37 kg) and for bitches 70 pounds (32 kg). These weights are considered desirable by the AKC.

Coat Type: The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a sleek, glossy coat which is short and dense. The coat is easy to maintain and only needs a brushing and a bath when necessary. The Rhodesian Ridgeback’s coat has very little odor and sheds minimally.

Color: The color of the Rhodesian Ridgeback’s coat can be light wheaten to red wheaten. AKC Standard allows a bit of white on the chest and toes.

Temperament: The Rhodesian Ridgeback is intelligent, loyal, independent and calm natured. He is good with children, however, they should be supervised. This is a large breed which may unintentionally knock over a child. Not even Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies should be left alone with children since they have razor sharp teeth which could cause unintentional injury. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is very protective of his family, wary of strangers and is considered an excellent, natural watch dog. He learns quickly and does well with training which is done in a consistent, firm and very positive manner (never harsh). However, he can be stubborn when it comes to obedience and training. The Rhodesian Ridgeback needs daily exercise both for his physical and mental well being. This is a natural hunting breed and will take off on a scent, therefore it’s important to keep him in a very secured area or on a lease.

Health Concerns: The Rhodesian Ridgeback is prone to hip dysplasia, dermoid sinus and thyroid problems. This breed has a hearty appetite and owners must limit food portions to help prevent obesity. The average life span of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is 10 – 12 years.

Special Interest:
• The Rhodesian Ridgeback is also referred to as the African Lion Hound.
• The Rhodesian Ridgeback is the American Kennel Club’s 112th breed.
• There is only one other dog (located on the island of Phu Quoc in the Gulf of Siam) that has a ‘ridge’ like the Rhodesian Ridgeback.

AKC: Hound Group
ANKC: Hounds – Group 4
CKC: Hounds – Group 2
FCI: Group 6 Scenthounds & Related Breeds Section 3
KC: Hound
NZKC: Hounds
UKC: Sighthounds & Pariahs

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