Breed Focus on the Rhodesian Ridgeback


rhodesian ridgeback


A proud member of the hound group, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is large and muscular but also known to be a great family protector.

Breed History

This dog is a native of South Africa and was first introduced into the country of Rhodesia in 1877 to service big game hunters. This breed is also known as the African lion hound because of its original breeding purpose to hunt lions.

Still used for hunting, some Rhodesian Ridgebacks have graduated to pointing and retrieving. They also love to compete in dog sports like agility and tracking.

After World War II, large numbers of Rhodesian Ridgebacks were imported to the United States and, in 1955, The American Kennel Club recognized the breed. Today it ranks 54th in popularity among the 155 breeds of the AKC.


Ridgebacks have short hair that is easy to care for and really do have a characteristic ridge down their spine. How is it formed? The hair forming the ridge grows in the opposite direction of the rest of their coat.

The ridge developed from the breeding between European hunting dogs and African dogs who are the ones to carry that ridge.

Their coats tend to be odor-free and, while they do shed moderately, the ones who live outdoors continually will shed more. Their coat color ranges from wheat to gold to red.


Ridgebacks tend to be very intelligent and this leads them to be more independent than other breeds. How does that impact you? Start training early and be consistent throughout his life because without it he won’t listen to you.

Because they are bred to chase prey, your Ridgeback may decide that the neighbor’s cat is a great target to chase. It’s an excellent idea to keep your yard fenced in to prevent your Ridgeback from going on the hunt.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks tend to be very active as puppies but they do quiet down as they get older. She will be an excellent watchdog because she’ll let you know when something isn’t right.

They are truly family dogs and adore their humans. They can be reserved and standoffish with strangers.

These dogs run anywhere from 70 pounds to 85 pounds.

Health Concerns

Because of their size, Ridgebacks are susceptible both elbow and hip dysplasia as inherited conditions.

If you’re going to buy a Rhodesian Ridgeback from a breeder, make sure to ask for health certifications for both the puppies and the parents. Any breeder who hesitates or gives you an excuse about sending the certificates to you at a later time is a breeder you do not want to deal with.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are also susceptible to a congenital skin defect called Dermoid sinus where a cyst can form along the spinal area. It can lead to the need for surgery because some cysts can reach into the muscle tissue and wrap around the spinal cord.

rhodesian ridgeback Breed


Training is very important as you raise your Rhodesian Ridgeback. Start socialization early and even get your puppy into a class. Because they can tend to be independent, this may lead to a stubborn streak which could be difficult to fix.

Never scold your puppy but, rather, reward obedience and good behavior with treats and affection.

Grooming Requirements

Grooming, for the most part, consists of using a rubber curry brush each week to remove loose hair and then wiping her down with a damp cloth.

They do require dental maintenance like most breeds as well as nail care. Brush your dog’s teeth a couple of times a week and trim his nails if they’re not getting worn down naturally.

Thinking About a Rhodesian Ridgeback?

Please consider adopting before purchasing and please avoid purchasing an animal from a pet store. There are many good pure bred Rhodesian Ridgebacks in need of good homes. Click here to search for you a Rhodesian Ridgeback in need of adoption near you: <Ridgeback Rescue>


Featured Image: Courtesy of Vulkano12 via Wikipedia CC By-SA 3.0



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WagBrag’s co-founder, Russ Boles, has a deep history in animal rescue and welfare. For the past 12 years, Russ has served in various roles with Atlanta-based animal advocacy organizations focused on rescue, training and education. In addition, Russ led a local rescue volunteer team into New Orleans immediately after Hurricane Katrina, assisting in efforts to rescue and care for stranded animals. This experience changed his life, and animal rescue and advocacy will always be a part of everything he does.