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Rhodesian Ridgeback Dog Breed Information

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a charismatic African native with an elongated “mark” on the back. Fans of the breed attribute to their wards the weight of advantages, including high intelligence, fantastic stress resistance, the ability to correctly assess the situation and act according to the circumstances, without looking back at the owner. However, even taking into account the listed quality, the portrait of the breed will be incomplete, if you do not present the amazing energy of its representatives. It is an active lifestyle in combination with an innate desire for independence that turns Rhodesian Ridgebacks into quite discerning pets that require increased attention and dedication from the owner.

Brief Information


  • Breed name: Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Country of origin: Southern Rhodesia
  • Weight: males ≈ 36.5 kg, females ≈ 32 kg
  • Height (height at the withers): males 63-69 cm, females 61-66 cm

Key Facts

  • It is the only South African breed to be officially recognized by the FCI.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks excel in most canine professions, organically looking like watchmen, hunters, and companions.
  • A strong pursuit instinct makes the breed dangerous to other pets, including cats. If the Rhodesian Ridgeback is emphatically indifferent to the coffee walking in the distance, then in 99 cases out of 100 this purr grew with him.
  • The name of the breed is formed from two words: Rhodesia is the territory of today’s Zimbabwe, where the first standard of appearance for dogs was approved, and the ridge is translated from English as “ridge”, “ridge”.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks are hardy and fast animals, which are shown in such sports disciplines as agility, coursing, skiing, and bickering.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not very talkative and only give voice when they want to draw the attention of others to a certain phenomenon or event.
  • The breed has good learning abilities, but during training its representatives often demonstrate stubbornness, testing the authority of the trainer for strength.
  • The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an intelligent dog, prone to leadership and living by the laws of the pack, so it will be difficult for an inexperienced owner to find an approach to it.
  • Rhodesian Ridgeback bitches are more domineering and easily subjugate the males with whom they share the living space.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks have a reputation for being fearless and courageous and defenders, while among them there are truly shy individuals who are put to flight by any shout.
  • Despite the fact that the breed has always been considered a hunting breed, its representatives easily abandon their historical mission, willingly exchanging it for sports training and active games on the street.


Jackal-like dogs with an oblong comb of wool on a ridge have been bred in Africa since time immemorial. The animals were especially popular with the Hottentots, who, due to their semi-nomadic lifestyle, needed four-legged protectors. In addition, these small people were engaged in cattle breeding, and since keeping the livestock in the savannah was always a difficult task, black shepherds attracted dogs to the business.

Everything changed in the middle of the 19th century when a new fashionable hobby appeared among the European nobility – hunting African lions with dogs. The breeds of the Old World were not suitable for such a dangerous event, so the hunters turned their attention to the native dogs, who already had experience working with giant cats. A pioneer in this business was a certain Cornelis Van Royen, who bought Hottentot dogs from a hunter from Southern Rhodesia (formerly South Zambezi) and began to breed the ideal lion beater.

The breed was developed by the good old method of crossing, and here Van Royen had a wide scope for imagination. Thus, the clan of aboriginal dogs was replenished with the genes of mastiffs, terriers, bloodhounds, dogs, retrievers, and pointers. The experiment, oddly enough, bore fruit, and soon queues of people wishing to acquire a puppy began to line up at the farm of an amateur breeder. By the way, initially, the animals were not called Ridgebacks, but Van Royen’s dogs and this praise of the breeder’s personality continued until the beginning of the 20th century. Only in 1922, Francis Richard Barnes initiated the creation of a separate standard for the breed, according to which all dogs with a comb on the back were renamed Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Interesting fact: despite the fact that the Rhodesian Ridgebacks have always been regarded as unsurpassed lion hunters, they never entered into a direct fight with the beast. The dog’s task was to chase and detain the predator before the arrival of a person, but not in attacking him. Subsequently, unscrupulous breeders began to deliberately conceal this fact, endowing Ridgebacks with fantastic strength, allowing them to measure their strength with the king of animals.

Rhodesian Ridgeback Breed Standard

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a hunter and a stern guard rolled into one. Strong, muscular, but at the same time not devoid of elegance, he does not differ in particular massiveness or exquisite “dryness” of the silhouette. Figuratively speaking, this dog is more of an athlete than a wrestler, which is unambiguously hinted at by a toned body and dry, bony legs. To date, the breed exists in two types – a coarser one, tending to the appearance of a molossus, and a lighter, so-called greyhound version. At the same time, the frank large-format, as well as the excessive grace of the constitution of the animal, are not welcomed by breeding experts.

  • Head

The dog’s triangular, flat skull continues with a long, powerful muzzle with a moderate stop.

  • Jaws and Teeth

Representatives of this breed are distinguished by strong, massive teeth and strong jaws. The only acceptable type of bite for a Rhodesian Ridgeback is a scissor bite.

  • Nose

Individuals with a dark color of the iris have a black lobe. A brown tone is also acceptable if found in dogs with golden amber eyes.

  • Eyes

The representatives of the breed have round, shining, relatively distant eyes. The color of the iris is in harmony with the shade of the coat, that is, the lighter the dog, the darker the eye color.

  • Ears

The ears of the Ridgeback are not small, but not too large, set high, drooping down along the cheekbones. The base of the ear canal is massive. The tip is thin, rounded.

  • Neck

The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a muscular, dense, medium-length neck. There is no suspension.

  • Housing

The body of the dog is harmoniously developed, slightly stretched, with a powerful back and deep, spacious chest.

  • Limbs

The front legs of the Rhodesian Ridgeback are bony, perfectly straight, with elbows tightly pressed to the sides. When viewed in profile, the legs appear noticeably wider than when viewed from the front. The shoulder blades are well-muscled and well sloped. The pasterns are strong and also tilted. The hind legs of the dog are strong, dry-muscled, with well-angled articulations and firm hocks. The feet of a Rhodesian Ridgeback is relatively small, with catlike curved toes and tufts of hair between them.

  • Tail

The purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback has a medium-length tail with a thick, strong base and a slight bend.

Coat and Color

The dog’s coat is short, dense, and shiny.

The trademark of the breed is the ridge: a comb of hard wool no more than 5 cm wide, located along the line of the dog’s spine. The correct ridge is formed by the hair growing in the opposite direction to the rest of the coat. The ridge should be clearly visible and have a contour tapering towards the croup. It usually starts from the withers and ends in the lumbar region of the animal, reaching the pelvic bones. In addition, a classic ridge has no more than two symmetrically placed rims/curls (called crowns).

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are characterized by colors ranging from light wheaten to bright red. At the same time, it is quite natural if the ears and muzzle of the dog are painted black. Small blotches of white on the legs and chest of the animal are not considered a defect, but the presence of large white spots on the coat is unacceptable.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a dog with nerves of steel and a lot of dignity. This muscular handsome man is not at all intrusive, although communication with a person for him is the highest available pleasure. In addition, he is always ready for the work that you come up with for him. In particular, hyper responsible guards are obtained from Ridgebacks: dogs are very sensitive to the violation of territorial boundaries and encroachment on the wealth surrounding them.

Nevertheless, it is not entirely correct to consider the Rhodesian Ridgeback a fighter who sleeps and sees someone to ruffle his skin. On the contrary, a true representative of this glorious family has a strong nervous system, which is not so easy to shatter. He is not quick-tempered and knows how to curb his own feelings. A striking example of this is the attitude towards strangers. In the depths of their souls, dogs, of course, are not delighted with them, but when faced with strangers, Ridgebacks show cold indifference.

In everyday life, the Rhodesian Ridgeback gives the impression of an absolutely phlegmatic creature, misleading those who are little familiar with the breed. This mode of energy-saving, dogs have been “turned on” from time immemorial, thus accumulating strength for the upcoming hunt. Modern individuals are also in no hurry to abandon ancient traditions, in the absence of work, passing into a static contemplative state and leaving it at the first request of the owner.

The Rhodesian Ridgeback does not conflict with the guys. He is not annoyed by childish tricks, and he does not fall into hysterics from harsh screams and other “noise effects” that usually accompany games. If necessary, the dog will always support the company and please your heirs with some simple trick. It is important to observe the measure and not hang one-year-old crumbs on the pet. The ridgeback will most likely find an approach to them, but the forces may not be calculated – there is a very significant difference in dimensions.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can be attributed to those breeds that see rivals and prey everywhere, so the dog is not a friend to the rest of the pets, as well as street animals. As an example: if the neighbors on the landing have acquired a charming fluffy, which is periodically released to “ventilate” into the yard, you will have more worries. Otherwise, get ready to explain to the owners of the cat the “ritual sacrifice” that the dog can arrange when faced with the animal on the street. Rhodesian Ridgebacks also conflict with each other, so keeping two males in the same territory makes sense only if you are entertained by the constant showdown between the pets, grumbling, and rivalry for a more delicious piece.

Education and Training

Briefly about the training of Rhodesian Ridgebacks: difficult, but possible if training is preceded by a preparatory stage, after which the animal will be more attentive to the requirements of the owner. For example, it is very important to awakening your pet’s interest in toys, as Rhodesian Ridgebacks love to play with each other, not with inanimate objects. In addition, toys are good to help in cases where the puppy needs to be distracted, for example, from biting the owner’s hands. However, you should not overdo it with entertainment either: the game should not be protracted and tire the animal. Decide on the boundaries of what is permitted. If you expect to rest on the couch hugging your pet, just sit a tiny ridgeback on it a couple of times. Those who are not yet ready to share the bed, let it be with a pet, but still, an animal, will have to guard soft horizontal surfaces like the apple of their eye. Once the baby is lying on the sofa, he will always practice it, especially in your absence.

Establishing tactile and emotional contact between a person and a puppy also refers to the preparatory stage of training. Teach your baby not to be afraid of your touch, often sit him down next to him, raise him, passing his hand under his stomach. Team “Come to me!” for 3-month-old babies it is not used, but the pet must come up to the owner’s call. If this does not happen, you will have to be cunning, luring the dog with a treat and loudly pronouncing its nickname. Gently lead the Rhodesian Ridgeback to the familiarity with the leash. At 3-4 months, the puppy should adequately perceive this accessory and not go crazy when a collar appears on it.

When training, consider the characteristics of the breed. The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a somewhat scattered attention, so prolonged concentration on one subject is torture for him. Reduce the duration of the lessons as much as possible (the best option is no more than 5 minutes) and increase the breaks (from 10 minutes or more). Do not forget to monitor the pet’s mood: if the dog shows obvious boredom at the very beginning of training, the classes will have to be temporarily stopped.

The attention of the Rhodesian Ridgeback can and should be trained, which will then greatly facilitate the work with him. The classic technique for fixing this property of the psyche looks like this: the owner treats the dog with a treat, after which he squeezes the rest of the treats in his fist, raising his hand high up. An interested puppy will immediately try to get hold of the object of gastronomic lust, jumping up and hypnotizing the human hand with a glance. When attempts to get a delicacy to prove unsuccessful, the Rhodesian Ridgeback will use the last resort – he will look pitifully at the owner. It is necessary to keep the puppy’s gaze as long as possible, after which the “sufferer” should be well treated.

Cynologists recommend starting the training of basic commands with the Rhodesian Ridgeback from 4-5 months. By this age, the puppies have become relatively stronger and more independent. How appropriate it is to learn all the commands from the General Training Course, everyone decides for himself, but the call “Come to me!” and the ban “Fu!” The Rhodesian Ridgeback must be learned. Otherwise, the dog’s life will be very short.

As for the methods of education and training, then representatives of this breed are more suitable for positive reinforcement, and this does not have to be a delicacy. Among Rhodesian Ridgebacks, there are real gamers, for whom the best incentive is the opportunity to chew on their favorite toy. Other dogs are satisfied with the master’s praise and patting on the head. Negative reinforcement in the life of a Rhodesian Ridgeback also takes place, but it should be used in exceptional cases when the animal demonstrates a clear disregard for the rules or tries to measure strength with a person. No, it is strictly forbidden to beat a pet, but patting it by the ear, pulling the collar, or throwing it on its back, pressing it to the floor is perfectly acceptable. It is highly desirable to accompany the “execution” with a verbal prohibition, for example, the command “No!” And, please, no slapping with a wet towel, quilting with a twig, or another offensive physical impact. Such humiliation is a Rhodesian Ridgeback will remain in memory for a long time and will significantly undermine your authority in his eyes.

Important: do not make excessive demands on the animal. Rhodesian Ridgebacks have never been service dogs and will never be. They are smart, trainable, but these obstinate people cannot be perfect following commands. So be prepared for the fact that even a mature animal will periodically experience “system failures” when the pet ignores your order.

Care and Maintenance

The Rhodesian Ridgeback doesn’t care whether you settle him in a city apartment or rent a country house for this purpose. Provided a good walk and a sufficient amount of sports loads, it will easily fit into even a small living space. Where the Ridgeback definitely does not belong is in the kennel and aviary. Whatever one may say, but the breed is not adapted to the Russian climatic realities, and the dogs themselves perceive the move to the booth as an exile. Rhodesian Ridgebacks are intelligent, proud, and in need of human society.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback has a thin, dry, almost odorless coat with a pronounced seasonality of molting. Daily brushing of the breed, in fact, is useless, but walking over the animal with a comb a couple of times a week, there is a chance to keep the house in relative order. By the way, buying a vacuum cleaner with a high suction power also makes sense, since, alas, it is unrealistic to keep track of every hair that falls out of the dog.

It is not customary to cut and trim Rhodesian Ridgebacks, this is one of the tiniest breeds, which practically does not need grooming. The dogs themselves are sensitive to their own hygiene, so they do not like walking in bad weather. Walking through puddles and muddy park paths for this breed is a dubious pleasure that they will willingly sacrifice for the sake of cleanliness and comfort.

Don’t turn into a perfectionist by dragging your pet to the bathroom every week. The ancestors of the Ridgebacks calmly managed without “bath days” and looked no worse than modern individuals. So wash your dog a couple of times a year with neutral pet shampoo, the rest of the time being content with dry cleaning with talcum powder or wiping the animal with a damp cloth (does not apply to representatives of the show class). If you bought a puppy in spring or summer, try to get him interested in swimming in open water, provided the water is warm enough. Just do it unobtrusively: if the baby’s fear of hydration has transformed into a phobia, it is pointless to try to defeat it.

In general, caring for the Rhodesian Ridgeback does not require extra effort. Cutting the nails once a month, rubbing the eyes if dust gets in them, removing plaque from the enamel, and cleaning the ears – all this is a matter of several minutes if the dog is accustomed to such procedures. Well, the notorious “airing” of the ears, which ridgebacks badly need, can be done in passing. Simply lift your pet’s earflap and wave it lightly to allow air to flow into the ear funnel.


The Rhodesian Ridgeback is not a dog for a “pleasant background”. The breed needs an active, energetic owner who will not be too lazy to spend two hours in the morning and in the evening in the nearest park or at the training ground. Prepare puppies for going out in advance. For example, in order to wean a baby to shy away from sharp unfamiliar sounds, it is worth rustling newspapers or packages more often in his presence, blowing a whistle, and loudly slamming the door. At first, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy can be carried in a backpack (if the animal is less than 3 months old). Then, when the baby receives comprehensive vaccinations and has served the allotted time in quarantine, he can be walked on a leash.

Do not get ahead of the action and do not try to educate a daredevil in a Rhodesian Ridgeback during your first outings. The puppy takes time to get used to the new environment, so do not drag him to walk near the freeway or near shopping centers. Start acquainting the animal with a new reality for him in quiet squares, in his own yard, or on country lawns, gradually moving to noisier locations. At 4-5 months, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is relatively stress-resistant, so it is quite possible to walk to the supermarket, go down to the underground passage or take a bus ride with it.

No matter how well-bred a Rhodesian Ridgeback is, instincts rule over him. Seeing a stray cat or a chicken walking along the road, the dog forgets everything and rushes after the prey. It is good if at that moment the animal was walking on a leash. In this case, the forbidding command and a sharp pull on the strap will cool his ardor. If not, problems are assured. Accordingly, if you are already releasing a Ridgeback to run, give him the opportunity to do it in safe places, for example, on a fenced backyard or on a lawn outside the city.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks are not the pickiest gourmets, but they will never refuse a supplement. It is not recommended to indulge the pet’s brutal appetite, because members of this family are practical champions in extreme weight gain. Accordingly, if you need a dog and not a pig in its guise, stop worrying about the undernourishment of your four-legged friend.

The daily meat requirement for a Rhodesian Ridgeback is 300-500 grams, that is, about 80-100 g per 10 kg of body weight. The optimal protein varieties are beef (not veal) and lean lamb. From 7 months, meat can be replaced with beef tripe, however, due to its low energy value, the portion should be twice as large. A good alternative to tripe is lamb flank, which is served both boiled and raw. Experiment with turkey or chicken breast once a week. Tubular bones are prohibited for Rhodesian Ridgebacks, but they can be easily replaced with calf legs – puppies chew them no less willingly.


  • Saltwater fish (cod, hake).
  • Low-fat cottage cheese, kefir.
  • Cereals: rice, buckwheat.
  • Chicken and quail eggs (once a week if no allergies are detected).
  • Green apples (red ones provoke allergies).
  • Cabbage: broccoli, cauliflower, Chinese.
  • Zucchini.
  • Carrots (grated and flavored with vegetable oil).
  • Herbs: parsley, celery, dill.
  • Vegetable oil: sunflower, olive, corn.

Rye or bran croutons, cheese, dried fruits are also suitable as stimulating delicacies for Rhodesian Ridgebacks.


  • Starchy vegetables and fruits, including potatoes and bananas.
  • Any meat and bone broth both in pure form and as an additive to porridge.
  • Pasta.
  • Smoked and salted products.
  • Sweets.
  • Canned food.
  • River fish.
  • Garlic and onions.
  • Spicy and spicy dishes from the master’s table.


Rhodesian Ridgebacks have strong immunity, high body resistance, but this does not free them from genetic ailments, the most unpleasant of which is the dermoid sinus. Surprisingly, but this defect of intrauterine development, as a result of which the skin does not heal in the region of the spine and grows deep into the tissues, is closely associated with the formation of the ridge. In addition, animals are susceptible to other hereditary diseases, in particular:

  • dysplasia of the hip joint;
  • hypothyroidism;
  • intestinal volvulus;
  • osteochondrosis;
  • ear infections;
  • obesity;
  • allergies;
  • deafness;
  • cataract;
  • entropion.

How to Choose a Puppy

  • Give preference to a breeder practicing suburban Ridgeback breeding. At the same time, pay attention to the presence of aviaries on the territory of the nursery. Animals who value their reputation as a seller should not have animals in them.
  • Rhodesian Ridgebacks are very fertile and sometimes produce 10 or more puppies. Some breeders get rid of excess offspring, others keep the entire litter, but if you take a baby from a bitch feeding more than 6 crumbs, get ready to get a small, weak, creature in need of increased attention.
  • Ask the kennel worker to show all puppies. If the babies are almost the same size and constitution, this indicates the high quality of the offspring.
  • Check with the seller when the Rhodesian Ridgeback bitch had the penultimate letter. If less than a year has passed between births, the dog is unlikely to have time to physically recover, which means that its offspring will be frail. In prestigious European nurseries, breeding bitches are allowed to give birth no more than 2-3 times in their entire life.
  • Ask the breeder to provide as much information as possible about the puppy’s parents: their age, champion titles, pedigree, number of births.
  • The presence of a ridge in a puppy is a must. Do not believe the seller’s oath that the comb will grow in a couple of months. Will not grow! Not in a month, not in a year, not in ten years.

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