Originally bred to track and bay at (but never kill) lions, today Rhodesian Ridgebacks are now family dogs beloved for their sociable and affectionate nature.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are versatile, athletic hounds with an innate desire to be close to their human companions. This means they need to live in the house with their people.
Although this breed can be strong-willed and independent, Rhodesian Ridgebacks are devoted to their families, tolerant of children and wonderfully affectionate with those they trust.
They are strong, athletic, adaptable dogs who need exercise such as long walks, running or play sessions. Because of their strong prey drive, Rhodesian Ridgebacks should always be in a fully-fenced area when off leash.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is distinguished by a ridge that runs down his back where the hair grows opposite the coat. This shorthaired dog has a dignified, expressive face.
These large, powerful dogs are classified by the American Kennel Club (AKC) as members of the Hound group. Mature Ridgebacks are naturally athletic and possess great endurance.
There is only one color for the Rhodesian Ridgeback breed, which is wheaten. However, this color comprises every shade that can be seen in a wheat field, from pale flaxen to burnished red. The nose of a Ridgeback will be either black or, less commonly, brown.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a seasonally shedding breed, but his short coat is easy to maintain. Weekly brushing and an occasional bath will keep his coat clean and glossy.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks are generally healthy dogs. Responsible breeders check for hip and elbow dysplasia, thyroid function and eye anomalies.
Rhodesian Ridgebacks may benefit from the nutrition offered by an adult dog food or a food for active dogs. They are known counter surfers, so be sure to keep “people food” securely stored. For Ridgebacks who need help with weight management, consider a healthy weight formula.
Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies should eat puppy food for their first year of life to aid in their growth and development.
The Rhodesian Ridgeback hails from South Africa, where crossing the native ridged Khoikhoi dog with native breeds brought by Dutch Colonists, such as Greyhounds, produced a ridged dog with superior abilities at tracking and confronting lions, and fending off other dangerous predators. Just like today, the breed was known then for its loyalty, tolerance and fondness for children.
As big-game hunting in South Africa began to wane, the Rhodesian Ridgeback also started to decline. In 1922, enthusiasts created the first Ridgeback standard. The Dalmatian standard was used as a template to arrive at the breed standard recognized today.